2012.08.29 Shared vision and commitment needed for success

Written by David Green.

By Heather Walker

Hillary Rodham Clinton made famous the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Small town residents know this as well as anyone, and Morenci has prided itself on this notion for decades. It’s one of the last remaining advantages of a small school district and, I believe, an important one. With dropping enrollment, shrinking budgets, and diminishing options, Morenci still has one major advantage over larger schools—we are family. Morenci teachers know virtually every child in the building—whether they have them in class or not. They generally know the students’ siblings, parents and even grandparents. Parent-teacher conferences often feel more like class or family reunions than formal academic discussions. It’s what makes us great, and it’s why my child attends Morenci Area Schools.

I am in the unique position of being a parent, a resident, an alumna, and a teacher. My stake in this district is high, as is my loyalty. I know what Morenci can do. I know what kind of success stories it can turn out. But it takes a village. It takes administrators, board members, teachers, coaches, parents and students, working together to make this district thrive. There is no magic formula or one single answer. It’s all of us doing our part, doing our best, and, most importantly, not giving up. 

Things have changed. There is no denying the devastating effects of the economic crisis on communities and schools across the state. We are no exception. We’ve suffered more than our fair share of losses, but we are not lost. Many of us still believe that this small town is a good place to raise a family. Many of us still believe this school district, our school district, can nurture and educate our children better than any district in the state. We believe this because it is true, and it is true because it is ours. We take care of our own. 

So much of success depends upon attitude. We have been successful in the past when we were united behind the common goal of being The Best. It was just last year, in 2011, that Morenci was recognized by the state as one of 100 “Beating the Odds” schools for academic performance. We didn’t receive that honor by accepting mediocrity at any level. We got it by working hard every day and believing in our school—all of us, from teachers and bus drivers to parents and students.

If we’re not willing to be our own champions, to be our greatest allies, who is? We must be resourceful. We must recognize our potential. We must stick together. The time is now. Stay put. Dig in. Get involved. Volunteer in a classroom. Support the Boosters or PTO. Serve at the concession stand window. Sell tickets at a basketball game. Too busy for the extras? Take a sincere interest in your child’s education. Encourage achievement. Reward excellence. Value education and expect success—even when success is not easy to come by. 

A small school district does not mean a lesser school district. A diploma from Morenci can earn a graduate an acceptance letter to the University of Michigan, a recruiter’s call from the United States Marines, or a job offer with benefits in a skilled trade. These opportunities are available every year, including last year, to our kids. With growing opportunities for specialized programs, dual enrollment and shared resources, there’s no reason to believe Morenci cannot continue to rise to meet the challenges of tomorrow. But it can’t without your help. 

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If one man can free a country, certainly this village can raise its children. 

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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