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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • 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.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.

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