2012.08.29 Shared vision and commitment needed for success

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.web
    NICE WORK—A spider remains at the center of a web, awaiting visitors, during a moist morning last month. The was built in front of Eagle Funeral Home in Morenci.
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.