School Thanks 2016.10.05


Sunday night after I woke up from a nearly three-hour nap following the Grand Opening of the Smithsonian exhibit at the library, I was overcome with a feeling of gratitude for all the people who helped make it a success. I’m a slow writer, but not as agonizingly slow, painful-to-watch writer as my daughter Maddie was in high school.

It killed me to watch her at the computer. She’d crank out one sentence and then many minutes would pass while she stared at the screen waiting for another burst of inspiration to hit before she’d crank out another one. Each sentence would be fully formed, beautifully written, with very little need for editing, but boy they took a long time to reach the page.

So, I’m not that slow, but I’m slow enough that I only wrote one letter Sunday night (which appears below)—to superintendent of schools Mike McAran who had family commitments and wasn’t able to attend. In my heart this is a letter of gratitude for the schools, but, looking over it now, I realize it never actually says the words, “thank you,” and fails to mention others who contributed, such as Heather Walker who rounded up the Bulldog mascot (check it out in the children’s section) and referee shirt (my standard uniform for all things sports-related since borrowing it last school year to wear when visiting classrooms to promote the Summer Reading Program) and Kim Irish who shimmied her way into a packed storeroom to access Bulldog fan items (which we put inside a Smithsonian display case) and swag to give to the students who participated in the Opening event. 

And it doesn’t specifically shout out to Volunteer Club members Anna Gautz and Abby Travis who stayed hours and hours longer than required to help set up the local exhibit or Cheyenne Stone who was here, there, and everywhere helping with last-minute details during the Opening, but they were also a big part of this effort. There’s so much good in our Morenci schools, and I thank you all for it.

Dear Mr. McAran,

Today's Smithsonian Institution Hometown Teams Grand Opening event at the library was such a success! And it was directly because of the selfless commitment of your staff members and the students themselves. 

Mr. Rodenbeck arranged for the band to play, Jake Bovee made sure the majority of his team attended, Robyn Taylor allowed the cheerleaders to attend, Ms. Hojnacki supplied Volunteer Club members, Mr. Grime had his Art Club create a very cool spirit banner and Mrs. Ries created an art show of works by last year's art students. Jim Bauer, Jed Hall, Joe Farquhar, Nick Wilson, Hayze Wolf, and Phil McCaskey participated in the Coaches and Players Chat. Morenci schools represent! Behind the scenes, Amy Schmidt helped us organize sending program info home to the students and Kay Johnson brought in very cool trophies and Bulldog articles of clothing to display. 

It makes me tear up looking back on today: more than 150 people attended (probably half school-connected) without any problem or incident. The students were so well behaved and engaged. They were such a shining example of how wonderful Morenci schools are! And what great ambassadors they are! They impressed people who came from outside the district such as the Michigan Humanities Council state scholar, Dr. Thomas Henthorn.

I'm sorry you weren't able to attend, but I wanted to let you know how incredibly proud you would have been to see your staff and students participate in this event. 

The Coaches and Players Chat took way longer than I anticipated, but the students (band members, football players, cheerleaders) were so gracious and respectful, listening to coaches and players talk about the impact of sports on their lives, the memories they've made while playing, the lessons learned. 

The band members played beautifully, and added so much to the atmosphere of the tailgate party and the “ribbon cutting” afterward. They also played the National Anthem inside the library before we started the program…that was a first for us and they did such a great job! The football players and cheerleaders really made the "ribbon cutting" so special: The players ran through the wonderful banner made by the Art Club and held by the cheerleaders, and into the annex to kick off the official opening of the exhibit. Several Volunteer Club members helped us set up before and attended to details during the event. The wonderful artwork on display showed further involvement from Morenci Schools in this Smithsonian program.

The Grand Opening event was just a perfect example of the strength of the Partnership Proclamation between the library and the schools. I hope we can continue this arrangement long into the future. 

The qualities students exemplified while participating in this event (including commitment to community, respect, patience, good will, good-naturedness, flexibility) won't get measured on a state test, but I give them, the teachers and the school district an A+.