Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An Open Letter to the Students of Hickman Mills High School

Dear Hickman Mills High students who will be juniors and seniors next (2010-11) school year:

As you know the people who run the school district have decided to close the Hickman Mills High School, and have all the high school juniors and seniors go to school over at Ruskin High School's building and be called Ruskin High School. The building you now know as school will be used as school for the those in 9th and 10th grades now.

Let's face it, this sucks. There is no putting a pretty face on it. This just sucks. But the numbers are undeniable. Between the downturn in the housing market, and the loss of retail tax revenue, and the decrease in enrollment at the secondary level (that's everyone from 9th grade up), it makes no money sense to keep open two fully equipped high schools. Just because we would like it to be so, does not make it possible for it to be so.

So you all will be going to a new school. The press has been having a field day saying that there will be problems when the the two schools combine--problems of a violent nature. I personally think these problems are overstated. I think they don't give our young people enough credit. Of course, like any grown up, I have a little advice, advice that if you pay even just a little attention to, will help avoid the kind of bad stuff the press is speculating about.
  • Treat your new surroundings, and the people you meet with respect. By giving respect, you will get respect back.
  • Be open to the overtures of friendship from the kids who have been at Ruskin all along. Remember this is not easy for them either.
  • If you do have a conflict, resolve it by means other than physical violence. Don't be afraid to have a third person come in to act as a mediator. Keep perspective, remember most stuff is small stuff, and if it can remain small stuff, it will be forgotten within a day or two.
One thing you still have are all the good memories of life at Hickman Mills High School. You will be the guardians of those memories. Don't use them as a weapon against others, instead treasure them. Surprise all the outsiders who think there will be trouble. Show them that you are far better then that, made of much sterner stuff.

I do hope you get to wear your orange uniform shirts and school gear as part of your uniform during these 1-2 years. Wear them proudly, but not so proudly that you get in a fight about it. If you can't avoid conflict, don't wear it! Learning how to fit in to new places, make new friends and avoid needless conflict is learning that will serve you well your entire life. This learning will also make the regular learning--the reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic--easier and better too.

Blessings to you as you continue the journey of learning and growing up

The South Kansas City Observer

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