Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An Open Letter to the Students of Ruskin High School

Last Wednesday night, by a 4-3 vote, the Hickman Mills C-1 School Board decided that it would be Hickman Mills High School that would close, and that Ruskin High School would be the school for 11th and 12th grades in the district. The meeting was emotional and contentious at times. After the meeting, there were several media reports voicing worry that the kids in the new combined school would not get along. I think they will get along OK, with no more then the normal school kerfuffles. Here are letters (one this post and one the next post down) that I would write to the respective student bodies.

To Ruskin High students who will be juniors and seniors next (2010-11) year:

There has been a difficult decision made by those in charge of your school. The "other" high school in the district, Hickman Mills High, is going to become the school for the JV set, and you and the juniors and seniors from Hickman Mills High will be going to school together at the Ruskin building this year. You will all be known as Ruskin High School at that time. Nobody wanted this to happen, but even "C" students in remedial math can add these numbers and find that the school district cannot support two high schools at this time.

There has been several stories in the media that indicate that people fear there will be trouble between you and the kids from Hickman Mills when you come together, trouble of a violent nature. I think that these stories are overblown. I think you kids will rise to the occasion, and surprise your elders with how smoothly this goes.

A few words of advice to make sure that indeed, this does indeed go smoothly.
  • Remember that disputes do not have to be resolved with physical means. Problems can be talked out with a mediator much of the time. Remember, most of it is small stuff, which, if not allowed to turn into big stuff, will be forgotten in a day's time.
  • Think of yourselves as hosts now and you have new guests. Show new people around. Tell them some of the traditions. Open your hearts and make new friends.
  • Get respect by giving respect. Treat each other kindly. Remember that there are times for fun, kidding around and snapping on each other, and there are other times to work together and honor each other with the whole heart.
  • Remind yourself that this is not easy on the Hickman Mills kids. They've been going to school in one place for 2 or 3 years, and now, they have to go someplace else. They have good memories of Hickman Mills. Many of them will remember with pride they went there. They may show up at school wearing orange, if it's OK with the administration. Be OK with this yourself. They are not trying to insult you or put you down (and even if they are, will it matter one hour from now?), they are remembering and memorializing.
Yes, surprise the naysayers. Show them that the heart of our community, our schools, is fully functional and ready to go. In the process, you will receive the kind of education that is priceless, the kind of education that will serve you where ever you might end up. And you get the other kind too--the reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic education--you'll need to thrive in today's world.

Blessings to you as you pursue your life's path.

The South Kansas City Observer

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