Letters 3

Letters 3 Send a positive message May 8

To the editor:

We are writing this letter in support of the Wakonda school bond issue. We would like to address some of the changes that have occurred since the school was first built.

In 1922 when the school was first built we did not have programs or classes that included kindergarten, pre-school, Title programs, and high school and elementary special education. We have also added a guidance counselor, a school nurse and a speech teacher. We also want our children to be current with technology, so high school and elementary computer labs and a distance learning room have been added.

As parents of a student in special education we have watched the elementary (e.g. kindergarten and first grade) students and high school (e.g. juniors and seniors) students having class in the same room. Needless to say these are two different learning environments. This year's pre-school class is held on the stage in the old gym. This makes for an interesting situation with play rehearsals in the final week.

For the past few years we have watched the superintendent and school secretary share an office with no wall or door separating them. Within this office is the computer hub room with the technology coordinator. I couldn't imagine trying to meet on a private issue with two other people in the room. We have stopped in the school on different occasions to see the secretary standing outside the office with the door closed.

Our children have come home from school telling how one teacher walks around the halls with a box and their teaching supplies. The person has no room or desk to call their own. I couldn't imagine trying to do prep work for a class with everything in a box, digging through it to find what I need for the next class, moving from one room to the next. They also talk about the art teacher gathering all the art supplies, placing them in a book bag and heading from one elementary classroom to the next. Imagine all the time it takes to set up, take down, and clean up then move on to the next classroom.

Several of our high school teachers share the same room for teaching their classes. When they aren't teaching class and the next teacher needs the room key they have to go to the copier room to do the prep work for their next class dragging books or homework and tests that need to be graded.

Our younger children in grade school talk about the junior and senior high school students changing classes. They hear the commotion in the halls and locker doors closing all day long. It would be less disruptive to the elementary teachers and their classes if they were separated from the junior and senior high school.

Please vote in support of the school bond issue. Send our students a positive attitude and that we care about them.

Ruth and Douglas Hessman


Please vote in favor of bond issue

To the editor:

I attended the Wakonda Public School system from kindergarten through senior high, I am a 1985 graduate. Although I moved to Rhode Island in 1989, I have continued to keep in contact with family and friends back home.

I recently became aware of the controversy surrounding the bond issue being discussed to finance improvements to my alma mater. I felt I should write and express my opinion for what it is worth.

When the Meckling School closed in the early '70s, my family was faced with a choice of merging into the Gayville-Volin or Vermillion School Districts. Even though I was a young child I recall the debate in our house regarding my father not wanting either selection. I vaguely recollect the phone calls and personal visits to neighbors asking them to sign a petition and agreeing to "land lock" their farms into one another until they linked into the Wakonda District.

When I was in high school, and I saw the kinds of problems other schools had with discipline, teen pregnancy, drugs and truancy, I was relieved to be making the trek to "little" Wakonda every day. When I went away to college, and then moved half way across the U.S., I really started to understand why my parents petitioned to get into the Wakonda School District.

I have always been able to draw on my varied experiences developed here to leverage them into opportunities. I am currently one of 12 people out of 2,400 employees who sit on the President's Leadership Team. This is the governing body of the university. We meet to make decisions about the operations of the campus, in areas of enrollment management, academics, financial management, annual budgets, facilities management, and the direction the university needs to be headed in, in order to remain competitive and a viable entity in the world of post-secondary education.

In my current role as the director of career development for Johnson & Wales University, I interact with over 500 employers a year. When it comes to hiring candidates for work at their organization, many of them share similar points of view. In addition to the basics like communication skills, computer skills, technical expertise, and a strong work ethic, they are looking for someone who is not afraid of volunteering to work on projects, individuals who work well in a team environment. They want people who are diverse in their backgrounds, and have participated in a variety of activities in order to round out their experiences. This is similar to the profile many admissions officers look for at colleges and universities.

Throughout my years at Wakonda, I participated on the Yearbook Committee, senior editor of the student newspaper, class play, cheerleader, oral interpretation and track, just to name a few. Even being in one of the largest class sizes to go through Wakonda, I never felt like I was "just a number." You get a lot for your dollar at Wakonda Public School. The teachers are top-notch and caring individuals. The quality of my education is something I have always been proud of.

Wakonda was a place where anyone could participate in clubs, teams and student government. I work with many people who were not able to participate in any activities at their school, because unless you were the top 1 percent, you just didn't get picked. I don't think the value of a small town education is really appreciated until you don't have access to one.

Where I live now, people only send their kids to public schools when they have no other recourse. Parents in my community would give their right arm to have a public school system where their children's teachers recognize them as parents by sight, and take the time to call them to alert them of any issues or concerns.

Some people think consolidation is inevitable, and that it would lower their taxes if we consolidated. But that tends not to be the case. Just ask the people who were in the Meckling school district what happened to their taxes when the Meckling district was carved up and consolidated with Vermillion, Gayville, or Wakonda.

Schools keep consolidating and getting bigger and bigger. Between 1940 and 1990, the total number of elementary and secondary public schools declined almost by 69 percent, despite a 70 percent increase in the U.S. population. Just in the Wakonda district alone, there has been a 13 percent increase in population over the past 10 years.

When I was pursing my bachelor's degree in secondary education, I researched the relationship between school size and student performance. Larger schools equate into larger problems, along with lower attendance, achievement and graduation rates.

Many argue that in order to be cost effective and to offer a sufficiently large and varied curriculum, a secondary school needs to have a large student body to draw from, thus the push for consolidation. That is unfortunate, because research has repeatedly found small schools, where the graduating class is lower than 100 members, to be superior to large schools on most measures of achievement, attitude (towards school or particular school subjects), social/discipline problems, extracurricular participation, student-teacher/parent-teacher relations, attendance, graduation rates. This holds true for both elementary and secondary students of all ability levels.

My parents taught my siblings and me to value our education, as it was the only thing no one could ever take away from you. My dad, Cliff Miller, served on the Wakonda School Board for eight years. He worked hard to foster growth and improvement for the students who attended Wakonda Public School. I am sure there are many of you who would like to see Wakonda Schools continue to prosper and educate the leaders of tomorrow. Please vote in favor of the bond this year.


Celeste Miller Brantolino

Class of 1985

Cranston, RI

Vote yes for Wakonda's future

To the editor:

I have worked as a custodian for the Wakonda School District for 25 years. I can't imagine not being around your kids and my grandkids. I have six living in Wakonda.

I want to tell you that I think our kids are priceless, and so are their education needs. They should come first on this bond issue. Please don't put the tax dollar first, put our kids first.

You know, when money situations come up, we always manage. Somehow we always make it. We can make it again with this new bond issue. We'll make is work � we have to for our kids. Our kids deserve the best we can offer for their education. We have the best kids and the best staff. Now we need to upgrade their building � we need to complete the package. Please vote yes � put our kids first, not the dollar.

When my own kids were just 3, 5, and 6, I became a single parent. I thank God every day that I was living in Wakonda. I could have never done it in a larger town. I always needed to work more than one job at a time to support them, but I never had to worry about their safety with their sitters � your kids were very responsible.

My own family was on the receiving end of one of Wakonda's most caring benefits in 1979 when Kristi hit her head at school. We will never, ever forget all that was done for us and I have never quit thanking you in my heart. This is Wakonda, willing to help all, at any time. Doug and Pam's letter said it all.

The kids at school are wonderful. The little ones are entertainment, the middle age group have annoying growing pains, and the older ones are helpful, caring, nice to one another, great to little kids, and an outstanding example of what comes from WHS.

I cry a lot of "good-bye" tears on graduation day! These kids are what they are because of their family, their church, and their school. Please vote yes for our kids; they have more than earned it.

I could go on and on about "please vote yes for our kids" but I guess my bottom line is � I love all these kids and the friendships I have are just priceless; these kids make my day, and when the graduates come home for a visit, the "group hugs" in the hallway and the big smiles they get on their face when they see you, and all they have to tell you � Well, this all started right here at WHS.

The community and WHS. have so much to be proud of. Let's keep making memories.

Thank you,

Neva (Grandma) Morgen


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