Sometimes, living in a hometown your whole life can become routine and boring. Luckily, my imagination can turn any street, block, or event into a journey into another world. So join me on an adventure in my hometown.
Sundays are not days I generally like to spend inside. Not at all. But, as a member of this community and as a resident of the Ardmore City Schools District, attending the information meetings are my civic duty. Understanding what is being voted on is both a right and a responsibility. And this is how I have found myself at two meetings on this subject.
Around town there is alot of talk about Ardmore; the school, the issues, the kids, the....insert whatever is the topic someone has recently commented on about the school. Now, all schools get talked about, but the reality is that Ardmore and Plainview are the TWO highschools of Ardmore. And this is a tricky thing. For many years, Ardmore had a wider base of active supportive parents and families, and a very diversified economic population.
Folks, alot has changed in the last twenty years. The reality is, that Ardmore still has a very diverse student body, but due to many factors; the make up of the homes, economic backgrounds, migrant population; transfers due to frequent relocation related to custody cases; the support base that Ardmore had many years ago has changed a bit. Ardmore has evolved into a very urban school. There are strengths and weaknesses with this. My husband and I do not have children. If we did, we would be a serious house divided. Because a 100% I would WANT my child to attend Ardmore. And 100% he would prefer elsewhere.
I make this point because I still support Ardmore Schools. Ardmore has some really great kids and some hard working teachers and families of all types that I worry get seriously overlooked by all the other issues Ardmore is currently having to address and figure out how to best handle. All schools in all areas have issues. Not my place to address them here. But due to the talk I have heard on and off, some things need to be addressed if the community is going to get to the nitty gritty of understanding why a YES vote is necessary at this time for our school and even more, for our community.
Statistics and costs are being laid out in the paper, so I encourage you to read, ask questions, and understand them. I will generalize from what I learned at the meeting, because the result is clear. The bond will help repair leaks in the Ardmore Middle School and in Noble Stadium. This is necessary. And for those who ask why relatively new buildings are leaking; well the building I work in is less than three years old, it leaks. I am going to assume that it has something to do with construction and hind sight is 20/20. By the way, I do not work in or at any school related to Ardmore, this is a whole different business with a leaky roof.
The track needs to be recovered as well. Reality is, Ardmore athletics are a core of Ardmore. I have made a point to talk with Ardmore athletes, students, and band/orchestra students, asking about what they liked and didn't like about their school. They have voiced being extremely proud of both the sports they played and the athletes in other sports as well as their music based program. They described many of these kids as being serious about what they played. I say this because I think we forget we have some really hard working kids at this school. And the track is a source of revenue and positive attraction. Ardmore hosts events, this brings lots of people to the Ardmore area. These people spend money; in our hotels, at our resturaunts, in our downtowns, and in our other area businesses. Ardmore may lose hosting the State track meet if the track is not fixed this year. And there goes several days revenue for our town.
The bond will also help create two elementaries that can house our increased student body with the rooms, space, and technological supplies to keep our children competitive with area schools and the world. Ardmore athelets have ranked as academic scholars. Ardmore students have placed well on tests. Do some students have lower test scores? Yep. So here is where I will say my opinion of standarized testing; standarized tests have nothing to do with what someone is learning; it does not show the quality of a teacher; it does not show ability to succeed in the future; to be a good college student; to be able to hold a job; to be a good citizen; or of someone's potential. It measures, as Bill Gates who owns Microsoft has said "people who have brains like me, those are tests for us, not everyone else." (context of statement taken from interview on television, source not recalled; possibly 60 minutes.)
He is right. Some brains test well, some brains figure out how to test well, and a whole lot more brains are very smart but suck at tests and reguritation of information in pressured settings.
But having grade schools that provide well equiped rooms; where there is space for science projects and art expression, space for interactive learning boards since children's brains are totally being rewired with technology; with more bathrooms for everyone and good work space for teachers are critical to starting our children's interest in education and letting them know they are valued.
And this is where it effects our adventures in our hometown.
Children, whether we choose to believe it or not, are our future. And folks, we have a problem. We are moving into an island mentality as a society and this trickles down into the community. Right now, a big part of our future generation of citizens are in peril. They are looking around their school and comparing it to other schools and asking some questions. And at the bottom of those questions are these.
Why can't our school be nice? Be prepared? Be clean and updated? Why don't we deserve this?
Well, they do. Do I agree every kid should be in school-nope. I know several kids that, in the eighth grade should be moved on into a training program of some sort. School beyond that age is just prolonging a slow, torturous existence for both them and everyone in school they deal with. Some kids are violent and they really don't need to keep coming back either; they need to move themselves into whatever real life experience is going to be their wake up call so the rest of the kids can attend school without that disruption and angst. But this is at every school.
The children who are engaged in the education process, they deserve the right tools and environment to learn in. That environment should not be moldy and damp; difficult to cool and heat; limited in options because the cafeteria is too small or no excercise because it is raining and the gym is too crowded for everyone. Which is the last part of this bond; it provides for our children to have appropriate lunch facilities and gym area so that their physiological needs are met.
Our community is made up of the people who live in it. And the children we raise today are the adults we live and work with tomorrow.
I want a larger majority of people who are educated, capable, trained in something, willing to work, willing to be a part of creating a beautiful, creative, vibrant and evolving town; made up of interesting expressions in ALL parts of our town. Maybe one day the schools will have the money and a clear enough plate to build a performing arts center; but folks it isn't gonna happen with this bond, nor apparently with many of the previous bonds. Unfortunately, we, as a community, really have not understood and valued the full benefit of a heavily funded and supported Performing Arts center and program for our schools. This is fairly typical in the south where sports tend to dominate a community. I hope in the future this shifts and equalizes because the arts literally change people in ways as profound and magnificent as athletics does. Maybe even more so. Both children at Lincoln and Jefferson, the two elementaries being included in the bond, as well as the Will Rogers Head Start have enjoyed increased arts programs through such things as Artist In Residence programs. Having neighbors who attended Lincoln, I have heard mothers and children alike rave about the absolute top notch education and experiences their kids were having at school.
So how do we create that future community we want?
We take care of our vulnerable; which is always, without a doubt, our children. Because folks, we all become old people---do you really want angry, disaffected, resentful, ill prepared young adults as our emerging future? I don't.
So I am going to show I am willing to sacrifice a bit for YOUR children who are a part of MY future by voting YES to the bond.
So May 14th invest in your future, invest in a healthier hometown by voting YES.