Red Lake County Central is the official name for our kids' schools. I am not altogether clear on how these things work, but I believe that although the communities of Plummer and Oklee work together to provide education for area kids, they are each still independent, with their own school boards and separate school district numbers. The way things work at this time is that each town provides pre-school/headstart for its own kids. The elementary students, K-6, use the facility in Plummer, and the junior high and high school kids go to school in Oklee. Extra curricular activities are shared; sports practices and athletic events are scheduled equally between the two facilities. Those activites requiring larger numbers of participants than our communities produce, are also combined with the Red Lake Falls schools.
Mostly I am glad our kids are in public school. It is a huge burden off me to not have the homeschool responsibilities always hanging like a cloud over our lives. But we've traded it for the task of keeping track of numerous schedules, running around to various events, and having very, very short evenings to spend with our kids.
For instance, this coming Friday, Clara is going with her class to the Shrine Circus in Grand Forks and will not return until sometime in the evening. Louisa's three act play opens that night. Elsie has track practice in Red Lake Falls, so will not be back in Oklee until 6:30 or so. Matt has a track meet, and so will return to Oklee sometime after 7:00, perhaps closer to 8:00.
Last Thursday night, the younger kids got off the bus at about 5:00. Some had homework to do and all needed supper. Joe had church in Grygla at 7:00. Louisa, Elsie and Matt participated in the spring choir and band concert in Oklee at 7:00. I was left to decide whether or not to attend the concert and how to manage it if I did. I knew there would be no baby sitters available for the younger kids, because any local teens would also be at the concert. These concerts go long, so I certainly did not want to bring six little ones along with only one set of parental arms to manage them. But yet, if I left Clara in charge of the others at home, five little ones is an awful lot for an eleven year old to manage on her own, especially when it involves bedtime.
I realize that there are many families whose kids are involved in many more things than are our kids. We've made a conscious decision to try to maintain some sense of family living and family time. I should not complain. I just bring up those two recent examples to demonstrate the new situations we as parents must learn how to manage. It's much different than having supper, getting everyone ready for bed and reading together for a half hour before our family devotion time.
There is no perfect solution in this temporal world, but we can make the best of whatever paths we choose to walk. Joe and I are still learning how to manage the various new things we have before us in this year of transition to public school.
Joe and I went to college in Madison, WI. Although not a huge metro area, the University there attracts students from every area of the United States and from around the world. We were exposed to a multitude of world views. Among those we counted as friends were kids who grew up in as many kinds of families and with as many various life styles as I could number. We also try to keep up with current events and changing societal trends.
With all this in mind, we put our kids in the local public schools. We really didn't know what to expect. We didn't know, for instance, whether the school handed out condoms and to what extent and from what perspective the teachers taught sex ed. We didn't know how prevalent was the use of drugs and alcohol among the students, and what kinds of pressure our kids would feel to participate in such activities. We didn't know whether the kids would get poor grades if they stated scepticism about evolutionary theories or the success of socialism around the world.
And I'm happy to say that in most of those things, we've been pleasantly surprised. In some ways, becoming accustomed to small town and rural living was a challenge for me. But that story would be a different blog post. But I am convinced that the blessings in such society far outweigh any drawbacks. This is surely reflected in the more traditional values reflected in how our local schools are run.
Last night I had the privilege to accompany Matt to the Academic Banquet, which was held at the Plummer site this year. The academic banquet is held each spring to honor those students in grades 9-12 who maintained a GPA of 3.5 or above for the previous three quarters. Awards are also given to the seniors in each of the core curriculum areas. The parents and honored students are treated to a nice dinner served by those students in grades 7-8 who maintained a GPA of 3.5 or above for the first three quarters of the school year. A speaker is invited to address the gathering, usually someone who has graduated from the community and done well in his or her life. Everyone dresses up and it's a festive occasion.
The speaker at this year's banquet was Dr. Bryan Delage from Ortonville, MN. He graduated from highschool in Plummer in 1981, and has served our country in both the National Guard and the Air National Guard; and provides medical care for the people in the Ortonville area.
Dr. Delage spoke on what he considered the most necessary things for a successful life. He first assured the audience that the views he was going to described were not those of the school and that if anyone had any concerns they could come to him afterwards. He started his list of things necessary to success with developing one's faith. He advised that without a firm foundation, people have nowhere to turn when the troubles of life come their way.
Suffice it to say, that's about the last thing I expected to hear when I walked through the school door last evening. And it was well received. Heads were nodding around the room.
After that Dr. Delage continued with the importance of solid friendships and gave advice on how to choose and be a good friend. He talked about failure and how it ought to be used as a base from which one can launch future success. Dr. Delage pointed out that although little emphasis is put on personal responsibility in today's world, it's very necessary for personal success. He exhorted the audience to own up to our mistakes and, as with failures, to build on those mistakes; don't blame them on others or hide them away. Another of his points revolved around the idea that we are not isolated in this world. We need to be able to acknowledge those others in our lives who build us up and support us. And to do the same for others.
Probably Dr. Delage mentioned other things that were equally important, but those are the main points I remember. He was a good speaker with a message of worth to the listeners. I appreciate the time he sacrificed, both in preparation and in travelling to Plummer for the evening.
I also want to thank the school board and the administration at both schools for the nice evening. But more importantly, I thank them for the work they do daily for our kids.