It is the feeling that if we don’t rise up to the challenge there may be students in the upcoming classes who will miss the opportunity to find their true vocation in music, athletics or rock climbing. It is up to us as a community to pull together to provide these opportunities because we know it is the right thing to do.
The past three weeks my family has been in Mexico, our adopted second home since the mid-90s when an international assignment took us there. While there, one of the things that became apparent is that a great country like Mexico is held back from its potential by problems in how it provides education. Basically, the way it works there is that people send their children to schools based on what they can afford. Better schools cost the most and what is provided for free is really marginal in quality. If you have any resources at all, you send your children to some sort of private institution. Thus the Mexican government spends its money on what is of marginal value and the entire nation is stratified based on economic circumstances. The rich then have a hegemony on education.
What you don’t hear coming out of Mexico are stories of brilliant children from humble circumstances being “discovered” and sponsored along to bigger and better things. They can rarely afford textbooks, so the teacher writes everything on the board and the children spend 60 percent of their day copying down sentences to punctuate or math problems to solve. You also don’t see school kids walking home toting a trumpet or violin. Music is something that parents have to get for their kids as a totally separate proposition. So the bottom line is that rather than supporting “the school” of the community, the people of Mexico have a fractured and inefficient system.
It thus behooves us to pool our resources in this community – from all sectors – to broaden and amplify the educational opportunities for the children of Ridgway. That’s why we’re pursuing public and private grant monies, business sponsors and individual donors. This approach will add to the existing school infrastructure that has already been funded through tax initiatives. The end result – and the optimal result – is a well-rounded education combining academic, musical and physical education not for those who can afford the private tuition but for every child in the community. This is what makes our education system great.
Hence the sense of urgency. The school-age children of Ridgway need and deserve this well-rounded education in order to best thrive in a complex and demanding society. The urgency not only surrounds the educational experience but also the continued escalation in the cost of building materials. The previous building initiative that gave us the secondary school (the academic part) wasn’t able to accomplish all that was intended due to materials cost escalations. We have to seize the day, the month and the year. The actual construction will take approximately six months. Fund raising will run through the end of February of 2008.
This is not by coincidence. In order to have the new secondary school gym and music facilities ready for classes in the fall of 2008, we have to increase the sense of urgency. The community that recently rose up to support a local family from deportation to a hostile situation due to immigration snafus needs to rise up again!
For more information on how you can get involved, call Kelly Hagemeyer at 626-4444.
Want to see and learn more? Please be our guest at the fundraising kickoff event on Sept. 15 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the secondary school. Come and see where the new gym, climbing wall and music room will be constructed. Come and share some food, music and fun at this event.