Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wow, That Was Fun!

Last Friday evening our girls basketball team delivered an exciting win for our program, defeating Applington-Parkersburg in overtime. It was a lot of fun to watch the drama unfold as these girls competed for this hard fought victory! Even more exciting was the atmosphere that was created in our gym that night. We had a big crowd on hand for sure! Our student section was larger than it has been in some time, and our bleachers were packed. Besides the parents that had children playing in the game, in the band, or on the cheerleading squad; there were numerous other fans in attendance. I saw community members who haven't had a child in school for years and retired fans who were just looking for an evening of good entertainment. That Friday evening our competition gym was the place to be in Hudson. It makes sense then, that we do everything we can to encourage participation in our school events and activities. It doesn't matter to us if you are a participant or a spectator; if this is your first event, or if you have been to every single one. Please come out and enjoy the excitement!

I believe everyone would agree that we have had a lot of cause for celebration this fall. We can start with the amazing season our girls cross country team had, capturing the state championship for the first time ever! Or how about our football team? Their outstanding run took them all the way to the UNI Dome where they ended up playing for the state title, ultimately finishing as runner up. All along the way, we had a lot of people cheering our teams to victory. Yes, it has been a very special fall. A 'theory of schooling' in education suggests that this kind of success seems to make everything else in school go a bit smoother. Now, whether or not there is any truth to that is perhaps debatable, but in our case I have a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest this is in fact true. At the same time there is research that indicates students who have a strong connection to their school do better in their classes. Students who have a lot of school pride are less likely to cause disruptions to the school day or become behavior concerns. Students who attend a school where the expectations are high are, for the most part able to rise to the occasion when it comes to their own standards of personal conduct. And there is a direct correlation between participation in co/extra curricular activities and academic achievement. 

That is one of the reasons why it is so important for us to make sure as many of our students as possible are able to participate in these activities. Either as a member of the team, or as a spectator in the stands; we want them to be involved because everyone gets to share in the excitement that comes with winning a close game. Or the disappointment that comes when we lose that close game. It all builds up the character of our students, increases school spirit and pride in oneself. Further, the teamwork that comes with this camaraderie builds lifelong skills that transfer to the workplace. Everyone has a part to play and we don't want to let our teammates down (so you better make sure you get your homework done on time, study for the test, or make certain you don't get into any trouble). 

At the same time, we don't want to forget the whole point of why we are even here. The most important reason we are here is for the academics. Whether we are teaching youngsters to read or do advanced trigonometry, ultimately we are preparing them for the next challenge they will face. Maybe that is high school, college, or the workforce, whatever that might look like for them. All this other stuff that goes along with it: the athletics, the drama club, the band, choir, or student council are secondary, or even tertiary characteristics of our school. But this is all part of the recipe that goes into the American public education experience, and is why we have one of the best educational systems in the world.

Indeed, many of the athletes that are on our teams or are musicians in the band won't play beyond high school. But the lessons they learn and the memories they will create along the way will last them a lifetime. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Good Compromise

Over the last year I have shared thoughts on the need for residential development in our community. For your reference, please read my comments on October 10, 2017: 'At the Table or on the Menu'. Or if you really want to dig into the archives, check out my piece on September 29, 2016: 'Supporting Residential Development in Hudson'. The fact is, I am not alone in my support for these developments. Likewise, I would go so far as to suggest there is near universal, broad-based support among Hudson residents. At a minimum, our citizenry understands the economic impact of growth and development. The benefits to our school district have been established, and the broadening of the tax base is well known.

However, support often deteriorates when the proposed development is set to occur in our own backyard. I understand the objection from our neighbors to the North just as much as I understood the concerns of our neighbors near Springfield Avenue. Yet surprisingly enough, in both instances these residents expressed clear support for development. At the same time, they implored our city leaders and developer to listen to their concerns and allow them an opportunity to provide input into the process in an effort to make improvements that would benefit everyone. I have found this to be a very fascinating observation over the course of the last 12-18 months. Upon further reflection, I don't believe anyone has stated they didn't want these developments. Quite the contrary: they want to make them better, for those who will be their immediate neighbors, and for the entire community. Perhaps that is an anomaly. Instead of 'not in my backyard', I believe what I have heard is, 'let's make sure we do it right'.

In the interim, proposals have been modified and public hearings have been held. Engineers have 'engineered', and we have discussed traffic patterns on Ranchero Road. We even had a brief discussion about how the school bus stop is going to impact residents. Truth be told, this latest iteration probably makes the school bus route a bit more complicated, but I am confident we will be able to figure this out, just as we would have figured out the last design.

That is what happened on Monday evening. The city council took action on an amended proposal that had been suggested with input of residents. Working with the developer, I believe we have reached a satisfactory resolution and enthusiastically offer my support and endorsement of this project.

Admittedly, the process has seemed to take a bit longer than I would prefer. Certainly this has been stressful for our neighbors and our city council. But I take solace in the fact these proceedings have always been respectful. While there has been sharp disagreement with how best to proceed, I have been incredibly impressed with the conduct of everyone involved. It was through this discourse the amended plat proposal was approved by the city council on November 27 with a 5-0 vote. Is it perfect? Not at all. Is it without further modification? Probably not. Does it demonstrate a willingness to work together? Undoubtedly.

I would like to applaud everyone who has taken the time to engage on this issue. First our Ranchero Road neighbors for your thoughtful dialogue and willingness to work together for the good of the community. A tip of the hat to our developer for your open-mindedness and ability to take the input from our residents and continually improve on your concept. And finally our city council, for your bold vision and willingness to listen to the community you were elected to represent and making the hard decisions that will position us as the destination of choice when families are searching for a place to call home.

Finally, let's remember these residential developments are occurring in Hudson because people want to live here. Now, my narrow focus on the reason [why] is because of our outstanding school system. I continue to believe that. But, I think another reason has become apparent over the course of this discussion: a true spirit of cooperation, teamwork, and just being downright good neighbors to one another. With all we have going for us, who wouldn't want to live in Hudson?