school consolidation

A somber crowd of parents, friends and alumni silently filled the Union School gym shortly after legislative Act 60 mandated the annexation or consolidation of school districts with less than 350 students.
Union averages just under 350 students. As a reporter on the scene, the sadness of the situation suffused me.
I’ve been there. I have heard the ultimatum, “It’s time to move. Get what you need and let’s go.” Whether I liked it or not, I had to move. I had to change schools.
Well, I didn’t like it, not anymore than any of folks from smaller schools or the larger receiving Arkansas schools like all the adjustments and accommodations necessary to meet Act 60. The changes mandated by Act 60 are very hard to accept – even if it does promise more educational opportunities in the future.
When I was half way through high school, I left the familiar small country school atmosphere of my first 10 years of school. I did not want to go. I was angry that I had to go. And, I was scared. I wanted things to stay the way they were.
We transferred to a large city high school with many students, an array of electives and a flexible schedule.
I hated being away from “home” … and those first few months and I told anyone who would listen just how miserable I felt.
But I also thrilled with delight as I studied the curriculum options at the new school. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I could take drama, another language, get credit for accounting without taking the class, and, wonder of wonders, I could even begin college if I took an Advanced Placement class. I signed up for everything I could.
At home, my older brother and I assured our younger siblings that their new science teacher was inferior to the one we had had. If they had had HIM, they too would have struggled in science.
The two youngest never had a chance to fight sleep under the old Latin teacher rumored to be an ex-nun. Instead they studied Spanish under the tutelage of woman with Mexican heritage. At the new school, I learned enough AP American History to earn college credit and enough chemistry to earn another C in science.
My big brother loved to play basketball. He made the team every year – until we moved and his skills did not catch the eye the new coach. We declared it was not fair. They had not given him a chance. He should have been picked.
He sucked it up and got busy with his electronics class – which was not offered in the small school where he made the basketball team. One evening, as I sat at the kitchen table filling in accounting sheets, he pulled out a catalog and tallied up the cost for building a radio. That was the year he decided to study engineering. He received a degree in electrical engineering and was employed by New York State Electric. He plays community basketball a couple nights a week.
Initially, the passing of legislative Act 60 was followed by the noisy misery of “it’s not fair. We have a good school. We like it.” followed by a resigned, “I guess we have to do something whether we want to or not.”
I am the last to say the next couple years will be a trip to wonderland.
I would like to suggest, if you have to change, take time to look around – you might discover options and opportunities you never encountered before.

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