Saturday, September 08, 2007

A good place

I had a really happy moment in our small town tonite.

Today our marching band had their first competition of the season. They won first place for their division, their color guard won whatever the top honor was for that group, plus they won Grand Champion of the event! The buses were escorted back into town by 8-10 police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks--all flashing their lights and running their sirens.

I was so thrilled for those kids. It must feel pretty cool to have all that teenage energy and excitement after working hard as a team and then experiencing an achievement like that. To get that kind of support and enthusiasm from your community has to be a major bonus.

A lot of people wouldn't want to live in this town. We don't have a shopping mall or any cool restaurants. A lot of our downtown store spaces are empty. It's not what you'd call "economically thriving." Most of the kids in our schools qualify for free or reduced lunches. Up until just before we moved here 7 years ago, the high school drop out rate was right around 50%, or so I've been told. But the schools and the community have worked hard to give these small town, rural kids vision and purpose, and a whole lot more of them are graduating now.

In the middle school every student is required to be in a club. If they don't have a club you want, they'll help you make up your own. But every student has to be a part of something. The marching band has been gaining momentum for several years now, improving every year. It was interesting to see how many of the other bands were from MUCH larger schools, but had much smaller bands.

There might be more perks at bigger schools, or better funding. I wouldn't know too much about that. I graduated from a small Christian school. My graduating class consisted of a whopping 36 students. Including me. Being in a small pond can be really nice, though. Without a ton of competition for every team and activity, there's room for every kid to be able to try out the things they're interested in, without getting set aside if they aren't the best of the best.

That's how I feel about our town. It feels like wide open possibilities for the kids, with a community full of people that will get off their easy chairs to drive fire trucks through the town square on a Saturday night to celebrate their their children. It's a good place.

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