Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Largest Community

After a busy couple of weeks filled with budgets and policy I decided to spend my weekend decompressing a bit. Of course decompressing for me led to cleaning the house top to bottom, getting the car washed at the SCHS Choir fundraiser, running kids all over, paying bills, and the obligatory weekend trip to Lowe's that starts out as a quick trip for a couple of items and results in you commandeering an empty cart halfway through the store because you've already found more than you can carry in your arms and still haven't even picked up what you originally came for....the mums look great in my modest patio garden though. I worked for a nursery based in Shelby County for a few years in my early twenties where my duties included delivering blooming perennials all season long to various stores that purchased from us. I never associated mums with the end of summer until I had this job. Suddenly, the heavy scent of mums in bloom signified the coming of cool nights, crisp clear days, rib clinging bowls of chili, and of course football.

So, Friday night found me sitting alone in the stands at Robert Doyle Stadium about an hour before kickoff of the SCHS Homecoming game against Bullitt East. I'm almost always early to events because I like to get in, get settled, and appreciate the atmosphere as the excitement and crowd build and the atmosphere did not disappoint Friday night.

From where I was sitting on the front row at the south end of the bleachers I could see it all. The faithful were slowly filing in early in full Rocket regalia packing their seat cushions and cowbells. I saw Rockets of three generations greeting each other, sitting with old friends and family, and teasing friends. Current students were passing back and forth in front of me in cliques that are eerily similar to the cliques that existed when I was in school. Remember how your parents used to say trends just recycle themselves? They were right.....nothing is new.

Nothing is new but some things you notice for the first time. I suppose in all the years I spent at SCHS I was always wrapped up in the moment with friends and never really noticed the larger picture. When the marching band began to play though, and the hair on your neck stands up, and you look around to see that you're part of something bigger its a bit of an epiphany.

That feeling is the sense of community that washes over you. It's neighbors, family, friends, parents, students, teachers, coaches, and boosters all coming together in an event that's bigger than a football game. It's the same thing you see when you walk into a school for a play or a choir concert, a fall festival or back to school bash. Shelby County has its share of churches, rotary and ruritan clubs, athletic leagues, civic groups, and clubs that provide a sense of community for their members. However, no organization on its own does more to build a broader, more inclusive, more diverse community than the public schools.

No public or private institution touches more lives than our schools do. Not only do school events showcase the remarkable abilities of the students that participate but it gives them chances to lead, to be a part of a team, to hone a talent, and to be part of the larger picture of community. We come to support our children and we see neighbors and friends and build traditions that last a lifetime.

When we support our students and public schools not only do we develop students capable of leading and supporting our community but we build a strong community to leave in their hands.

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