The school year is winding down. End of year activities are at a fever pitch. It’s a happy time but also a sad time. It’s happy for the obvious reasons of graduating and moving on in life. But it’s sad because many of the seniors have been at this school with classmates since 1st grade or before.
I can’t relate because my family moved about every 5 years and I attended a fairly large high school in California. I was more than ready for graduation and the step up to college. These 25 seniors however have long relationships that are fix’en to be drastically changed.
Our community has one of the largest public high schools in Alabama. So we have huge contrasts in educational choices. I use to believe that a large school offered more student opportunities than a small school. Today I’m not so sure. Here’s why.
Of the 25 seniors at our school, 16% are class officers. Of the nine girls, four are cheerleaders (44%) and three others play a varsity sport. Of the sixteen boys all but three played a varsity sport (81%). Over 20% of the class was on the journalism staff which published the school paper and developed the yearbook. We were in state playoffs in football, softball and baseball not to mention volleyball, coed soccer and both flavors of basketball. Our small track team won the state title for schools our size thanks in large part to one girl shot-putter who easily won her event. Three of our senior girls competed for county Junior Miss. One won it; one came in second; and the third won an individual 1st place award. Every senior went to the Junior-Senior Prom.
On the scholastic side, half of the calculus class participated in the district math competition. Science and art projects made state wide competition. Business students won statewide honors. When the Beta Club takes a field trip, the school may as well shutdown. And over half the senior class already has scholarships or financial assistance to colleges or universities. Many of these university acceptance letters were the result of extensive student extracurricular activities that made a difference in the quality of life at this school and in the eyes of acceptance committees.
My point isn’t to say hey, look how good we are. Rather it is to show that in small schools most everyone has to participate; and it’s not if, but when you step up to the bar, you will be put into the game.
As I reflect back on my HS experience and the experience of my children at larger schools, I am really pulled toward the conclusion that a small well run school offers a student more opportunities to make a difference than a large school.
If you are like most who read these columns, you are probably in the paper industry. As such you may live in rural communities or areas where public schools suffer financially. May I encourage you to investigate the private school sector? You may get fortunate and find a school like mine where students participate in a myriad of activities. Here both sides win. It’s fun to be a part of it.
Go Army – Beat Navy.
Gene Canavan is a retired West Point Graduate and Paper Mill Utilities Manager and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA