Note: Three days ago I posted Blog #14 "A Little Sacrifice, Huge Return". It described the campaign to pass the School Tax levy which the State of Ohio would more than match to build three new high schools, an elementary school, remodeling of others. This blog is a follow-up and shows the euphoria in the victory celebration and reflections about it.
A GRAND SLAM FOR KIDS
(Originally published in the Gallipolis Daily Tribune November 2005)
At the electrifying election night gathering in a packed Gallia Academy auditorium, a red dot blinked on a map of southeastern Ohio, indicating victory to a standing ovation as red dot balloons popped like fire crackers. With youthful exuberance, kids with red dot tattoos on their faces cheered: “We got a red dot” with the tune, “Celebration” in the background, realizing that it indeed was a historical day. The levy for new schools passed in both the city and county…..a grand slam for Gallia County.
It was a landslide for the City Schools “Red Dot for Kids” (71% of the vote) and a clear majority for the County District “Quality Schools for Quality Kids” (55%). It was a great victory for the Community that worked so hard in a campaign that attracted the greatest local interest and best voter turnout in years at 55%.
All parts of the community pulled together. Businesses, in a demonstration of social responsibility, provided the funding ($60,000 for the city campaign with Holzer providing half) while school administrators, teachers, parents, and the kids themselves did the leg work. The campaign was beautifully organized down to the precinct level….. billboards, yard signs, posters, newspaper ads, pamphlets, auto decals, buttons, t-shirts, rallies, information meetings, a display in the library, newspaper ads, and even a website. Precinct captains and their volunteers got out the vote, making telephone calls through election day.
The Daily Tribune gave unprecedented support for the campaign with frequent front page coverage and acceptance of some 100 articles and letters from the community on the editorial page. Teachers, parents, and other citizens wrote on both sides of the issue. Even many of the kids themselves were able to put their writing skills into practice and learned a lesson in democratic civic participation as little citizens. One day the paper had two full pages of letters and articles. I’ve lived all over the world and never saw anything like it.
May the momentum of this community spirit and civic pride carry over into other activities, future campaigns, elections, projects, etc. The Community showed their willingness to sacrifice their resources for our kids. Those who own considerable land and property will have to bear more than their share of the tax burden. To them, we owe special gratitude, not to mention the out of county taxpayers of the State of Ohio, who will not benefit directly.
The kids can repay the sacrifices of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of property owners and other taxpayers by studying hard and making their investment pay off for the Community. May the teachers and administrators repay the sacrifices by renewed dedication and enthusiasm. May the Community and especially the parents continue their involvement in education and support the teachers, particularly those who stretch the students by demanding their maximum effort and excellence. Teachers cannot do it alone, especially in regard to discipline and motivation to study hard. Let’s put a greater value upon education now more than ever.
Finally, may we echo the beautiful prayer of thanksgiving given by Brent Saunders, the Assistant Principal of Gallia Academy, at the close of the victory celebration. We will certainly need divine guidance in spending the millions of dollars wisely with effective design and planning.