The beginning of the 2015-2016 school year is approaching quickly. The inception of the school year is an exciting time for all of us connected to the school community. “Anticipation” is perhaps a word in many of our minds, as a new school year often brings change. Education is often about reinvention, and as the new school year begins, the District is certainly seeing change, as a quick stroll on the west side of the campus will illustrate.
The school crest mentions “preserving the past, building the future.” This is a phrase that prompted much thought in recent months. “Preserving the past” obviously alludes to the fine tradition West Platte has enjoyed over the years. There are things that have been inherently good about our school for years, that do not need changed and will not be changed. Our society and technology race through change, sometimes breathtaking in scope and speed, which can give the impression of more substantive alterations to education than we actually experience. The fundamentals of what makes a school “great” do not change appreciably over time.
Education is essentially and primarily a people business. There is nothing more personal or human than taking our youngest and most vulnerable citizens to care for and educate. As long as there is an education industry, it will be for and about people. No amount of technology or legislation will ever really change that. Technology may (and may further) alter education, but even with the latest gadget, it is a people business. At some level, “preserving the past” should remind us of that simple truth.
“Building the future” is also a thought-provoking phrase and one that seems to yield to the reality of our modern world. While the basics of life and education really do not alter that much over time, there are undeniable differences between now and yesteryear. Many of these differences are positive. The challenge is to diligently identify and capitalize on the positives that inevitable change brings, and yet attempt to filter out new things which may be harmful, counter-productive, or just plain silly.
To “build the future” requires an open mind, as some improvements may first appear counterintuitive and hard to embrace. “Building the future” requires a nimble mind as circumstances and advancements happen quickly. It also requires a critical mind, as new is not always better. The challenge in education, and perhaps a contradictory challenge in some respects, is to ground kids with fundamental and unchanging truths, yet equip them for a world that will always attempt to question,sometimes rightly, many things taken for granted.
At West Platte, we look forward to the upcoming 2015-2016 school year. We look forward to sustaining what is great about West Platte and starting the architecture for great days ahead.
West Platte is a special place. The community and school district have the rural values and work ethic that, in my opinion, should be appreciated and celebrated much more than sometimes is, in our fast-paced modern society. We are also in a unique, and enviable, position geographically and resource-wise to allow us, as a school, to provide wonderful opportunities to our kids, which are unique for a school system this size. As someone who grew up in a small northwest Missouri community (Grant City), and who wishes to raise a family in similar circumstances, the school and community are an attractive destination. We are excited to be here.
Years ago, growing up in Worth County, Missouri, I spent summers working for an uncle, a farmer. He taught many lessons about work ethic, perseverance, and responsibility. Often, after completing the day’s work, he would look over whatever task we’d been engaged in and pronounce the result as “better than it was.” You never know for sure how long you have allotted to accomplish whatever pursuit. You do know what things looked like when you started and you know what they should look like when you leave for the day. The results are either better or worse. The goal here is simple, and quite frankly, borrowed from my uncle, to help the District progress, to be “better than it was.” Or, in perhaps more updated language, to preserve the past, and build the future.
Thank you for your support of our school and of our kids. May you all have a productive and safe 2015-2016.
Mr. John Rinehart