Letter to the Editor from Clarence Resident and former Educator, Susan McCarty
From the responses I received from the letter I wrote in May, it appears my letter was widely read. This should be good for the newspaper business. So, I hope you will allow me a second letter about redrawing the school district lines so that Clarence students may attend Macon R-I School.
First on my heart is the Clarence Homecoming. In recent weeks the Cardinal Kids United have been advertising to get a crowd from Shelbina to march in the Clarence Homecoming Parade wearing their South Shelby colors and carrying signs. To me, this rings of an organized protest.
In talking with the Excellence Through Opportunity group, they have chosen not to participate in the Clarence Homecoming Parade. Traditionally, the Clarence Homecoming is about friends, family, and fun. It is meant to be a relaxing, enjoyable time. The Homecoming is about enjoying the entertainment, visiting with folks you’ve not seen for ages, taking the children or grandchildren on the carnival rides, eating cotton candy or funnel cakes, supporting the concession stand.
While Shelbina people have the right to walk in the Clarence Homecoming Parade, their plan has raised concern in the community. The Excellence Through Opportunity group does not want to turn the Homecoming grounds into a campaign battleground. We will do what we can to ensure the Clarence Homecoming remains neutral grounds, and will not be engaging the opposing side.
The Clarence Homecoming committee asks that neither side set up a booth, nor hand out fliers. Excellence Through Opportunity encourages all patrons of Macon R-1 School and Shelby County R-IV School to visit the excellencethroughopportunity.org website for excellent information on the Macon R-I School system. Additional information is added to the website weekly. So, please check it out.
Second on my heart is Shelby Co. R-IV School. I truly wish the best for Shelby Co. R-IV School. I taught in the system. I served on the board for Shelby Co. R-IV School. All three of my children graduated from South Shelby. I would not pursue sending Clarence students to Macon R-1 School if I didn’t believe Macon R-1 offered more educational opportunities. I also would not pursue sending Clarence students to Macon if I thought it would harm South Shelby School.
Shelbina people wanted to build a new elementary at South Shelby. You may remember 84 % of Clarence people said they did not want a new elementary. Clarence people wanted to keep their elementary school open. It did not happen. Shelbina people are getting what they wanted, a new elementary located at South Shelby. Shelby Co. R-IV has a healthy fund balance. They do not need the help of Clarence patrons to build a new elementary, nor to be a viable school district.
Even without Clarence students, Shelby Co. R-IV will be larger than many area schools. These area schools continue to thrive and provide a quality education to their students. Among those smaller schools providing quality education are North Shelby, Atlanta, La Plata, Marceline, Bevier, etc.
Third on my heart are the Shelby Co. R-IV students affected by the change in schools. The Macon R-1 Board of Education has stated that those students currently attending high school at South Shelby may make a one-time election to finish high school at South Shelby. If the student chooses to finish High School at South Shelby, rather than finish at Macon High School, Macon R-1 School will pay their tuition to attend South Shelby School.
Since Clarence Elementary students leave Clarence to attend Middle School anyway, attending Macon Middle School should be no more of an adjustment than attending South Shelby Middle School. Current Middle School students making the switch from South Shelby to Macon R-1 School will not be losing friends. They will still have friends from Shelbina, but will also be adding friends from Macon.
The statement has been made that students feel loved in Shelby Co. R-IV schools, and that South Shelby is “Home.” I think students are loved in every school system. I have yet to meet a teacher or administrator that didn’t love students and want the best for them. I also think “Home” is wherever you settle in and decide to be happy. I have also heard a lot about “Cardinal Pride.”
I have made several school settings “Home,” and cheered for many a mascot. I began as a Macon Tiger, followed as an MU Tiger, then a Northeast MO State University (Truman) Bulldog, Shelbina Indian, Clarence Guerilla, South Shelby Cardinal, Macon Co. R-IV Raider, back to a Macon Tiger and ending as a Clarence Cardinal. I found wonderful students and staff in each school. I grew through the experience of meeting new people and accepting new challenges.
While change is difficult, it doesn’t have to be a tragedy. Students will handle a change in schools, only as well as, the adults in their life handle a change in schools. We must look to the future, and grab hold of those opportunities that come along.
I end my letter with a quote, “Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Clarence students are being given the opportunity to attend a quality school with far more quality programs. I hope patrons of the Macon R-1 and Shelby Co. R-IV schools will turn this opportunity into a reality.
Susan McCarty, Clarence Resident
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