LETTER TO THE EDITOR
A letter to Community District Library Voters
On August 4th the Community District Library is asking voters to renew it’s 0.7 mill for library operations for the next 4 years. To be clear, this is not a new tax but a renewal of the same rate as the last 8 years. A majority of the funding for the library comes from the millage.
The library benefits local communities with it’s various services, lending books, ebooks, audiobooks, library interloan from libraries all over Michigan, computer access, printing, faxing and so much more.
The library branches host wonderful events and programs all year round. People of all ages enjoy cooking demonstrations, books clubs, story times, craft classes and cultural presentations. During the Summer, all of the branches have Summer Reading for kids and teens to encourage reading all Summer.
It’s important that we have local libraries available as place for people people to go, a community space similar to a community center. Libraries are that space for a lot of people. During the school year, the libraries are always buzzing with activity from kids who go there to use computers to unwind afterschool or catch up on homework. Other times, people stopping in to request the newest best seller from their favorite author, pick up craft kits for their kids, use computers, browse for books, or to meet for tutoring.
I urge voters in the Community District Library service area to consider voting on August 4th to support the library millage renewal.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Many of us walked the halls of Arthur Lucas Junior High while we were awkwardly navigating adolescence. It felt like a rite of passage for a Durand student for nearly 50 years. I shared that experience with my parents, who walked those same halls, but I will not share that experience with my own children because there came a time when it was necessary to make that building a nostalgic memory and move forward. Many of us also share with our own children experiences of attending Robert Kerr and Bertha Neal, as well as DHS. These buildings easily date back to the early 60s, and while our community has done an amazing job of caring for them with love, they are struggling to keep up with the demands of our children, our community, and our times. On August 4, our community will have an opportunity that comes at a unique time. The needs of our students and our schools are more visible now than ever..
With additional students interested in taking STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) because of the growing demand for jobs in these fields, we need classroom space and technology that meets those needs. That is addressed in the bond proposal by providing funding for upgrades to STEM labs and equipment in all buildings. We have a Robotics Team today, led by Mr. Justin Shankster, that we didn’t have when I was a 12-year-old at Arthur Lucas. This is one simple example of how times change, and how we have to support our students and ensure that we are preparing them for their world after school.
As more students participate in the performing arts, including a high school choir of over 60 students, our award-winning band, our drama class that now performs both a fall and a spring play, and a Disney performance organized by our dedicated elementary staff this past year, there is also an opportunity to provide a performing arts center. This would be beneficial not only to those groups, but also to events often held in cramped gyms or cafeterias. The performing arts center would also be an asset to the community for various community events and could even be used to generate revenue by renting it for outside events such as dance recitals. Surely it would serve as a pillar of pride for our schools and our community, and would set us apart from other districts in our county.
Another pillar of pride could be a turf field at Roundhouse Stadium. Over 10 years ago, our band had to let go of their beloved invitational because the state association required schools to have a turf field in order to host an invitational. We have an opportunity to bring our Durand Band Invitational back to our home stadium. Last year, our youth football program lost out on two weekends of revenue due to cancelled events because of poor field conditions. They lost out on thousands of dollars, and they ended up hosting a make-up day in Linden, on Linden’s turf. We don’t need to rely on another district if we provide this to our own community, our own students.
We can also provide to our students at Robert Kerr Elementary through this bond. Robert Kerr is a beloved, successful elementary that has taken good care of our children over the years. It now needs some love in return. Her halls are bursting with children, her rooms are packed, and her cabinets are falling apart. Her heart, the cafeteria that also serves as a gym, no longer supports her student body. This bond will add classroom space, and will refresh the face of the classrooms already there. It will also add a Railroader Athletic Center that will serve as both elementary gym space, as well as practice and event space for youth, middle school, and high school athletics and extra-curricular events, all of which are at record numbers of participation. I can already hear us referring to practice at the RAC! It has a nice ring to it! Bertha Neal, serving the youngest of our family in preschool through first grade, will also see a facelift that is long overdue.
I take you back to Arthur Lucas because it feels like the root that holds this whole tree in place, especially now that it serves as home to senior members of our community. It is the essence of community because it’s a place, I think, that so many in our community connect with. Those of us who have the privilege of voting on this bond likely have some of our own roots connected to its prime. While my own parents and family members were part of the history of Arthur Lucas, they were also part of those who voted to close its doors to students. Despite closing those doors, they opened the doors to a new experience for future students. Over time, change is a necessary thing, and it takes some foresight to realize that old is comfortable and sentimental, but new is good. New is necessary. It means we are moving our community forward. We always have to look for new opportunities, new doors to open, new challenges that we can tackle, and new hope for our future. My hope, the hope of our students and our school family, is that we will take full advantage of this opportunity to open new doors for our students.
Our motto for this project is “Community Driven, Student Centered, Future Focused.” Members of our community, your own friends, family, and neighbors, asked for these changes because they recognized the need and wanted better for our students. After initial conversations, a group of us sat around the table talking about how this could look. We were focused on our students and their unique needs now and in the future. Now that everything has fallen into place and we have a voting date on August 4, it’s time to get focused on a new future for our kids!
Durand High School Academic and Student Service Coordinator