May 11, 2011 - To the new Board of Education,
I think I need to introduce myself. My name is Olivia Shumaker. I am a Lake Orion High School student, and I would like to share a few of my thoughts with you. Please listen.
To the new members of the board: congratulations on your new positions. As to returning members: congratulations on your encore.
You have all run a hard election. How fortunate are the citizens of Lake Orion that so many community members are willing to step up to such a thankless task?
Now, of course, the fun is over. The board has a job to do: making decisions for the good of the Lake Orion school district and its students. That is, doing more with less money to do it.
Yet, when the conversations get heated, which they will, and the pressure builds on you, which it will, remember your duty as a school board. Remember that you were elected to do what was best for this school district.
The hard part will be to decide what is best for the school district. This is when I ask you to remember our faces.
Sometimes, what's best for this school district will not be what's easiest.
The fact is that we want what is best for our schools. We want the best buildings, the best athletic teams, the best resources, and the best technology. Community parents want their children educated by the best teachers, and we want to be able to pay them because they are the best.
The truth is schools all over Michigan are wondering how to do that. Your job is to question how we take the money that we have and make our hopes a reality.
So when you find yourselves bickering more than problem solving, and wondering why nothing is accomplished, think of the community. Think of the five-year-old who is so excited to go to school in the fall. Think of the students who are fighting tooth and nail to get fives on their Advanced Placement exams. Think of the elementary students learning how to read and do basic math. Think of the middle school students starting to find their niche. Remember our faces.
Hey, if that isn't enough, think of me. Think of how I have fought my way through advanced classes and my first Advanced Placement exam. Know that there is one student who is asking you personally to do everything you can to protect the quality of my education.
Remember my face, my brother's face, his teammates' faces, your own children's faces.
Think of the fact that someone in your community wanted to see a change and took the time to write to you in the hopes that you would listen, that you would hear how much the community wants things to start looking up.
Therefore, Lake Orion Board of Education, remember that just because your job doesn't officially start until July doesn't mean you are off the job. The community is counting on you to be the change we want to see, and if the community only matters within the confines of a conference room…
Well, you get the idea.
So when July rolls around and you are officially on duty, best of luck, and above all, remember our faces.