By Jerry Cegelske
January 31, 2006
It has been interesting listening to the statements made about
the Schoenbar School remodel and the kids being at "Schoenbon".
The Borough will be going to court for a fix for the school building
problems as the mayor has stated. What is more interesting
to me are the comments about our kids at the mall.
As parents it is normal to want the best for our children, and
this includes an environment that is conducive to learning.
The parents with children at Schoenbon didn't want them exposed
to the noise and distractions of the mall, which we can all understand.
Hopefully the majority of them took this as an opportunity to
help their children grow. Even as adults, we seldom get
everything that we want, and sometimes, thankfully we don't.
It is through challenges that most of us grow. In many
cases it is through failure that we learn (or at least should
learn). If that path is not the way to success, we need
to take another route. Edison learned of over 900 ways
not to light a light bulb before finding success.
I think that the children may be tougher than their parents,
and are reflective of their parents. The fact that they
had t-shirts with "Schoenbon" on them displays a healthy
attitude. In many cases it is through hardship that true
friendships and bonding develops. Many times it is the
"not perfect" times that bring out the best in us whether
it be the botched vacation, the wedding ceremony disaster, or
other disaster of the moment. These kids will be the ones
in 14-15 years that will be in the 4th of July parade with shirts
on that say "Schoenbon/KHS Graduate". This
is a bump in the road of their education, not a mountain to climb.
Hopefully the teachers will have the attitude of "That
was the toughest time to teach kids, but it was also the most
rewarding for me as a teacher. I had to draw on inner strength
I didn't know I had as a teacher."
Hopefully the parents didn't allow the fact that their children
were at the mall to be used as an excuse for a lesser effort
in school or an excuse for not doing as well. They should
be expected to do better with less time spent on other normal
school extracurricular activities and more time to study.
Children need and like to be challenged. If you do not
think so, why are they so eager to show you what they can do
or have learned. Remember when they told you to "Watch
me!" as they ride their bike for the second time or do something
they saw you do, that they couldn't do before. I think
this is one of the greatest reasons for children to drop out
of school. They are not challenged enough to keep their
interest and they get bored, they don't understand the relevancy.
One of the most difficult things to have children (and some adults)
understand is that everything that they do has a consequence
and an affect on their future, be it in driving, drugs, alcohol,
skipping a test, or not doing homework, skipping school to party
or what have you. From what I have read, many do
not have that physical ability as their brains are not developed
sufficiently to understand that until later in life (at about
age 100), no matter how much we try to teach them and get them
The PTA should change their name to PTSA for Parent, Teacher
and Student Association for it is only through the work and cooperation
of all three that education can take place. Since tax dollars
support our schools it is proper that the community demand more
from all three groups as it is otherwise a waste of money.
The parents should expect the best from the teachers and DEMAND
more from their children, including respect for their
teachers and fellow classmates. The teachers should expect
and get more cooperation and respect from their students and
parents in making sure the emphasis in the home is on learning.
The students should expect the best from the teachers and help
from their parents in placing their education as a top priority
(whether they want it or not). They have one chance at
a free grade school education and they need to take advantage
of it, and not use home study time to spend on having a good
time. It is doubtful that they will demand more homework
or extra assignments to be challenged to learn! This isn't
Burger King and they can't have it their way! They cannot
and do not, for the most part, understand they are affecting
their life forever, be it their retirement in 45 years, their
choice of a mate, or their future occupations and lifestyle.
It is up to the community and parents to guide them on their
road to a self sufficient life.
Notice that I did not put PTSBA, B standing for building.
If the children have the desire to learn, the parents stress
the need and help the child learn, and if the teacher is dedicated
to their students and profession, it doesn't matter where the
classes are held, learning will take place even if there are
difficulties facing everyone. Why did your grandparents
stress the difficulties they had in school? The one
room school, hauling water for the class, keeping the stove going,
walking the 2, 3, or 4 miles to school thru snow and rain?
I think they were usually bragging about the obstacles they
were facing and overcame to reach this point in their lives and
were proud that they had the fortitude to do it. Many in
small schools accomplished more with their lives that others
that had all the advantages.
In October 1997, I flew to Vladivostok in the Russian Far East
and met with members of the AMBA patrol, a government conservation
group charged with the duty to protect the Siberian tigers from
poachers. After a week there we traveled to the small town
of Lazo, about 100 miles E. N. East of Vladivostok to teach Russian
managers of conservation agencies about wildlife law enforcement
in the United States. Lazo's major industry had been shut
down with the breakup of the former Soviet Union which made for
tough economic times in the village. Lazo was in the middle
of tiger country and surrounded by forested areas.
At lunch time, we would walk past the village school to the building
with the dining hall in it. One day the children were running
races on the sidewalk and a race was about to start between two
8-10 year old students. I stopped next to them and waited
until the teacher blew the whistle and the three of us took off.
I came in second! We all had a good laugh about the race.
Any playground equipment they had could have been made from wood
purchased from a lumber yard for $500.00 and made on a weekend.
Several days later when the land and water managers were discussing
their problems and we weren't needed, I told the interpreter
that I wanted to go to the school for an hour. We went
to the administrative office and told the principal that we wanted
to talk with some school children. She told us to wait
and left. Later she came back and said we would meet with
the 5th and 10th grade English language classes.
I was in front of the classes and told them who we were and where
we were from and why we were in Lazo. After that I explained
that I wanted to answer their questions and said to feel free
to ask questions. One girl raised her hand and asked "Do
you get paid every month?". Another asked
how many stories the building I lived in had. Other questions
were about my children, what kind of music I liked and other
It wasn't until I thought about the odd questions that I understood
the reason for them. They asked about being paid because
some of their parents hadn't been paid for 9 months after the
breakup of the former Soviet Union, and the less advantaged of
them lived in apartment buildings of up to 10 stories.
The sad thing was that there was a book shelf in the back of
the room which did not contain books by the great Greek, Roman
and Russian masters, it contained one plant. The walls
were bare except for a black board. For an English class,
there were no ABC's as expected, as we have in our grade schools
here, I saw some books in the backpacks but note paper was in
very short supply. It caused me to think back on all the
National Geographic magazines I had thrown out and how they could
have been used there, the pictures and information (even ads)
devoured by the children with their thirst for knowledge.
When I left I gave the teacher a bag of candy to share with her
As I mentioned the town lost its major employer and money was
not readily available, they didn't know where they were going
to get coal to meet the school and town heating needs.
I checked the storage shed and there was only about 5 tons of
coal on the floor. The residential area of town where
I assumed the "rich" people lived had a well that you
would love to see. It was straight out of the fairy tale
books with a roof, bucket, rope and crank. I forgot to
mention that the school was about as old as N. Pt. Higgins school
but it was made of pine and the pine boards that made up the
floor were worn from the thousands of feet walking on them daily
and flexed when I walked on them.
We have a newly remodeled high school, N. Pt. Higgins is relatively
new, Fawn Mt. will be brand new, a remodeled Schoenbar and older
Houghtling and Tongass School of Arts and Sciences. If
the school your child learns in is more important than your involvement,
their teacher, and your child's involvement in the learning experience,
we can expect the test scores from the kids going to the new
Fawn Mt. school to be the best in the state, followed by the
students of the remodeled Schoenbar. Of course they will
decline yearly after that as the school does.
If you or your children do not appreciate the building they are
learning in, think of
the school children in Lazo, I think they would love to trade
places with any student, in any of the classrooms of any of our
schools, "Schoenbon" included.
"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity"
Ketchikan, AK - USA
About: Jerry Cegelske is a
Code Enforcement Officer with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.
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