This guest editorial by Matt Wandrie was featured in Sunday’s Lapeer County Press.
One solution is never enough to bridge the gap between good and great. To simply come together won’t get us where we need to go.
We must work together to forge a new, brighter future for our community.
As we enter the final stretch of our historic unification of East and West High Schools, we are coming to grips with what one banner will mean for the future of Lapeer. From here on out we rally together, we root together and we take the first of many steps toward the restoration of the great tradition of One Lapeer.
This past week, many of our students had the opportunity to meet former Michigan State basketball player Anthony Ianni. To many of our kids, Ianni, at 6-foot-9, is larger than life. His message is even bigger.
Ianni is Autistic. He is the first person with the disorder to accede to the ranks of NCAA basketball. He told a group of students at Murphy Elementary on Wednesday that he was bullied during his elementary years, and even into middle school. He was targeted because he was different. Ianni said he succeeded where others failed because he had friends, teammates, and teachers – all family – looking out for him. It was that sense of the familial and familiar, phenomena we all experience, that changed his life. It was a support system, a community and ultimately individuals choosing to befriend rather than belittle that set his course.
As the community rallies around the banner of One Lapeer, we become people identified by a place, a time and a vision. People who look out for each other in a place that is no longer about “them,” but “us. “
“You are all in the Lightning Family,” he told the students.
As an organization, we believe that a culture of consensus can overcome the anxiety that always accompanies change. If we approach this transition as a family, as stakeholders in the shared future of our community, we will not fail. We won’t always agree on the route, but as a community we must agree on the destination: excellence in all that we do.
We must first demand more of ourselves and, second, expect more from our young people. They are capable of great things. Starting this fall, we will offer more academic opportunities for our students that at any point in our history. More rigor, more support and more (and better) choices.
This transcends a consolidation. This is the year we put our stake in the ground as a community, the year when excellence is an expectation not an outlier. The foundation has been laid, and we are ready to build.
We have a plan for K-12 alignment that we can achieve; we have a structure that is sustainable; and, most importantly, we have a vision that is less about the adults and more about our kids.
We are writing the first chapter of a story worth reading, telling and re-telling.
In the coming months, many of you will encounter members of an intrepid group of volunteers who have been tasked to spill our beans, to ensure that the program we’ve built over the last three years isn’t a secret.
This group of Ambassadors, more than 100 strong, are taking our message to the streets and encouraging anyone who will listen to take a fresh look at Lapeer. But don’t wait for them to come to you. I encourage you to get connected to LCS online (LapeerSchools.org) to learn about all the exciting new initiatives coming this fall.
And don’t just look at what we’re offering our students; consider all that’s new, innovative and exciting.
Lapeer is a great place to live and learn, and we’re confident more and more people will choose the District of Choices.