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School’s open; there are lessons to be learned

September 3, 2009
Lake Placid News
It’s back to school time, and once again motorists are urged to drive safely and be mindful of children traveling along the road on their way to and from school. It is also a good time for parents and school officials and faculty to capitalize on opportunities that will teach children important lessons that will help them become better people and citizens.

    There are at least two such opportunities that are present in the Lake Placid area.

    First, there is the lesson of human fallibility and the importance of dealing with difficult situations and taking responsibility for one’s actions.

    St. Agnes School Principal Anne Bayruns was recently charged with driving while intoxicated. People on one side of the fence say Bayruns is only human and people should forgive her and move on. The other side says that she is a role model, her behavior is inexcusable, and she should be fired. Bayruns does indeed hold a role model position that requires self-restraint and leadership — and she faces a higher standard.

    If she was forced to quit, what is the lesson children learn? That faced with adversity, a person must leave in shame? It is important that children know people do make mistakes in life, but it is equally important for them to understand that there is a proper way to react to those mistakes.

    Bayruns and St. Agnes officials still have a chance to lead by example.

    It’s not that a person falls down, it’s how they pick themselves up that counts.

    The second learning opportunity is the matter of civic duty, how to institute the process of change and getting the community to support a worthy cause.

    Last year, the Lake Placid News reported the Lake Placid Elementary School playground had trace amounts of arsenic, which was confirmed by an independent study funded by the school district. Although school officials said the arsenic level was small, they still plan to eventually tear down the current playground and build a new one.

    Children in the entire school system can learn, and live, the process of taking action, how to organize a fundraising effort and more importantly learn that people in small communities can make a difference. Students can learn about arsenic in other school playgrounds and reach out to students who were impacted at other schools. How rewarding would the feeling be for Lake Placid students to know they helped play a role in getting a new playground?

    Even students in the Middle/High School can familiarize themselves with the issue — there are learning opportunites on several levels. Although school officials did not publicly acknowledge a threat to children’s health, the fact is that arsenic poses real health risks. The playground situation is a great lesson of something in the school environment that requires change.

    Throughout the year, other learning opportunities will present themselves. It is the duty of parents and school to recognize such opportunities and utilize them to the advantage of the students.

    Life is one big series of lessons — the important thing is to learn from them.



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