Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Simple Suggestion #109... Speak your mind

Today, I'm doing a little happy dance. Why?

Over the past six months, I've written numerous letters to our School Board, Superintendant, and City Councillors about the need to keep our girls' school open. They wanted to close it and build a new school in a distant suburb for a lot of reasons that just didn't make sense.

For a lot of the last six months, I felt like I was hitting my head against school brick, but I just kept reiterating the facts in my letters... that our school is a valuable place because it is the only Kindergarten to Grade 12 single-track Catholic French Immersion school this side of Winnipeg, it is centrally located, close to the French community in Edmonton, well established, easy to reach by transit... and the list went on. I had interesting discussions with a couple of City Councillors via email, and I supported a more organized parent group even though I wasn't able to attend their meetings.

Last night, it all paid off. With 50 parents in attendance at the meeting, our school trustees voted unanimously to keep the old school open, with a view to some serious renovations. When I saw the headline, I whooped out loud, and my family came running! My youngest daughter just came up to me this morning and said, "I'm so glad our school is staying open. I don't care if I have to wear my coat in my class because it's cold sometimes. I get to graduate from my school!" And complete her French education!

I am thrilled for her, and for all the parents who, like me, did more than complain about the changes the Catholic School Board had planned for French Immersion. It's really easy to complain... what's more challenging is to complain to the right people. Human beings love to speak our minds and give our opinions to each other when we encounter things that seem unjust or poorly thought out, but speaking to the people with the power to make a difference isn't something that we think to do often enough. It's too easy to think that no one is listening... but clearly, our elected officials need to be in touch with their constituents!

So... your mission for today, if you choose to accept it, is to think about where your voice needs to be heard. If none of the parents at our school had bothered to organize and write letters and attend meetings, you can bet the vote would have gone the other way last night. Where can you speak your mind for something important today?

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.

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