Friday, August 19, 2016

Meeting the students, Berrian style

SCHOOL IS STARTING again and we are all wondering where the summer went. For parents, it's a welcome time of getting back into a daily routine. For teachers and administrators, it's often the most intense time of the year before things calm down.

Students? That varies. There are kids who love school, but I bet most would like a few more weeks of summer.

Emily, my daughter, is starting her job at Western Illinois as Professor of Oboe. This is her first real job using her degree. She is super excited and we are so proud. As she steps into the world of academia, I'm going back to 1999, when she attended third grade at Berrian School.

Berrian had been shuttered as a grade school and used for other purposes for many years. Then Quincy Public Schools decided to reopen it, and spent a lot of money fixing it up. We lived in Southern View, and we could have continued to send Emily to Adams, also an excellent school.

But the small class sizes were appealing. And she had the best teacher, Jill Schinderling Reis. Emily had a fantastic year at Berrian.

There were some parents who didn't want their kids to attend Berrian. I'm afraid it was bigotry and small-mindedness that drove it. They didn't want their precious little gems to be in the same room with "poor" students, or kids of a different color. One mom said, "I don't want my daughter in the same school with those kids from the Hills."

"The Hills" is Indian Hills, part of the Quincy Housing Authority. Sure, it has issues. So does my neighborhood. So does every neighborhood. People are defined by culture and upbringing. But good people come from all walks of life and deserve a chance.

The teachers of Berrian School went knocking on doors the other day to meet students and get ready for the first day of classes. God bless 'em. Seventeen years after Emily began a life-enriching experience at Eighth and Jackson streets, Berrian is still rocking.

Here's to a good school year, and I'm proud to say my daughter was, and always will be, a Berrian Bear.

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