By Terri Lynn Oldham House
This week, we received numerous letters, some in support of candidates, others blasting some candidates, many supporting ballot issues and some opposing ballot issues. You won’t read those letters in today’s paper.
It’s our tradition to not print political letters the week before the election. However, we received an email Monday the made us break that tradition.
Pagosa Springs High School science teacher Heather Miller’s email explained that her science class analyzed the pros and cons of Proposition 114 as a final project for an ecology unit. Part of that project was writing Letters to the Editor. She submitted three of those letters for publication. It was the goal of her students to inform the public. We didn’t want the hard work and efforts of these students to go unnoticed, so you will see them printed in a special section of the letters this week labeled “Letters from Students.” We applaud these students for their research and forming their opinions and sharing them publicly.
This year’s election, combined with the added stress created by the pandemic, is no doubt one of the most negative and divisive that we’ve ever experienced.
We were grateful to hear a message from Archuleta School District Superintendent Dr. Kym LeBlanc-Esparza at last week’s Rotary Club meeting. She shared the “Reflection” portion of her Friday memo to her staff.
“This week, I am sharing the Colorado Association of School Board’s Fair Campaign Practices Act — Do’s and Don’ts. Given we are coming up on Nov. 3 very quickly, it is a good reminder for us all on what we should and should not do, given our roles.
“I started thinking about this earlier in the week as ballots began to be delivered in our mailboxes. This year’s election feels very ‘electric’ throughout our nation, regardless of any political affiliation, so I wanted to be sure we all were reflective of our accountability to FCPA,” LeBlanc-Esparza read.
“Next week, I will also be meeting with counselors to talk about the bigger picture implication of the week of Nov. 3. I had to think back to 2016 and the week of Nov. 3 to realize that we, as educators, can do a lot to prepare for that week in a positive way.
“Much like 2016, there will be people who are elated with the outcome of the election and there will be those that are very unhappy with the outcome.
“I remember that I sorely underestimated the way that people would react in 2016, both those who were happy about the outcome and those that were disappointed. In the days following the election, we dealt with a lot of emotion in students, staff and families. Students cannot help but feel the emotion that the adults in their lives exude throughout this election season.
“Regardless of who wins this year’s election, I would ask us all to do everything in our power over the next few weeks to reinforce a message of respect and kindness for each other.
“We have the ability to model for our students what it means to respect each other, what it means to be kind, regardless of the outcome of an election.
“In the end, as we go forward from that week, we all continue to work together, to take care of one another and to respect each other as fellow citizens.
“Children look to us for reassurance and guidance that their world is a safe place. We give them that on a regular basis as educators.
“I believe that given the constant attention that television and social media is giving this year’s elections, coupled with the challenges that 2020 has thrown at us, I think our kids will take their lead from us regarding how we treat each other and how we look to make a positive difference in our school and local community.
“I know we have an amazing staff who show up every day, expecting to make a difference with kids. I appreciate everything you do in ways big and small. I know you all will make that same difference during the month of November as we help students move forward beyond elections.”
These words of wisdom from our superintendent of schools are important for us all to hear.
Whatever the outcome of this election, we are setting an example with our actions. Let’s make it a peaceful and positive experience. Whether your side wins or loses, we all need to come together and move forward together for the betterment of our community.
Terri Lynn Oldham House