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July 4, 2020

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Gravely concerned about Ada Board of Education decision

Students' courage in showing up at this meeting was most admirable

Dear Community Members:
I remain gravely concerned about the callous decision of the Ada Board
of Education to endorse the elimination of one of the school’s most highly
acclaimed extracurricular programs, over the strenuous objection of 32
citizens at the November 2019 School Board meeting.  

Ada High School Winter Guard was effectively abolished last  August, unbeknownst to the Ada Music Boosters, students, parents, and the wider Ada community.  

No public discussion was held, and when a cadre of concerned citizens learned of this decision from our students (not from school administrators), we presented our civil and respectful objections at the most recent Ada Board of Education meeting on November 21, 2019.  Our heartfelt support for Winter Guard seemed to be only patronizingly received and quickly discounted with an additional insult conveyed by Superintendent Skilliter in her ostensibly pre-prepared response in which she admonished all in attendance that the School Board’s decision was final, and that no further discussion would be entertained, even though she herself acknowledged that many questions remained unanswered.  

I hope and pray that any and all individuals who take exception to this “case
closed” summation consider voicing their opinions to any and all parties
who might be in positions of influence in re-opening public discourse on this

Furthermore, I respectfully suggest that such opinions be shared using every medium available so as to facilitate a greater awareness of this misguided and poorly executed community disservice.  We have a lot we can share to enlighten each other, and at the same time we have the responsibility to seek to expand the sometimes narrow-minded perspectives of decision-makers.

All too often students seem to be overlooked as powerless and even unimportant by some: marginalized by their current status in life, dependent
and without voices.  What a painful irony that these very students embody our
hopes and aspirations for the future.  Indeed, a share of the  responsibility for the welfare of our world, both locally and globally, will soon fall to them.  God help us all if we allow their voices to be silenced and/or disregarded.  At the very least we need to make certain that the messaging conveyed to these students is that THEY DO MATTER.  Their opinions matter.  Their courage in showing up at this recent Board of Education meeting was most admirable and should be applauded, rather than disdained as an inconvenient statement of their considered and cohesive opposition to a hurtful administrative decision.

As our own futures are so intimately intertwined with the nurturing of leadership skills and the guided development of attitudes and patterns of success in our students, I am dismayed that this vibrant and exceptional program was so abruptly discontinued.  Our students have been denied yet another opportunity for them to master new talents, hone their problem-solving skills, further develop teamwork attitudes and collaborative approaches, and to mature into the leaders of tomorrow, all of which would have served to better prepare them for full ownership of the future – theirs and ours.

For as long as I have been able to vote, I have never once declined to
endorse any school levy.  But at this juncture some particularly apt advice
seems to be that which was nonchalantly and heartlessly extended to our
students while being told that their Winter Guard program had been
eliminated: “Things change.”
Michael M Milks