Recently, we engaged in an ideological exchange of information about schools, which led me to propose the possibility of a whirlwind tour of a typical American high school. The following week found us in the capable and caring hands of Washburn High School staffer Debbie Lilly, who arranged visits to a variety of classrooms: English students reciting Shakespearean sonnets, students in research in the Media Center, proud Miller ladies showing their crafts in the woodworking shop, the biology lab in the newly added Science wing, a PE class (cardio-kick-boxing led by the football coach, himself a former Miller!) and a Japanese class that made them feel quite at home. Since Washburn is recognized as an International school, flags of many foreign countries flew in the hallways, where posters advertised the upcoming International Festival. Students of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and cultures filled the hallways as we watched them change classes. Teachers welcomed us, and students, with a mix of curiosity and eagerness to learn our identities, came forward with greetings. What a marvelous experience to see this slice of Americana.
Recognizing the challenges of educating the vast array of students, my guests affirmed the American ideal of public education. They understand the challenges of our cities today, yet spoke of the value of our country’s diverse population, in contrast to their home country. The schools of their backgrounds are without question very different from what they saw at Washburn but their visit to and welcome from this typical high school of the 21st century will be long remembered after their return to their homeland.
Thank you, Debbie, and thanks to those who work hard each day and believe in the worth of what we saw on the visit. You have my well-deserved respect.
Seale Lea, Lynnhurst