A banner stretched beyond both doors of a crew-cab pickup on March 8. Strategically placed, its bold letters resonated to hundreds upon their arrival at Central Point Elementary’s building: “Save Sams Valley School!”
Inside the structure, a cordial exchange between Board members and concerned citizens ensued. First on his agenda, lifelong resident, Dalton Straus read prepared remarks. “Both my parents went to Sams Valley when there were 12 grades there,” the well-regarded rancher said. “My dad was on Sams Valley’s School Board when they first voted to consolidate it with Gold Hill and Central Point Schools.” He added that while our children rate top priority, community integrity and support has to be a close second. “Today Sams Valley Elementary is our only community center remaining.”
Precocious seven-year-old Matson Fowler, whose daddy owned the banner-festooned truck, pled the cause from the students’ viewpoint. “It took years and years to make our field,” he said. “Now it’ll be gone. I’d also have a much longer bus ride every day if I went to Patrick”
Lance Weaver began by presenting petitions bearing 1,700 signatures opposing the school closure. Next he offered a proposal that illuminated the room’s huge display screen. His plan centered on the premise of redesigning SVE into a unique, K- 8 magnet school featuring a curriculum unattainable elsewhere. “We’d call it ‘SAMS’ – school of applied technology, math and science,” Weaver said. “We can lure not just the home schooled students, but pupils from other areas. Imagine 3rd and 4th graders building solar powered go-carts. They’d be mentored by 7th and 8th graders. We can accomplish a zero energy school.”
“With community support, sponsorship and donations this could be done. Sams Valley Elementary has land, baseball fields, soccer fields, and community gardens. Children can learn about hydroponic gardening; we can put solar panels on the roof; install green houses where kids can learn how to grow food. We can establish geothermal heating and cooling. Others can come out here and learn these techniques. A school in Utah received grants from Apple,” he continued. “It uses iMax and iPads, so there’s no waste of paper.”
He concluded to a solid ovation from spectators. Then a group of children came forward and presented letters they’d written bemoaning the possible closing.
The Board spokesman complimented all participants in the well-conducted, courteous program. Noting the lack of opportunity for other spectators who might wish to speak, the Board members made an impromptu offer. They accorded the Sams Valley residents another chance to voice their opinions on March 31 at Sams Valley Elementary if they so desired. Several in attendance seemed interested in that likelihood.
By F. C. Blake
Of the Independent