It's 525 miles from Brainerd to my hometown of Bloomfield, Iowa. That translates to about 10 driving hours which, in turn, translates to a lot of thinking time. And that's what I was doing last month when Mrs. H and I drove there for a 62-year reunion of the high school graduating class of 1945.
It was a curious blend of remembrances of my own school days and my present responsibilities as a member of the Brainerd School Board.
Bear with me for a moment and I will explain. In 1939, the Bloomfield community was just coming out of the Great Depression, but faced a dire need for more school space. It was not a particularly auspicious time, but the people voted to tax themselves for a major addition which made it possible to transfer the eighth grade from an overcrowded elementary building into the high school to make it a five-grade facility. Now, 62 classes later, it is still in use.
In that building, I learned a lot of things that have guided my life. Two come immediately to mind. The first involved an underground newspaper we called "The Radical." The second involved skipping classes one beautiful spring day.
As to the newspaper, the principal accepted it with good humor but advised those of us responsible that our effort would be a lot more rewarding if we had the courage to sign our name to it. We did for the second edition.
He was right and I have followed that rule through both my 43-year news reporting career and my 14 years as a school board member.
As to skipping classes, he said that while we had a perfect right to do it, he had a perfect-duty to impose consequences - three days of after-school study-hall detention.
These remembrances and others blend with my concern for the levy referendum issue being faced this fall by the Brainerd school district. The issue is clear. There is a real and significant need for additional investment in education.
In support of that, we are reminded of earlier such investments by others that have helped each of us accomplish our present standings in life. Now, we are challenged to do the same for today's students.
As we consider this issue, I would remind us that as free people, we have a perfect right to be wrong but an obligation to be right.
LEW HUDSON is a Brainerd School Board member and a Baxter resident.
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