Amy Besler: A community and its schools is the soul of a society
Nevada County’s rich history, vibrant culture, and thriving communities reflect the values imparted within its public schools.
Each school community carries a piece of the social thread that has strengthened Nevada County for generations. Our beautiful elementary and middle schools prepare students for the high school education that will enable them to succeed well beyond our county’s borders and their own imaginations.
Nevada Union and Bear River serve our high school students in the north and south parts of the county, respectively. While it doesn’t seem like long ago that Bear River was the “new” school, the jewel of the South County has entered its 31st year, embarking on a new phase that includes embodying its own sense of culture, history, and tradition. As beautiful, clean, and idyllic as the Bear River campus absolutely is, it is also in serious need of repairs, right along with its first-born sibling, Nevada Union.
Both schools have issues with gas and water lines, heating and air conditioning, roofing, and other fundamental components of sound facilities. Measure B, on your November ballot, will help these beautiful schools continue to thrive.
Whether in keeping with our philosophical views about education or not, it is a reality that public schools must now fight for our own neighborhood students. As Bear River’s principal, my job is easy — there are more praises to sing about our programs and student accomplishments than I could enumerate here. I also understand that, in order to continue to thrive, we need to continue to invest in our community schools.
I recently heard an argument that was truly baffling. The suggestion was made that Bear River should be closed and Bear River students should be transferred to Nevada Union. Let me first be clear in stating that the Nevada Joint Union High School District is committed to Bear River. Superintendent Dr. Louise Johnson said it best, “It makes no sense whatsoever to close Bear River High School. Period.” Secondly, the mere suggestion of it lacks insight into the importance of a community and its schools. An empty school campus poses significant safety concerns while simultaneously removing the heart and soul of the community.
South County is a community and Bear River High School and its students and programs are integral to that community.
While enrollment has declined throughout Nevada County over the past many years due to economic and demographic factors, Bear River’s enrollment is stabilizing; for the second consecutive year, our enrollment is 50-plus students higher than projected. Our amazing staff, incredible programs, vibrant culture, and forward-thinking mindset are drawing students from other districts and counties, which will continue to happen as a result of our determination to provide the highest-quality education possible.
Whether you have children in our local schools or not, you surely understand the multi-faceted value of thriving local schools. Not only do we have a moral obligation to provide our young people with safe, high-quality educational environments and experiences in their own communities, we know that doing so makes our communities stronger. Amazing schools increase property values, as they attract families looking for the best educational opportunities for their children. I know I chose the place I raised my family based, more than any other factor, on the quality of the schools.
Perhaps G. K. Chesterton said it best, “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.”
Our communities have soul and, thus, are the envy of many. Our students and our communities deserve the commitment of the collective to ensure their ability to thrive well into the future. Together, we can and will make this happen. Our kids are counting on us.
Amy Besler is principal at Bear River High School.
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