Letter to the editor: Ripton School has encouraged academic excellence

In reference to closing the small schools in ACSD, I second Wendy Leeds’ April 15, 2019 letter to the editor.
In September of 2017 we learned through his transcript, that when the final MUHS grades were posted for graduates of 2017, our son Bryce had met his goal of graduating first in his class. There is no question that to meet this goal, intelligence, hard work and diligence are required; the credit goes to the student.
However, it is my belief that Ripton Elementary School played a huge role in Bryce achieving this goal. The strong foundation of attending a small school that strives toward educational excellence creates academic strength in students at the onset. The family-like setting allows faculty and staff to actually know every child and adjust to each child’s strengths.
Instead of having to “stick” when their abilities exceed their grade level, Ripton students receive assignments to further their talents and challenge their aptitudes. Lessons encompass a wider range, allowing more outdoor exploration, theater, music, art and other life-broadening skills. Intelligence is encouraged along with well-roundedness, so a student has permission to be “smart” but “cool” at the same time.
In the article, “How Many Schools Do We Need?” (April 22, 2019, Addison Independent) it was mentioned that our small schools are the center of our communities and they attract young couples to our towns. We were one of those couples; we lived in Middlebury and moved to Ripton so our child could attend the Ripton School.
Another plus: entering middle school with a fresh start makes it a great time to meet the students from the other elementary schools. Putting those kids all together in elementary school may lead to early cliques and judgments that could haunt a child through the child’s entire ACSD education.
I think the members of the school board need to ask themselves some serious questions of what they are thinking. Are you putting the children first? Instead of choosing to rein in corporate health insurance costs to save money, or cutting administrative costs, you are choosing the option to lessen your students’ educational excellence.
Look, property taxes are cumbersome and I would like to see relief, but this route doesn’t make sense (or even enough cents). There must be a better way.
Judy Kowalczyk

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