Letter to the editor: Small community schools valuable

Our three children attended the Ripton Elementary School and for our family, living in a small mountain town, the school became the center of our lives. Our children learned that they lived in a place where education was valued and people worked hard to support their school. They learned to identify with and be proud of the uniqueness of their hometown: its geography, history and people; they learned the importance of place and how they fit in it.
Our children are grown now but they speak fondly of this experience and know they are lucky to have had it. Their school and town has shaped them.
I am heartbroken when I think about the many young families who have moved to Ripton to raise their children and who may not get to experience as we did the value of a small community school. I emphasize small because as a former public school teacher, I know that when the student/teacher ratio is low, students are seen and known by their teachers and their community. It is in this context that children thrive. This becomes ever more important as we become increasingly less connected and our world more complex.
ACSD board, you have created a huge assignment for yourselves. Every ACSD school’s fate is in your hands. Why has it come to this? Why are terms like equity, economy of scale, homogeneity even part of the conversation? We are talking about our very most precious resource, our children. It is shameful. We are also talking about the vitality and viability of our Vermont towns. We need our towns to fill, not to empty.
We live in Vermont — a state celebrated for its size, independent thinkers, beauty and diversity. It’s why many of us choose to live here. It’s why our grown children have returned to live here. Let’s celebrate this! Each of our towns is unique and has much to offer its children.
Please keep our schools open.
Mia Allen

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