Letter to the editor: Ripton’s quest for independence could set example
“If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the State, and support of our institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little town of Ripton.” Shamelessly paraphrasing President Coolidge, these remarks could well speak to Ripton’s 163 to 107 vote on Jan. 12 to keep the town’s elementary school open by withdrawing from the Addison Central School District (ACSD). We are indeed a brave little town.
One reporter, calling the day after the vote, fired off questions about the many difficulties and hurdles in our way. The implication seemed to be that we did not quite know what we were getting into. Bravery, however, does not imply foolishness. Rather, it is facing what you recognize as a daunting situation and carrying on. We do know what lies before us. This little town has a school that has been at the heart of the community. Now it just might become a true community center. Around Addison County, and perhaps around the state, people are talking about school buildings becoming not merely a location for elementary school education but a location for providing the services and supports community members need from birth through old age.
Because many of these programs began at different times and with differing focus, they often have ended up overlapping or duplicating efforts while competing for funding and space. Our little town could be the model — or guinea pig — for putting resources and programs together into one space, a space not segregated by age. Obviously, this is not the first thing we will focus on; our first task will be having a quality educational program for the younger members of our community.
Often people refer to Vermont’s potential to serve as a model for our nation because of our small size and population. There are things we have been able to do or might be able to try in our state that are easier due to our scale. Likewise, Ripton just might be able to try out some new approaches to “support of our institutions” and possibly “replenish the general store” as an example for other Vermont communities. This brave little town just might be able to share our “spirit of liberty.”
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So much of this situation rides on money, apathy, and our resistance to change.