Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Ripton deserves to maintain its own school

We came to Vermont 36 years ago when George was appointed to serve as pastor of the United Methodist churches in Middlebury, East Middlebury and Ripton. We loved this area and the people here. We found Ripton to be a very special place, a unique community. We made many good friends in Ripton, some of whom have passed on, but many with whom we stay in touch. We were away for another appointment for 12 years until we fulfilled our goal of moving back here when we retired in 2001.
In the first years we were here the Ripton school was next door to the church. At Christmas families would gather at the Town Hall for a supper, and then everyone would go to the church for a service. All the children would come, and George would ask them to help tell the Christmas story by placing figures in the creche. It was a joyful time.
It was in the year that we left that Ripton built the school that has been in use for grades K-6 for the last 30 years. Under the threat of closure, the people of Ripton voted recently to become independent of the Addison Central School District in order to keep the school open.
We feel that now is a critical moment for the people of Ripton. We have tried to understand the situation by listening to people on both sides of the issue. If you read the Independent, you know that a host of people have written letters to plead the cause as they see it.
We would not presume to tell anyone how or for whom they should vote. But, if you have not voted yet and would like another opinion, we’d like to state our position. We believe that the people of Ripton should have the right to maintain their own school and that doing so could serve as a model for other small towns. We believe that the elementary schools are centers that draw people together in small towns. We do not believe that children suffer for lack of facilities that larger schools can provide. Rather, we think that the experience of children in a small school like Ripton’s may be the very best that they could have.
We’d call attention to the letter to the editor by Bill McKibben that is in the Feb. 18 issue of the Addison Independent. It is short and sweet and we like his conclusion. Other letters in the paper that deserve attention are especially the ones written by parents.
While we vote for the future of the Ripton school, there are also candidates for the ACSD board on the ballot. And, there have been lots of letters for each one. We thought we needed to know more than what the story in the paper tells us. So, we reached out to a trusted friend who gives a lot of her life studying education and other issues in Montpelier and in Addison County.
We reached this conclusion after talking with her: The people we will vote for are Barb Wilson, Chris Kramer, and Lindsey Hescock. Though we could vote for four people, we will not vote for any of the others. Though some are very experienced, we believe they would lead the school district in a different direction than what we advocate for in this letter.
If you have read this long message, we thank you for considering the ideas we present and for voting according to your own understanding and convictions.
Hoping for a good future …
George and Margaret Klohck
Middlebury

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