Lima City Schools has designated this week as one to lift up and showcase public education and what the district has to offer. The week provides the mechanism for us to remember and appreciate the work of our area’s dedicated teachers and the success stories of our students.
As a pastor, there are families in our congregation who homeschool their children and others who send their children to private schools. The vast majority of our parishioners send their children to one of the many public school systems in our area. Due to the demands in my early career, my wife and I utilized each of these methods at one time or another in educating our children. Each has merit. Many in my profession, however, are wary and critical of public education. I have never personally seen the cause for this suspicion
I have had the privilege of working closely with several of the area superintendents of schools and building principals. I have found in our public education officials a sense of calling that transcends their formal job descriptions. I was amazed at the compassion and dedication of the Elida Schools’ administration and faculty during the fall when tragedy struck not once, but three times in quick succession. I have learned to appreciate the culture of compassion and inclusion I have seen in that school system. Like many I was deeply moved by Elida’s production of Hairspray this month. I am thankful that people like Randy and Rhonda Bargerstock, who directed the musical, have a hand in molding the next generation.
I am moved that the superintendent of the Columbus Grove schools, Nick Verhoff, makes time in his busy schedule to mentor an elementary student for an hour each week. I have watched closely as coaches like Terry Schnipke, of Columbus Grove, John Zerbe, of Spencerville, Chris Sommers, of Delphos Jefferson, and Andre Griffin, of Lima Senior, invest in their athletes far beyond the track or ball field.
When we moved to town four years ago, we chose to live in Lima and be part of the Lima City Schools. Our son spent the second half of his junior year and his senior year at Lima Senior. We couldn’t have been happier with the education he received and the overall experience he had there. Since his graduation, I have continued to spend time at Lima Senior as a volunteer and have become somewhat of a self-appointed ambassador of the Lima City Schools.
I have taken several people on tours of Lima Senior High School. Each time, my guests have been amazed not only by what they have seen, but also by how far their stereotypical notions were from reality. For instance, Lima Senior is the only high school in the state of Ohio that enters the national Moonbuggy Challenge competition held each year in Alabama. Sponsored by NASA, high school and college students from across the nation design, build and drive collapsible human powered rovers over a simulated lunar terrain. These vehicles are pieces of technological wonder. They are designed and built by students under the supervision of the faculty.
In another competition, Lima Senior brought home several first-place awards in Columbus two weeks ago in the DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) marketing, management and entrepreneurship competition. Lima Senior will send 13 students to the national competition in Anaheim, California. There were more that 4,000 Ohio students involved in this competition.
I hope you will take the time to see some of this for yourself. Thursday, from 4 to 6 p.m., Lima Senior High School is hosting an open house to showcase all that the district offers. Even though the open house is at the high school, each of the buildings and programs in the school system will be represented. There will be student projects and artwork on display and student performances throughout the evening. I want to encourage my friends and neighbors to see for themselves the work that our public educators are doing. I think you’ll be impressed. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll let you ride the Moonbuggy.
Dr. Doug Boquist is the lead pastor at Lima Community Church, 2950 N. Cole St. Contact him at 419-223-9646