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Letter: We have some great kids in Perham

Congratulations to the Perham Cross Country team on the wondrous accomplishment of winning a state championship. What a testimonial this feat is to you, your school, coaches, and parents. It says so much about extraordinary grit, perseverance, courage and heart. The same can be said regarding so many of the terrific academic and extra-curricular successes on the part of Perham students, such as the many championships in gymnastics, another grueling activity that takes so much hard, hard work and commitment to excellence. Since I spent 36 years in classrooms with young people, I was very disappointed in the outcome of the recent school referendum. I've been retired for 10 years now and live on Big Pine Lake. One could say I have no personal stake in the school or its kids, and it seems every year my property taxes go up. I suppose one could also say, if so inclined, I have no personal stake in the roads, bridges, police departments, parks, fire departments, etc. of the area and then exclaim that I've done my share and let someone else shoulder the burdens related to a better future for those who come after me. Then I look inside myself and ask: "Who would that someone else be?" I've already said in another letter that I respect the results of the election and I do. It's everyone's right to vote the way he or she sees fit. I'm going to, though, make a couple other points. I do not respect the shield of anonymity that some people use to hide behind regarding their beliefs and values on an issue that will so profoundly affect a community or, for that matter, nation. If a person cannot hold up his head and say what he or she believes to be the right thing to do, then I have strong suspicions about whether or not he actually believes what he will not openly defend. Next, I would suggest, (It's only a suggestion.) that all those people who did put a face on their convictions in the Focus ask your political representatives if Minnesota schools districts such as Perham can go on and on asking for referendums to raise property taxes. Ask if there is not a direct conflict in the current method of school financing with the part of the state's Constitution that says all students in the state will be given an equitable opportunity for an excellent education. Currently, the financing seems predicated upon the absurd misperception that all communities have equitable real estate values, that a small rural community has the same real estate assets as say, for instance, an Edina or Eden Prairie. Lastly, I would like to thank the young lady whose letter in the last Focus made me understand that the same outstanding qualities that produced a Cross Country championship and so many gymnastic championships pervade the entire Perham school system: no whining, no crying over spilled milk, just the very mature determination not to let setbacks pull you down. On the other hand, I hope enough of us out here in our own little worlds do not take this as an excuse for letting you down over and over again. As I realized over so many years of teaching, we have much to learn from our students.

Greg Van Hee