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Letter to the Editor

Writer seeks to unite Fox Creek, Strom Thurmond students, parents and supporters

web posted January 2, 2009
Dear Editor,
I am not an “authorized” spokesman for FCHS but I would like to respond to many suspicious and sarcastic comments posted on your site.  To begin with, FCHS is a school of teens (children), and as such, we adults should be protecting them - not fostering hostility.  Since it is human nature to attack something you don’t trust, and to mistrust something you don’t understand, let’s examine our situation to eliminate suspicions and resentments, if only for our youth.

FCHS does not think we are better than STHS.  I am a teacher at my church and I know and love many students who attend STHS, I also know and love many students who attend FCHS, which happens to be my school of choice (more on that below).  Like all schools, FCHS encourages a spirit of pride in oneself and one’s school, not unlike STHS, and that does not make us adversaries, it makes us responsible citizens.  Although it does promote a sense of rivalry, rivalry can be a tremendous motivation for progress, a little competition is a good thing.

School of choice – it’s a matter of geography really, “. . . . location, location, location”.  Consider the freshman and sophomores years of my children before they were old enough to drive, (or beyond those years for the parent who cannot provide a vehicle for their teen).  Then consider all the doctor appointments: general physician, dentist, orthodontist, allergist, dermatologist, etc.  For me, consider that I work in Georgia, my insurance is Georgia based and all our approved providers are in Georgia. 

So if my kids attended STHS, my travel time there would be 40 minutes, 50 back to a physician, time needed in the physician’s office (wait and exam), 50 back to STHS and 40 back to work.  At the conclusion, we’ve either lost the school day or work day or both.  Even a teacher conference would pose a major proposition for anyone working across the river, 40 minutes versus 10 minutes to or from FCHS.

The bottom line is:  Residents in this area of the county need a school in closer proximity, period.  We pay the taxes that pay for our children too so no one needs to feel their money is being taken from them - this is a cynical notion that I hope is overcome in 2009.  Does it take money from STHS?  Only for the student not going to STHS and to that degree, STHS is relieved of any cost burden for that student so the one offsets the other synergistically, the two factors work together.

Do we have out of county students at FCHS?  Sure but that is not abnormal – how many out of county students attend North Augusta?  If STHS does not have any, that would be due to their inconvenient location which is the thrust behind the organization of FCHS, the NEED for a conveniently located high school.  Out of county students have to pay to attend FCHS, and pay they do.  Does EC pay for them? 

I’m sure those households wish they DID but they do not.  Are we unaffected by budget cuts?  Anyone who thinks we are not is ignoring the truth (an unfortunate position driven by an unfortunate political agenda).  I would encourage everyone to attend board meetings which are open to the public.  They should attend those of STHS, the ECBOE as well as FCHS.  Actively seek the facts rather than propagate innuendo and superstition; the result will bring peace of mind and a greater sense of unity.

In fact, I wish folks would visit FCHS every legitimate chance they get, our School Improvement Council meetings are open to the public and we welcome the community.  If you would take the time, you would understand that we are not the enemy, we are your neighbors, your constituents, your tax base, your coworkers, in some cases we are your teachers, and in many cases we are your relatives. 

We are a public school striving to provide a challenging and stimulating environment for our students; our students like your students are just teens struggling for an identity and to succeed, just like all other teens.  Our courses are accredited just like yours, our students graduate and many go on to higher education or gratifying careers, just like yours. 

We have successfully met the AYP and other challenges, we are a Palmetto Gold School (more info at: http://www.foxcreekhs.org/about_fchs.htm).   Merely out of necessity, we are growing a school that accommodates location and busy schedules.  If we are successful, you should be happy for us; if we are not, you should be sad for us.  But in no event should you be oppositional to us, nor us to you.  Rather, we should be working together for the benefit of our youth and our community. 

The influence this animosity has played in encouraging vandalism for the child who acts out his or his parent’s aggressions is shameful.  These acts will result in fines and restitution not to mention possible jail time for the ones responsible, (who I suspect are not from within as indicated by areas hit or not hit as the case may be).  What impression do you suppose all this is projecting to the general public?  All this negativity, aside from denying our youth a sense of well being, is counterproductive to county growth.  The affect it has in discouraging future business or new homeownership is a factor that, while perhaps incalculable, is nevertheless a destructive reality.  We all suffer if this narrow-mindedness continues. 

The New Year is an opportunity for us to adopt a new outlook.   I hope it is one of unity and not more distrust or prejudice.  Let’s join forces, there’s strength in numbers and wisdom in the counsel of many; it is for the sake of our community, our children and tomorrow’s leaders.

In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, but never in want. ~ Traditional Irish toast.
God bless you all in 2009

Susie Stewart
Proud FCHS Parent


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