Our View: Beyond the cap and gown | CraigDailyPress.com

Our View: Beyond the cap and gown

Moffat County High School’s commencement exercise is Saturday.

It’s time to celebrate another crop of graduates. Each senior who crosses the stage to receive a diploma should feel a sense of accomplishment, and we extend our congratulations to the graduates and their families on reaching an important milestone.

But we also want to acknowledge the good work of the school district in preparing students for life after high school. Recently, we profiled several members of the class of 2005 in a series of stories about the different paths they plan to take after graduation.

We called it “Beyond the cap and gown,” and our purpose was simply to show the diversity of interests and aspirations among graduates in a small town.

But we learned something important along the way. The quality of a person’s education depends largely on how much he or she puts into it. Moffat County schools may not have the best standardized scores in the state, but the district provides plenty of opportunities for students who are willing to work hard to get ahead.

Many members of Saturday’s graduating class will go to college. Some already have earned enough credits for an associate degree though a dual-enrollment partnership between the high school and Colorado Northwestern Community College. Others will join the military to become eligible for college tuition money after their service. Still others are ready to start drawing a paycheck after proving themselves as hard workers in part-time occupations.

We were particularly impressed with Eric Zimmerman’s story. Still in high school, he’s holding down a job and supporting himself. He already has earned credentials to be a certified nurse assistant and works at Sand Rock Ridge Care and Rehab. Most days he works there until midnight then comes home and does homework until 3 a.m.

If every student had that kind of drive and ambition, perhaps the school district wouldn’t hear so much criticism about the quality of its instruction. Recently, the Craig City Council indicated it wanted to meet with school district officials to see what kind of support it could offer to bolster the district’s goals. Specifically, Councilor Tom Gilchrist wants to establish the joint goal of putting Moffat County education in the top 25 percent nationwide in every category that can be measured.

We think it’s laudable that the council wants to help. But school administrators are keenly aware of the district’s shortcomings. They get three different accountability reports every year that show where they need to improve. Officials are trying to figure out ways to do more with shrinking revenues. Still, the district was able to provide salary increases for teachers this year, which administrators recognize is key in meeting its education goals.

According to Super–intendent Pete Bergmann, the school district will be able to maintain a zero-growth budget and still give salary increases because of some cost savings in other areas. Several teachers at the high end of the salary scale are retiring, and not all those positions are being filled because of declining enrollment. The district also will save money on health insurance.

On this graduation weekend, we offer our warmest wishes to the class of 2005, and we think the Moffat County School District should be proud of what it has been able to accomplish under some tough financial circumstances.

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