When I announced my retirement last November, I wrote that “with most of the year in front of us, now is not the time for me to offer my warm superintendent reflections from the past decade—I will offer these at the end of the school year.” This is my last newsletter article after a memorable decade with our schools and community. In this short space, my reflections will certainly miss more than they describe, for this I apologize.
First, “let’s give it up” for our fantastic students and staff who make our Columbia School District great. This reputation brings students and parents to our schools seeking entrance. For this I am grateful for the work and dedication of our fine administrators and wonderful staff. The ideas from you and from our staff led to the development of ideas for articles that were published in state-wide and national peer-reviewed journals, which includes a model, which we termed the Unified Instructional Core. This represents placing our fine district on the map state-wide and across our great country. Furthermore, thank you, staff and students, for the lasting memories that include science fairs, theater, sporting events and so much more. Six years ago our students and staff district-wide also branded our purple and gold Coyote mascot. These mascots now proudly fortify inside and outside of our schools, including the painted mascot that proudly surrounds our middle school piano! Catching the Coyote pride, our students created many of the mascots, like the one high on the outside wall of our middle school gym and the massive steel one that graces the front of the career and technology building.
Second, our facilities represent the primary spaces for educational instruction and extracurricular activities. Of many points of pride inside our schools, two brought the most comments. The first includes the refurbished middle school gym with the new bleachers and the beautiful gym floor sponsored by AAU. The second includes memory lane with the pictures in our high school, which includes all of the names of our graduates’ and, except for a few classes in the earliest years, their pictures starting with our first graduating class in 1928. The outside evidence of our community support ranges from the graceful maple trees purchased by donors and planted by community members to the Booster Club reader board purchased and installed largely with community hands. The support also goes to community members who helped to upgrade our softball fields, football bleachers and, most recently with the approval of the community supported bond, our fantastic elementary gym and classrooms under construction; these enhanced the landscape of our campus for decades to come. Moreover, our facilities stand as a tribute to the support from our community for our students. A huge thank you!
Last, it takes a community to raise a child and our school board represents our community well. While only one board member remains from those who hired me, all of you as current and former board members provided me with policy and broad goals to work with our administrators and staff. You then offered incredible support throughout the past decade and let our administrators and staff manage our district. For all of the lasting memories, thanks go to each of you as board members—you set the tone for the past ten years and the district’s academic, financial, and facilities are better for your leadership.
Thank you. Go Coyotes!
Dr. Lou Gates, Superintendent