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Schools open for fall

Summer is winding to an end, and for families everywhere that means one thing and one thing only — the hallways are about to open wide for the new school year. Although it might be hard for some to believe, for most of us living in the Harlem Valley, come Sept. 7, school will be back in session. The transition from lazy summer days to hectic early morning races to the bus stop will take time for everyone to adapt to, but in the final analysis teaching children (no matter what age) the importance of sticking to a schedule is not a bad thing.In fact, the lessons — from the ABCs to the life lessons about telling the truth and always putting in one’s best effort — are the very things our children learn in school that are so invaluable. What’s more is they are able to learn them in a social environment, where they are also taught the importance of getting along with others, of sharing, of being empathetic, of being considerate and of the myriad other traits that are highlighted in a group setting.Then there are the benefits of having trained professionals, from the superintendents to the administrators and teachers, to the coaches and nurses, to all of the other staff members like the secretaries and cafeteria workers, working with the best interests of the children in mind.Let’s not forget the volunteer work of those serving on the boards of education that help set policy in the best way they know how to facilitate optimal learning and growing experiences for all students. Granted, not everyone, including this paper, always agrees with those school board decisions, but those board members should still be given credit for their efforts, their time and their intentions.Then there are the parents, the family, the friends and everyone else who makes up the support network for each and every individual student. They are as instrumental in a child’s academic career as anyone working within the school system. Their encouragement, advice, motivation and love can help inspire a poor student to improve and a good student to excel. If only all students were fortunate enough to have that kind of personal support network, what a world this would be.We must also remember the students’ role. Each boy and girl, of course, plays a part in his or her own performance, and in his or her own future. No matter what’s been handed to a child, he or she must take responsibility for their actions and how they do in school: academically, behaviorally, socially and creatively. Yes, this may seem like a tall order, but ideally this is a lesson that both parents and school professionals are able to successfully teach to every student, every day — day in, day out.What does all of this amount to? Well, it boils down to this: Scholastic success is a collaborative effort. As was famously said by a very well-informed first lady, “It takes a village.” Yes, it does. And thankfully, our communities here in the Harlem Valley are comprised of numerous towns and villages. We have the ability to do this. We can encourage, inspire, motivate, challenge, support, drive and nurture our young students to succeed in a healthy and wonderful way, never forgetting that above all else they must remain kind and humane. Let’s make that a top priority as the 2011-12 academic year kicks off — what better goal could there be?

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