I’ve written about Emerson High School before; it’s an alternative education school at NW 7 and Walker where kids with some of the biggest challenges (teen pregnancy, not fitting in) are trying to overcome great odds and obtain a high school diploma.
I was first drawn to the plight of this school when I learned it was possible that those horrible (and they are horrible) run-down metal trailers outside the historic building could be left standing and in use as classrooms AFTER it undergoes its MAPS for Kids renovation.
That threat, last I heard, went away, but the underlying issue remains: there are elements of our community who seem to think these kids are least deserving of our help and attention.
Think about that – kids who have made bad choices, are paying the consequences, and yet are still trying to get a diploma and live productive lives. Who amongst us didn’t do something stupid when we were young? Who amongst us didn’t risk getting into serious trouble when our brains weren’t finished cooking yet?
Yet this logic prevails. I even encountered one person, an individual in a pretty prominent position in our downtown community, who suggested coming to the aid of these kids, putting Emerson out front and center, wouldn’t fit “Midwest values.”
I bit my tongue at least a dozen times when he said it. Readers, you’ve been very complimentary of me in recent days, with more than one of you commenting how “diplomatic” I tend to be in my writing. But let’s be honest for just a moment. There are times when I want to scream out IDIOT! in response to outright bigotry and ignorance. Want to guess why I had to bite my tongue a dozen times?
I wanted to say so much to this individual. Guess what pal? We’re not in the Midwest – we’re in the lower Plains. And to be precise, we’re Oklahoma. It’s a totally different deal here all together. We’re not the wealthiest folks in the country, but look at any charitable giving list and you’ll find Oklahomans are by far the most generous. We come to each others’ aid, regardless of age, income, class or race. It’s the Oklahoma Standard. And that means yeah, we’re going to come to the aid of a struggling pregnant 16-year-old high school student because she’s trying to make something better of herself – and create a better future for their child. Tomorrow night you can show this person they’re wrong by attending what will be a series of meetings related to the MAPS for Kids overhaul of Emerson. Learn for yourself what obvious needs are not be addressed – and why.
Here’s the info:
Emerson Alternative School to host MAPS for Kids community meeting
Emerson Alternative School will host the third of four MAPS for Kids community meetings at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26. The meeting will take place in the school’s cafeteria, 715 North Walker Avenue.
During the meeting, parents, teachers, students, neighbors, community members and school administrators can provide input and share their ideas for the school’s upcoming renovations.
The school, which was established in 1894, will receive over $3.4 million in facility improvements from MAPS for Kids funds.
The two remaining community meetings held for Emerson Alternative School will cover:
Meeting 3 – preliminary design presentations
Meeting 4 – final design presentation
Funding for the nearly $700 million MAPS for Kids program comes from two voter-approved sources: a seven-year penny sales tax which ended on Dec. 31, 2008 and an Oklahoma City Public Schools bond issue. Once completed, every student in the Oklahoma City Public Schools district will attend a new or fully renovated school.