Nix negative attitudes


A common topic of conversation among some students lately in the halls has been how Iola High School is spending some of the money provided by the Safe and Supportive Schools (S3) grant. Perhaps students should educate themselves a bit more about the grant and its community-building focuses before making generalizations and criticizing.
The ultimate goal of the federal grant program has been to create supportive and safe learning environments, and thereby increase academic success, for students in high-risk schools in Kansas and 10 other states. At IHS, this grant has helped provide funding for such things as an improved security system, an alcohol awareness curriculum for health class, educational field trips that would not otherwise be possible, a variety of rewards and pizza parties celebrating exceptional grades and attendance, the bucket-filling campaign and much more.
It is imperative that students understand that IHS only has an opportunity to purchase unique and specific equipment and to expand educational and incentive programs because of this grant money. Without it, IHS wouldn’t have these things. One criticism overheard recently is short-sighted: Maybe the school could get a new chemistry lab instead of televisions, someone said. First of all, a new lab would likely be much more costly than a couple of TVs. Secondly, this does not address the communication, character education or positive school climate goals of the S3 grant. Besides, with talk lately of the potential for construction of new buildings in USD 257 at some point in the near future, updating a costly lab wouldn’t make much sense.
What’s really sad, though, is that, unfortunately, due to government cuts, the third year of funding for schools receiving the S3 grant has been cut. This will decrease opportunities, even though IHS still has some money left from what was already guaranteed and provided to us under the second-year plan we have been following.
Despite past student eye-rolling about Power2Achieve, many might be interested in knowing that the program will still exist since its curriculum was purchased during the first year of the S3 grant. Many of us fail to take a minute to appreciate the benefits these character-building lessons provide: a chance to self-evaluate and practice crucial skills that can help us reduce stress and succeed at whatever challenge we take on.
In the end, we should always consider all the details, ask questions and get answers before we jump on the bandwagon of complaining. Given the school funding cuts made in recent years, we should count our blessings. We also must realize the effects of the loss of a third year of grant funding: If we still want to continue having opportunities to pursue like those made possible by S3, we will now have to find the money somewhere else.