At nearly every back-to-school night from Park City to North and South Summit, school districts are asking parents and community members to volunteer. The invitation comes with a lot of perks, albeit intangible ones.
In many ways schools are the heart of a community, from the Friday-night football games where parents and kids from diverse backgrounds mingle at the hot dog concession stand, to patriotic assemblies and bake sales. Our schools unite us.
They can also exasperate us. When it comes to our children, nothing makes the blood boil faster than a wrong-headed policy, a lapse in safety, a perceived slight or administrative indifference.
The best antidote is to be involved. That also goes for residents who don't have children in the schools. After all, more than half of every homeowner's tax bill goes to the local school district.
There are lots of ways to contribute there are site councils, parent-teacher organizations and fundraising groups (the Park City Education Foundation, for instance). Or, for those who aren't necessarily comfortable in the classroom or monitoring the playground, there are building, technology and finance committees where people with specific expertise can really make a difference by offering professional advice to district administrators.
There are also plenty of ways to reach out to students by offering internships, homework help or career mentoring.
And for policy wonks, school board meetings are open to the public. The discussions can be mundane but can also cut to the core of community values including sex education, school safety, censorship, bullying, privacy issues and many other emotionally-charged topics.
Fortunately, school spirit is strong in Park City and in the North and South Summit School Districts. But being a devout Miner, Brave or Wildcat involves more than just donning the school colors. It requires putting in some time in the trenches (or locker rooms, as the case may be).
Now that the school year is underway, take a minute to check out the local districts' websites and find your niche. In doing so you will likely learn a lot more about your community than you would in any other way.
For more information keep an eye on The Park Record Education section. You may also want to log on to:
North Summit School District: http://www.nsummit.org/
Park City School District: http://www.pcschools.us/
South Summit School District: http://www.ssummit.k12.ut.us/