Once again, the Monett R-1 Board of Education has offered a terrific example.
The possibility of gaining a performing arts center for Monett High School in the process of creating a storm shelter makes terrific sense. Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann said an auditorium is the one thing MHS is missing. The chance to reach both goals by adding local money to a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant presented an irresistible opportunity.
It's been 40 years since Monett High School has had a real auditorium, since Monett's second high school was torn down. The auditorium in the replacement building, in what is now the middle school, is no better in providing dressing rooms and stagecraft than the bare bones offerings at Monett City Hall with its 83-year-old facility. The current high school has a stage, a far cry from an auditorium.
A real auditorium, using modern technology for projections, can open big doors for education. Students can experience and participate in the performing arts like never before. It will be a great addition to the school.
Not only that, but the school board bid on the city's gymnastics center. With the building's proximity to the high school, Jungmann called the possibility for programming "exciting," if a deal could be worked out. Talks are continuing.
Bringing the gymnastics building back into an active role in the community sure beats the alternative of selling off the equipment and finding a new use for the shell of a building remaining. Kudos to the board for seeing possibilities and acting on them. Few school boards would have bothered, confining their vision of education to a classroom setting.
It's easy to be proud of doing too little. Real progress comes from finding a way to do something more, even the unexpected.
Progress comes from a clearer vision. Other districts have had a chance to rehab old buildings and chosen not to, while Monett did it spectacularly. The One to the World laptop computer initiative is amazing as much for its daring, especially for a small district, as for its innovative nature.
Monett's leadership in education comes from more than having a bigger financial base. It comes from making choices. A performing arts center and the city's gymnastics center are only the latest examples, but two that deserve praise, examples of bigger and better things to come.