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By Jesse Utz 

"The Best Year Ever"

Jess Shut Up

 


Those were the words spoken by the two leaders of Lake Roosevelt School, where I work, as they prepared their staff for the upcoming year. That is the plan for Raider Nation going into the 2015-16 school year. Can it be done? Yes, but there must be a buy-in. From whom? All of us, and there is a lot to be excited for too.

The leaders Liberty and Lakin are pumping up staff and students with their positive message. Change is coming, I can feel it. Get ready, the Raiders are about to change their culture, and in turn change their community. Let me give you a peek of what I see coming down the waterway of Lake Roosevelt.

First off, we have new coaches in a lot of different sports. Team Oliver is cranking up the football team and instilling not just how to be good athletes, but how to be winners in life. Geary Oliver and Brad Oliver are trying to instill a new attitude for the gridiron kids, and we can already see changes for that team. Oh, did I mention that Geary and Brad are Raider alumni? Kasey Rey Garvin is back in control of the volleyball program and is off to a fast start with a very large turnout. Kasey is also an alumna (’92 rocks). Gary Darnold will continue his winning ways with Cross Country and will have his kids running circles all over Raider Country. I am very excited for our new boys’ basketball coach, too. He comes from a culture of winning and success at many levels and is looking to build a long-term program built on turning boys into men. Yes, I see a culture changing.

Nancy Kuiper has returned and is in charge of the after-school program. She is focusing on loving kids where they are at, and their summer program was a huge success. Kuiper, also an alumna with a gigantic heart for kids in our area, has put together a staff of like-minded people who are ready to build those relationships and cultivate them while teaching life lessons at the same time. I can’t wait to see what happens during the school year.

There is also a challenge out there to stop the “LR” negativity. We need to be the change. We all understand the past and how that reflects in a community, but as we look to the future we must strive for lofty goals. That goal is that we want LR, in its new building and with numerous new staff members, to be the place to go to school, to be the desired location to send your kids, to be the benchmark for all other schools. So kids will say, “Yes, I did go to school at LRHS, and it was an awesome experience.”

If any of you are on Facebook, you might have seen a challenge going around. Post a picture of our awesome new statue as your profile picture till school starts. This is a challenge for all current and past Raiders and all Tigers and Beavers, who by default are all honorary Raiders. It is also for all current and past staff members. Show your pride, and at the same time try to change this culture. Be proud of the Raiders. Wear your gear with pride.

One other change I would like to see is total community support. What do I mean? Well, support the Raiders like we never have before. I would like to see our towns shut down during every sporting event and fill the bleachers of Greene Field, or pack the stands of Gailord Nelson Gym. Come cheer on our Raiders with a refreshed enthusiasm, and catch Raider Fever. Winning or losing, cheer hard and support the athletes harder.

It is not all about athletics, either. Big surprise. We want to excel in the classroom, too. We want to see the discipline room empty, we want to see more study groups popping up, we want to see more tutors come forward. We can be like the schools portrayed in “Freedom Writers,” “Lean On Me,” and “Coach Carter.” We can change. We can be a school that changes a community that changes the world. Can is a poor word sometimes. How about we “will” be a school that changes the world.

The BEST YEAR EVER! Look out! Here come the Raiders.

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