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By Jesse Utz 

Change already being felt

Jess Shut Up


The first week of school is in the books and the positive atmosphere is already showing itself. Remember when we all said we wanted to see some change in Raider Country? Well, here it comes and it feels good.

Volleyball, football and cross country have all completed their first matchups and all are feeling really good about where things are at. Kasey Rey-Garvin saw a squad of girls that just would not quit against Liberty Bell. Teamwork was obvious and some tenacious hitting, not to mention some outstanding serving. These girls will be hard to beat if they keep improving. I suggest you come out and support these netters in the gym. I, for one, am smelling a deep run for VB.

If you made the trip to Tonasket Friday night to watch some high school football, you got a treat. It was more than that really, it was like watching the old Raider football team slip away and a brand new team showed up right before your eyes. If I could pick one word to describe the transformation, it would be heart. The whole team showed that they would not roll over. Down 35-14 at half, the defense came out in the second and the change was there. Tonasket would not score again, or even get close for that matter. Raiders pulled out the win and, in turn, changed a culture. This is going to be a very special year for new coach Geary Oliver and his all-star coaching staff filled with former Raider stars and past coaches and new blood. The best part, the players are still learning the offense and will only get better. They are fun to watch, and when was the last time the Raider fans stood on their feet for the entire last five minutes of a football game, cheering? Both players and coaches said it was loud on their side of the field. It definitely motivated them to finish strong. This Friday is a home game; you had better come out and see the new uniforms and a new atmosphere on the Raider gridiron.

Cross Country also finished better than Coach Gary Darnold anticipated, with all of the boys finishing within a little over three minutes of each other. Girls ran very well also, with Lauren Moore leading the way. This pack-oriented team will only get better too.

If you were in the school during this week, you would have seen a change as well. No demerits all week. That did not happen at all last year, and I am talking from kindergarteners to seniors, not one kid received any discipline other than a warning. That is huge, people. More impressive than that is that the total attitude from kids to staff is overwhelmingly positive and everyone is buying in to the theme of “The Best Year Ever.” I saw older kids helping younger kids; respect and helping others was apparent across the board.

I had the pleasure of spending a good amount of time with some key figures in the school. I sat by “Tex,” the school’s new counselor, during the football game. I am impressed; this man has plenty of experience, and lofty goals as well. I believe he said he wanted a 100-percent graduation success rate for seniors this year, and he knows how to achieve it. He has done it before. By the way, he was cheering just as loud for the Raiders in the last five minutes of that game as I did.

The other person I spent time with this week was the new vice principal, Paul Turner. I will say this: we are lucky to have him here. He has a heart for our kids and wants to get to know them. He is already riding buses to get a feel ofor where the kids are coming from and to make sure their first encounter with our school every day is a good one. He was at the football game in Tonasket, as well, and when I went onto the field after the game, he was one of the first ones to reach the kids and congratulate them, with a big smile and his Raider Pride showing.

The change is here, Raider Country. We are already proving we can be a lot better than we once were and we are going to be awesome. From sports to grades to discipline to a community. The best part is that there will be plenty of opportunities for you to be involved directly with the success of these programs. The Raider Booster Club is being revived by a group of community members, a tutoring program is being created as I write this, and you can come support any sporting event, or encourage any child you know going to school. We are about to be the best school around here. Change is coming. Well, to be honest, it is already here. I’m just saying.

To wrap this up, I must say one more thing. At Faith Community Church Sunday morning, they asked all teachers, staff and students who were present to stand up. They then prayed over them all, asking for protection and guidance throughout this school year. Then they had a back-to-school tailgate party in honor of the new school year and the BEST YEAR EVER. I cannot remember when a community has ever been behind a school so much. I cannot wait to see what happens next when Coulee Country and Raider Nation join forces in a change for the better. Best Year Ever; yep, here it comes.

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