There were people in old RVs at the end of dirt roads with no running water.  There were people in large houses on 40-acre lots in a gated community. Conservatives. Liberals. People of differing ethnicities and color. The small community of Vail that my family joined thirty years ago was diversity rich. Explosive growth occurred. New neighborhoods sprang up filled with a wide variety of people from all over the country. Diversity deepened further.  About the only thing everyone in Vail had in common was the desire to live in a good place.

That desire was best expressed through and within the school system. The focus became “a community effort.” Instead of giving priority attention to the many and deep differences, leaders in Vail worked hard to find common ground.  The key question was: “How can we figure out a way to work together?” It was answered well. Schools and community thrived.

Toward the end of this past school year, various issues caused many people to ask a different kind of question: “Whose side are you on?”  Our teachers, staff, school board, and community have built a school district marked by stability, high academic performance, and a focus on community. It wasn’t an accident. The success is the result of people intentionally doing the hard work of getting along … joining together in a “community effort” to give children and young people in Vail an education experience that is among the very best.

Disagreements and differences of opinion are absolutely okay. They are a normal part of life. But if they become our focus, we pull against each other. A new school year is a natural time to renew hopes and dreams — a great opportunity to hit the “reset button.” The challenges before us are difficult and many. Opportunities are equally great. Let’s return our focus to the things that unite us and make this new school year one of realized hopes and dreams.

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