Several years ago I was hunting audads in Texas along the Rio Grande River. It was a rugged desert area but it was a beautiful place. We camped in an extremely isolated area where there were no houses or people for miles on our side of the river. Each day my guide and I climbed one of the cliffs overlooking the river where we had glasses of aoudads. There was a small town across the river that we could see from our vantage point. During the first two days we saw lights in the small town across the river in Mexico in the evening. However, there was no light in the city on the third evening. I asked my guide about the lack of lights.
He was convinced that the army, or some of the local drug dealers, had requisitioned the town and used it as a place to transport drugs down the river. I thought he was dramatizing the situation, but my level of concern increased dramatically when he told me what we needed to do to stay safe. He told me that we should lie face down on the ground, place our guns away from our hands, and be silent if anyone approaches us. He further explained that the drug dealers would do nothing to an American on this side of the river because it created too much trouble for the DEA and the US government. A simple look on his graying face told me he was serious because there was real fear in his eyes. We moved the camps to another location the next morning and never met another person. He explained to me in the camp that often the military or drug traffickers would take over an entire town and push the residents back for days on end. The men, women and children of this town would have to fend for themselves and find shelter and food while their homes were used to smuggle drugs across the border. These individuals had no protection from the police, the military or the government as all of these entities were heavily involved in drug trafficking.
This past experience in Texas was reinforced last week when I helped lead a student leadership program that took place at Morristown Utility Systems. Jody Wigington led the program and spoke about the important attributes great leaders should have in order to be successful. It was a great presentation and it provided the students with relevant insight into the important values that should guide all leaders. During the session, he asked the students to raise their hands if they had had breakfast and lunch today. Everyone in the room raised their hands. MUS provided the students with pizza, so he asked them if everyone had enough to eat for dinner. Again, everyone raised their hands. He asked them if they could go up the stairs, if they could drive to the program, and if they had a warm coat to put on when it was cold. All the students raised their hands. He concluded by reinforcing the fact that a significant portion of the world’s population does not even have access to these basic luxuries.
Without a doubt, there are a number of issues that we could focus on that are negative. However, most of us have better lives on the worst day than most people in the world would have on the best day. Perhaps it would be important for us to take a few minutes to focus on what we have instead of what we don’t have. Life can be extremely difficult these days, and I don’t know if we take the time to think about the good things in our life. Without a doubt, some in our community struggle with some of the basic necessities of life, but most of us are extremely lucky. Next week is Thanksgiving week, and it can be a great time to take a few minutes to reflect on all the blessings we have. It might also be a good time to think about the good of this world instead of focusing on all that is wrong.
Review the following information and contact us if you have any questions or concerns. Also, don’t forget to email Ms. Webb ([email protected]) if you have any other questions that you would like us to cover in future articles.
1. Schools will be closed for the entire Thanksgiving week from November 22-26.
2. Our COVID numbers continue to remain relatively low. By the end of this week, we had a total of seven active cases in the district. This involved six students and one staff member.
3. Last week, we wrote about the Executive Order that everyone working in companies (OSHA-regulated) must be fully immunized by January 4, 2022. The Fifth Circuit Court issued an injunction against the execution of this mandate. We are not governed by the Fifth Circuit, but it appears that OSHA has suspended the execution of the warrant until the final outcome of the pending litigation. Many believe this dispute will be referred to the Supreme Court for a final resolution. This is a very complicated legal issue, and there are a number of facets that are unclear at this time. However, it is clear that OSHA has temporarily suspended execution of the warrant. This means that the school district is not moving forward with any provision of the presidential decree until a final legal resolution is reached.
4. The high school graduation ceremony will take place on May 20 at the WSCC exhibition. West High will start at 4 p.m. and East High will follow at 8 p.m. At this point, we are planning a more normal ceremony this year.
Several years ago, I was watching a morning TV news. The main focus of the show centered on the constant fighting in the Middle East. Although this is not the main story, I saw a man in the background who walked out of his shop and closed the door for the day. There was an armored tank parked across the street. One of the soldiers beside the tank fired a missile launcher in the shoulder at the enemy. There was also chatter from a machine gun from the tank in the same direction.
What impressed me the most was that the man never flinched at the shots and he didn’t look up from his task. This type of violence was so familiar to him that machine gun fire and missile launcher fire directly across the street had no impact on him. The next few shots in the news program actually showed several deaths in the streets, a triage medical station attempting to treat the multiple victims, the lack of food, shelter and proper clothing for the citizens of this small town. . Few of us have ever experienced this degree of struggle or adversity. We all struggle with different things, but we also have so much to be thankful for this holiday season. We hope you can enjoy a restful and peaceful Thanksgiving break with your family and friends. Thank you for your attention to this article and remember that school matters!
-Dr. Jeff Perry is the Superintendent of Schools for Hamblen County.