MY OPINION | Schools, businesses make stronger community

About four months ago, I presented a bold idea to my ASB (Associated Student Body) students at Cedar Heights Junior High School. I told them about how we have been just getting by for more than 10 years in regards to our sports equipment and other services that require funding; whether it be the rag-tag warm up sweats for track and field, or the volleyball net that is broken, but kept functional by creative jerry-rigging.

There is one word that kept running through my mind: Service. It’s such a simple idea yet it seems to be the hardest idea for humans to execute. I told my students our job is to serve others and in turn they will naturally serve others as well because it’s contagious when set in motion.

When that happens, others will also serve and in so changing a “me, me, me” culture into a “what can we do to help each other” culture. It’s a simple math formula. Show the community who you are, show them that you are striving to improve the community and you’ll be amazed at what a community will give back to the schools. First it takes initiative.

I divided my 40 students into groups of 2-3 and we dissected the entire town of Port Orchard, so we could focus on the small local business because of their commitment to our community. Of course I told them to try but to be prepared for businesses tell them “no thanks.” We recently held our first spaghetti dinner, auction and talent show to a rousing success, and it’s all because of small business owners in Port Orchard and beyond.

The small businesses didn’t have to donate their services. Times are tough and it seems like a small business is closing its doors every week. But here was The McCormick Woods Clubhouse giving up a $50 certificate for our silent auction. Then Hasselwood GMC offered up $200 car detail. Dr. Bock, a Cedar and South Kitsap alum, and Dr. Hutchinson upped the ante with $500 off toward Visline. Bluberry Frozen Yogurt, Olympic Fitness Club and El Sombrero did not flinch when asked if they would like to donate.

All the talk has been about floundering downtown Port Orchard, yet there was Annapolis Fitness throwing in a free one month membership on top of a one hour training session with Jonathon McHenry. Auburn Golf Club extended outside its area to donate two free rounds of golf. Dawn Morris chucked in a custom decorated cake. Lots of individuals also donated their belongings or services for our school. Ms. Burns, our food service guru at Cedar, donated her entire day to make sure spaghetti, salad, and bread was plentiful for all. And we capped it off with a night to remember with students show the audience their talents. I guarantee you one of those performers may be making Port Orchard proud on a national stage someday soon.

What does this all mean? This shows that small businesses do care about our kids. They know a stronger community makes our businesses stronger and thus creates a thriving town. This is a huge thank you to all citizens of our wonderful community that donated their time or services so that student athletes can feel more pride and confidence in their school. In the end, we raised over $1300 in one night. While I was overwhelmed with excitement, I started to think about what we can do to make things better next year.

I know our ASB students will do a better job of hitting all of the local businesses next year, because I know some of you are reading this saying, “Why didn’t I ever see a Cedar Heights student at my business?” That will change.

It comes down to this: The stronger the community, the stronger our schools and the stronger the schools, the stronger the community.

Josh Morton is a teacher at Cedar Heights Junior High School.


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