Merrily Singing My Way To The Voting Booth -- Won't You Join Me?

Since the beginning of time (at least time measured in Crystal years), musicals have been my passion and favorite means of escapism.  They still remain my greatest birthday-shooting-star-blowing-dandelions-in-the-breeze wish that my daily life would magically involve synchronized dancing and harmonized singing.  I dream of singing my way to school pick-up each day, dressed in a big, fluffy gown and greeting the children at dismissal all singing about how delighted they are by my arrival.  And then, we would all dance our way back to my house, twirling parasols and canes in a colorful parade of joy.
 
My favorite movie remains Disney's Mary Poppins.  Sure, I have toyed with other movies as temporary favorites.  I have tried their names on my tongue when I am asked this question, but it never feels quite right to say anything other than Mary Poppins.  Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke displayed incredible chemistry in their acting, singing and dancing; however, it is the character of Winifred Banks played by the marvelous Glynis Johns who captured my young imagination.  Her passionate, wide-eyed determination to fight by whatever means necessary for the women's right to vote captured my interest.
 
As a young child, I had no idea what Mrs. Banks was singing about as she burst into the house startling poor Katie Nanna and the maid.  I merely responded to her enthusiasm and a great song that included marching around the house.  The only words I knew were:  "Our daughters' daughters will adore us, And they'll sing in grateful chorus:  'Well done, Sister Suffragette!'"

My subsequent history teachers thankfully framed that song within the much larger historical context.  Our sisters in Britain (the setting for Mary Poppins) had much cause to celebrate when the 1918 Representation of the People Act was passed by Parliament in England.  Our American sisters, however, had to wait another two years until the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed that "the right of citizens to vote shall not be denied because of sex", was finally ratified in August 1920.

As a student, I was shocked to learn that the 15th Amendment, passed in 1870 which prohibited the government from denying citizens the right to vote based on a citizen's "race, color or previous condition of servitude" was effectively delayed by governmental idiots in the South and elsewhere, who decided to impose other means of stripping African Americans and other citizens of color that right to vote.  In fact, it wasn't until the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that African Americans and all people of other races truly had equal rights and used those rights, such as voting.

I remember my astonishment in school when teachers would explain about the societal injustices served to these groups of people.  At least a decade before I was of legal age to register to vote, I had decided that I would do my duty to those who so valiantly fought for that right:  I vowed to vote with pride as a grateful tribute to them.

Tomorrow is a very important election day for a lot of communities.  Sure, this election isn't as titillating as a national election.  I haven't been bombarded with phone calls, ads and strangers knocking on my door.  However, it is these local elections that actually impact our daily lives in a very tangible way.  These elections determine the quality of our day-to-day lives.  These officials decide which specific government projects get funds, how our cities and schools are run and the tax dollars are spent, how new sources of revenue will be generated, among many, many other things.   And it is in these smaller, local elections that every vote truly does count.  Referendums live or die and officials are elected with only a handful of votes and sometimes just one vote; yet, in our last local election two years ago, only 8% of registered voters actually voted!!

What exactly is at stake this election day?  Well, nine candidates for school board are running for three positions on the Oswego 308 Board of Education.  My school district, Oswego 308, has experienced exponential growth in the last decade.  Even though the development has dramatically slowed, the district continues to grow at an incredible rate!  In fact, this year Oswego 308 will graduate 818 seniors, while the past four years the district has averaged 1420 new Kindergartners each year.  (This number does not include the number of students who continue to move into our district.  Sure, construction has slowed, but it certainly has not stopped.)

And much to my amazement, the schools don't even have to wait until those Kindergartners are in high school to benefit from a larger group of students:  In the next couple of years, we will experience grade levels of 1200 to 1400 students reaching into our High Schools and Junior High Schools.

During this growth, it has been exciting to tour new subdivisions and freshly built schools, school additions and renovations.  We moved into our new house in a new subdivision and watched our school, Homestead Elementary, being built.  Initially, I was hesitant to send my children to school.  I spent many sleepless nights preparing myself to send my daughter to a building of strangers and trust that they would take care of her.

As soon as Homestead's doors opened, I started dropping in to visit the office, meet the principal and volunteer in two fifth grade classrooms -- and my daughter didn't even attend that first year!  And I was amazed by the caliber of individuals working in the school.  The dedicated administration, friendly secretaries, helpful staff, amazing teachers and incredible aides welcomed not only the students, but they invited the entire community to participate.  If the magic of Homestead Elementary is Oswego 308's future, then the inevitable community growing pains are well worth it!

As for those growing pains, well, I've worn out several pairs of athletic shoes pulling my wagon full of children door-to-door soliciting votes for three referendums (two building and one education rate).  I started to worry that my neighbors would stop answering their doors when I came knocking with my clipboard and pamphlets.  Thankfully, not only did the neighbors open their doors, but they voted and passed those referendums.  And in the beginning, it was good.

But, now, economic times have changed.  Who wants to spend money these last couple of years?  Why not stay home, start a fire in the fireplace, rent a movie from redbox, snuggle up with your spouse and nine months later...  Apparently the babies never quite got that memo about an economic downturn. Joking aside, many, many couples and families built these new houses in subdivisions and happily started to fill them.

I have the extreme pleasure of serving on the Oswego Parent Advisory Council (OPAC) as a representative for Homestead Elementary.  OPAC's mission is to establish two-way communication between the district and its parents.  I have listened dutifully to all of the options for growth, explored and discussed them at length with fellow OPAC members, neighbors and community members.  Only one option is clear for me:  We need to build our third high school, and it needs to be built this year!  So, if you are a resident of Oswego 308, please consider voting for incumbents Andrea Schweda and John Graff as well as candidate Luis Perez. 

If you disagree with my opinion, well, that is the beauty of voting, isn't it?  You, too, can show up to the polls and cast your vote. 

It is not too late for registered voters this year.  If your community has an election tomorrow, I implore you to vote.  Take those few minutes out of your day and exercise this incredible right that generations of our brothers and sisters had to fight to win.  Let us not take this right of American citizenship for granted.  It truly is a gift for your community and especially your children.

So tomorrow, Tuesday, April 5, the polls will be open 6am - 7pm, and I will be merrily singing on my walk to the polls, "Cast off the shackles of yesterday!  Shoulder to Shoulder into the fray!  Our daughters' daughters will adore us, And they'll sing in grateful chorus, 'Well done, Sister Suffragette!'"

All opinions expressed in this posting are my own personal opinions.  I do not speak on behalf of the Oswego Parent Advisory Council (OPAC) as OPAC remains a neutral entity providing information to district residents and parents, nor is it the opinion of anyone else affiliated with Homestead Elementary, Oswego District 308, anyone who has ever visited an Oswego 308 school, anyone who has ever played at the Homestead Elementary playground, etc.  I, also, do not speak for this blog or others contributing to this blog.  It's all me, folks!

If you are a registered voter in the Oswego 308 school district, I encourage you to visit the district webpage, www.oswego308.org, for additional accurate district information and links to information about all of the nine candidates running for the school board.

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  • Very inspiring post Crystal! It's so important to understand what is going on in our schools and towns, and to remember that our votes can make a difference!

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