Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eating Crow and Hometown Pride

Susan getting her awards next to
the most dapper kid at school today.
I don't know him but I sure love his style.
And his smile. Precious!
Today was Susan's 1st Grade Awards Program at school and I am still having a hard time believing that "School's Out for Summer". Actually, school's not officially out until Thursday but I can't wait until then to write this post and I don't want to write this post without mentioning that song.  Let's just not get too caught up in the details, OK?  

As many of you know, Susan started a new school this year.  It was new for her, anyway.  She was at a private school last year but we just never really felt like that was where we were supposed to be so after a lot of thought, prayer, and a great visit with Mrs. Laura Hartley - the Principal of her new school - we decided to make the move to Southview Primary School in the Opelika City Schools System.*  

For those of you who live in/around Auburn-Opelika, you've no doubt heard people say they choose to live in Auburn for the schools.  I get that.  Auburn City Schools (ACS) are among the best in the state of Alabama and I could never fault a parent for wanting the best for their child.  What I don't get, however, is the connotation that Opelika City Schools (as a whole) are sub-par. On paper do they we score as well as Auburn?  Maybe not.  I've never really studied the systems' documented performance and I'm not claiming that their stats/scores/whatever are equal.  I'm only suggesting that just because one school system is awesome doesn't mean that the neighboring system is not awesome.  Not in this case, anyway. Nope. Not for a second.  

For Opelika City Schools, I think it's kind of like being the middle child.

Well maybe it's not.  I don't really know what being the middle child is like but I've heard it can be rough and when I read about the phenomenon known as "Middle Child Syndrome" (MCS) I think the analogy is actually a fair one.  

Yeah, I know you didn't come here for a psychology lesson.  And I do realize I've only mentioned two school systems, which makes the "Middle Child" analogy seem somewhat obsolete.  And maybe it is.  But I'm in too deep to turn back now so you're just gonna have to humor me and pretend my lack of details isn't an issue here.  Again.

Moving on...

There was a time when Mike and I considered selling our house to move into the Auburn City Schools system and if it weren't for the economy and the fact that I'd have to keep my house clean in order to show it to potential buyers we probably would have**.  And I will admit here - publicly - that we chose to send Susan to a private school to avoid Opelika City Schools.  We were drinking the anti-OCS Kool-Aid.    

But boy oh boy...  We were wrong. So wrong.  

I cry when I think about how wrong we were. Really, I do. Just ask Mrs. Hartley or Dr. Brenda Rickett, one of OCS's Assistant Superintendents.  They've seen me do it ("it" as in cry).  

But today, I advocate.  I advocate for OCS and I'm proud to do so. I advocate because I believe in OCS and know, without a doubt, that my child is exactly where she needs to be.  As a mother, this is exactly what I hope and pray for when it comes to her education.

What a great year First Grade has been for Susan!  She has worked so hard and learned so much from her amazing teacher, Mrs. Huddleston (not to mention all of the other teachers and staff at her school!), made some sweet friends (and we've gained their fun parents as friends, too!) and we've all had a lot of fun in the process.  Every time I step foot into her school I feel at home, just like I did over a year ago when Mike and I showed up for our tour.

I could not be more thrilled with our experience with this great school system and I am so proud we are a part of this family.  

I wonder how many other blessings we're missing out on because of some false or unfair perceptions we may have? Mike would tell you sushi is one of those blessings.  He thought it was disgusting until he actually tried it and realized he loves it.

I just wanted to share something that's been on my heart for a while so thanks for letting me do that here. Not that you had a choice - this is my blog - but you read this far and definitely had a choice in that matter.

I'll leave you with a Tweet I posted last fall:
"I don't cheer for red and black Dawgs often, but when I do it's for the Opelika Bulldogs!"  

*If you follow the link to the OCS website, don't be surprised to see the current Miss America gracing the homepage.  She grew up in Opelika and we claim her even though she's "technically" Miss New York. Again - don't get too caught up in the details.  She's one of us.)

**We still wouldn't mind selling our house so if you know anybody who needs one, please send them my way.  Our house isn't actually for sale or anything; I still can't bear the thought of keeping it clean.  It's just that there's a beautiful house that's currently on the market and I would love to buy it.  It's also in the perfect location for us: Opelika.  

Mrs. Huddleston and "her babies"


  1. As the wife of an Opelika teacher, I agree. Both are fantastic and it is ok to have two great school districts in the same county.

  2. Thank you so much for this! I am the proud mother of one of Southview's wonderful teachers, Mr. John Lofland. I have always felt like OCS took a back seat to ACS and somewhat unfairly so. Our three children went through OCS from K-12th grade and had a wonderful experience and got a great education. From the administrators on down to all the principals, teachers and staff, I am proud of Opelika City Schools! Thanks again for a very well written blog. I really appreciate it.

  3. Thank you for your sweet note, Ms. Lofland! My daughter attended the SPACE Camp at Southview last summer before she actually started school there and Mr. Lofland was one of the very first people we got to know at the school. We love him, too!

    I really do appreciate you taking the time to comment here and that my post resonated with you as it is truly from the heart.

  4. As a teacher at Carver and parent of a child at Southview, I agree whole-heartedly! Thank you for your honesty and sharing your experience! May I share this on Facebook? Would love for more people to see this! You can email me at maggie.cooper@opelikaschools.org

  5. I'm friends with Maggie, and found this post linked to her FB feed. We moved to the Auburn/Opelika area five years ago, and what you say is true. There is some sort of misperception about OCS that is pervasive. I can't even begin to understand where this comes from! We fell in love with Opelika, and what started as a 1-year temporary stay in the area became a place where we bought a house and put down roots. I just finished my fourth year teaching 7th grade ELA at OMS, and I plan to retire here in twenty years, so perhaps I will have your daughter in my class one day. :) People think that teachers are biased when they rave about their schools (and we are!), so thank you for spreading the GOOD word about our school system. :)

    Also, I agree with your husband about sushi--I took a trip to Japan back before I gave it a chance, and now I regret that I was not a connoisseur back then. C'est la vie.

  6. Love! More importantly, my kids love their schools (Southview and Northside). I always feel at home in both schools and know that those teachers truly care about my kids and want to see them excel! I'm sure that our neighboring school systems have amazing teachers, as well. This was my "Dream 2020" at Cornerstone: To break down the "walls" that divide Auburn and Opelika and their surrounding communities and to find a way to erase the negativity between them.

  7. I moved my three kids from private school to OCS back in 2010.. my oldest was in 5th grade at the time...she graduated Friday night and we have enjoyed every minute. I feel like she received a high quality education and she is prepared for the next step. She was involved in show choir and tennis and was a OHS emissary her senior year.. the relationships and experiences have made such a positive impact on her life!! It was a hard decision at the time but I'm so happy we did it. She has thrived at OCS. I feel as the underdog in the community we are constantly trying to improve and do things well and our kids benefit from that. I love the teachers, coaches, and administrators at Opelika. They have done an amazing job. Its a great place. Go Dawgs!!