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This feature first appeared in the Fourth Quarter 2012 Issue of Lincoln County Magazine.  Subscribe today!

By C. Pete Peterson

The runner has assumed his mark, feet on the blocks and fingers on the line. His eyes focus on the target at the end of the track. Bam! And they’re off. The race has begun. The Lincoln County School District is once again off and running. And while the government states that we should “Leave No Child Behind” it festers a malignance of competition. The federal government and state governments have often drawn analogies between sports and education. The most recent one is “Race to the Top.” . It’s perhaps the greatest paradox in government.

And so we offer statistics: Lincoln County School District is 3rd in the state for graduation rates behind Lander and Eureka. We rank number one in the state for average daily attendance.

We have heard from teachers in Clark County that Lincoln does so well because we have such small class sizes. While there may be logic in this statement one has to look at the data. If the statement were true, every other rural district in the state would be as successful as Lincoln has been – near the top. Indeed, there are five districts with fewer students than Lincoln and another with only 20 students more. Only eight of the districts in the state received designation of Adequate. Four have a designation of In Need of Improvement and five are on the Watch list. Five school districts spend more per pupil than Lincoln County. The rest all spend less. Clark County spends the least and Eureka County spends the most.

While Lincoln County is near the top with test scores we are the top in people. Students in Lincoln are phenomenal. The Pahranagat Valley High School football program has a record setting 52 wins and is ranked number three in the nation. This includes the last four state championships in 1A football as well as the last four Academic state championships. (Editor’s note: The count is now 57 straight wins and five straight state titles). PVHS has also won the NIAA Academics and Athletics Award the last four years. Kalee Whipple left this small town and went on to play for University of Utah and now is on the coaching staff of UNLV.

Caliente Elementary was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education in 2010. Caliente is working hard implementing Response to Intervention (RtI) to students needs and are addressed at an individual level. This program (all of the schools are doing this at varying levels) assists students in their respective levels.

Not unlike PVHS, Lincoln County High School has a tremendous athletic program. Student athletes often are awarded academic awards as well. In the spring of 2012 LCHS performed the Broadway sensation Les Miserables. This production would be difficult for schools 10 times the size of LCHS but students pulled it off wonderfully. Fully one fourth of the school population was involved in this production.

The other schools are all doing incredible things too. Lincoln County is a remarkable place to raise kids. Hillary Clinton has often quoted an African proverb that, “It takes a whole village to raise a Child”. Parents here are often supportive of their children and extra-curricular activity.

LCSD appreciates efforts from parents in support. However, we encourage support with academics as well. All too often students come to school with incomplete homework. Reading with your child just 15 minutes daily can increase their ability to learn threefold. Research is also clear on the effects of families eating at least one meal together daily. LDS leader David O. McKay once said, “No success can compensate for failure in the home.” As parents we must not relinquish all of our children’s education to public schools.

While many of our nations school systems demand more funding, Lincoln County (indeed, the state) has reduced funding. But we have done so with minimal layoffs. So while money is also a concern, we believe LCSD has been very fiscally responsible in doing more with less. No employee within the district has had a cost-of-living raise since 2007.

Other problems in the district are not unique to LC. We have issues with theft, alcohol and cheating. And we have had teachers who have had to learn to be better teachers. We recognize we have problems and work to correct them. We thank the community for the continued support.

As the runners come around the final corner Lincoln is undoubtedly ahead of the pack. But he has a gimp in his stride. We need to make sure he gets the physical therapy he needs.

C. Pete Peterson is Principal at Panaca Elementary School.

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