Point of View: Contributions from public schools support community relationships

Community. This word resonated with me throughout the evening of our West Homer Elementary Talent Show on March 28. It highlighted for me the power of our local learning community. Red Asselin and our Parent-Teacher Organization had the idea to shift the show this year to be entirely student produced. Parents spent countless hours with a Student Planning Committee and performers to put on the show. Sound and lights, run by students, emcees — students, decorating, advertising, done by students, and of course the talent — students.

Music, dance, painting, poetry, drama, comedy, magic, and even a presentation on coding; the talents of our children are vast, and I don’t think there was anyone who attended who was not surprised and delighted in one way or another by what they learned about the kids’ capabilities.

Our Shakespeare Club, run by a parent, fresh off their performance at the Senior Center, delivered several unbelievable acts as jaws dropped at how students could possibly remember and deliver these lines with such passion and clarity.


Older students hug, high five, and congratulate younger performers every time they step off stage after their act is over recognizing the courage it took them to perform. Community. The entire crowd cheers for each and every act no matter how polished. Community. Parents sit side by side at cafeteria tables enjoying the amazing diverse talents of Homer children. Community.

It is in moments like these that divisions dissolve and we are able to be present with each other in common purpose. We sit next to others who may run in different circles and share in the joy of celebrating our children’s achievements together. Community. Every time we put on an event like this, without fail, I hear adults sharing with each other something like, “Wow, I never knew your son/daughter could _____________ (insert amazing talent/skill). That was amazing!” Community.

We enjoy a positive relationship with Fireweed Academy Charter School, whose students also delighted the community with their talents. And let’s not forget the parents from both schools that stayed well after the music stopped to break down the stage together. Community.

In addition to high-quality instruction in math, reading and writing, public schools serve an important additional purpose: They bring us together and create relationships. And this is one of many events that helps us at West Homer Elementary achieve our mission of building strong connections among community, families, staff and students in a safe, healthy, nurturing environment that challenges each student.

All of our community schools are a product of the passions, interests and energy of people within our Homer community and are not possible without local control, local connection, and local investment.

I am honored to be able to support this community of learners, including students, parents, community members and teachers in preparing all our students to be able to have the courage and confidence to make positive contributions to the world as our vision states.

And let’s not forget where the funds from this event go — making sure every student at West Homer Elementary goes home with a yearbook at no cost so they can all equally celebrate and remember their shared experience this year. Community.

Eric Waltenbaugh is the principal of West Homer Elementary School.