by Melissa Brunner
Congratulations again to what is now the 8th grade class at Royal Valley Middle School. Wednesday, they saw the results of a year-long class project - signs which will soon be placed along Hwy. 75 to commemorate the Lane Freedom Trail.
As 7th graders, the class of more than 65 students launched an effort to win approval for the highway signing project. They researched the location, detailed the trail's history, then set about writing letters to the Governor's office and their local legislators to win support for their idea. Rep. Rocky Fund liked it and introduced a bill to make it happen. Several of the students testified in committee hearings, they all followed the votes, and they learned a lesson in legislative diplomacy when the measure even was tabled for a time.
The Lane Freedom Trail bill eventually did pass and the students advanced to 8th grade, but the students' work wasn't done. They raised $3300 to pay for the two highway signs and ongoing maintenance. Within the week, they're scheduled to see crews place those signs along the highway!
Certainly their teacher, Nathan McAlister (who recently was named National History Teacher of the Year) deserves credit for his leadership in the effort, but the students also should be applauded for buying into it and keeping it going. They and their families went above and beyond your run-of-the-mill school project and, in the process, learned lessons that will serve them well as they go through life. After all, how many of us know who are local lawmakers are and how to contact them? Would we know how to testify on a bill we felt strongly about? Have we ever been to a committee hearing? And are we willing to bend from our initial ideas on things to craft a compromise and move our initiatives ahead?
Congrats, Royal Valley students! Be proud each time you pass those signs!