Platte R-3 commiserates,
Vince Lombardi, one of the greatest coaches and
teachers of all time, once said that the
harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.
At the Northland Career Center last Thursday
evening, hard work succumbed to retirement for
11 cherished members of what has arguably become
one of Missouris best school systems in
Platte County R-3.
For on that day only several days before
the districts senior class graduation ceremonies,
as if to add more perspective to the occasion
Greg McPherson, John Hall, Ray Mahowski,
Chris Eaton, Jay Cook, Rick Witt, Wayne Schumacher,
Kathy Hatfield, Debbie Faudere, Jan Scott, Pam
Miller and board member Lee Ann Fadler experienced
a commencement of their own: retirement.
One by one, residents, colleagues, school and
government officials filed into the center, signing
autograph books that were earmarked for the retirees,
sipping on punch, coffee and tea from standard
school issue foam cups. Small talk was prevalent
at first some chatted about the news issues
of the day, others joked around good naturedly
but an overall solemn sense of community
seemed to pervade on this night.
Some time after an introduction by Superintendent
Mark Harpst which extolled the groups 264
combined years of service, did that point really
drive home to the more than 100 people in attendance.
One by one, guest speakers took to the podium,
alternately roasting and praising their assigned
retiree, before bestowing a crystal trophy upon
them. All of the speeches touched on the individual
character traits of the individual members. Miller
was ordained the Queen of 92 Highway,
Fadler was decreed to be forever a Pirate,
and Greg McPherson was proclaimed an average
golfer, for instance.
Still, in the final analysis, one theme was universal:
they were being recognized for their commitment
to the students and the community and for that
they would certainly be missed.
But just as the graduating senior class was about
to learn, a torch was being passed and the school
community would move forward. No less than 15
minutes after the retirement ceremony had concluded,
the guests were making their way to the east lawn
of the R-3 complex, there to observe the groundbreaking
ceremony of their $17 million middle school project.
The event was largely more than ceremonial, it
was also a promise fulfilled: Harpst had told
voters he had hoped to break ground prior to June
1st if the schools bond issue was approved.
It was and they did.
Although the weather wasnt cooperating
(it was cold and damp on that day, the field reduced
to a muddy sponge), the spirit at the site was
upbeat and jovial. The high school band blared
the countrys national anthem as onlookers
removed their hats and placed their hands over
their hearts. There seemed to be no doubt among
those in attendance that a bright future lay ahead
for the district as the selected luminaries dug
their ceremonial shovels into the ground, commemorating
the projects start, mugging for the cameras.
And after a night of ceremony, where people struggled
to put into words exactly what they were feeling,
perhaps Harpst said it best when he made a brief
aside to a local newspaper reporter from 252 Main
Theres just a lot of enthusiasm here.
And for a district that is used to winning and
working hard, much as Coach Lombardi described,
thats a feeling the community will most
assuredly never want to surrender.