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Matt Berglund: To the finest in Dakota: Central High

GRAND FORKS--It's been a difficult couple of weeks for the "grand old lady" downtown. It was just one year ago when Grand Forks Central High School was named the "best public high school in North Dakota." Now, on the heels of varying recent stori...

GRAND FORKS-It's been a difficult couple of weeks for the "grand old lady" downtown. It was just one year ago when Grand Forks Central High School was named the "best public high school in North Dakota." Now, on the heels of varying recent stories in the Herald, many may be wondering what is to become of this pillar of our community.

As a teacher at Central for the past 18 years, I cannot sit idly by and watch this great school be subjected to a public relations onslaught. I don't blame the Herald. The newspaper simply is reporting the news, and as the adviser for the school newspaper at Central, I encourage my own student writers to tackle tough topics.

A recent Herald story focused on the discontent of parents and students affected by the latest change in the high school attendance area for Central and Red River (" New school boundary lines draw ire ," Page A3, March 8). The complaints are based mainly on the proximity question of the new Central attendance boundary that now extends to within four blocks of Red River.

I truly understand that this will be an adjustment for some. In fact, my own son was affected by the change in the middle school attendance area. He will be required to attend a different middle school than the one his brother has attended for the past three years.

I just hope that those who feel like they are being forced into a lesser choice for high schools would have conversations with current Central students. Ask them how many new friends at Central they made their freshmen year. Ask them if they felt comfortable and welcome at Central. Ask them if they feel like Central is a place where you can fit in and stand out at the same time.

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Other recent Herald stories have described the ongoing debate between the school district and the city over parking for Central students and staff. Then, compound that situation with the prospect of a new library being built right on top of the current Central staff parking lot and its nearly 100 badly needed spaces.

It has taken more than a decade to improve the parking situation around Central, and now we are faced with the possibility that it will be worse than ever before. I'm not against a new library, but there just isn't enough room near Central.

And I won't sidestep the story that dominated the Herald's headlines earlier this month. I'm not going to share publicly the emotions that many of my colleagues and I felt about that story, but those who know us personally know how much it has affected us.

All I will say is that for every teacher across the country who makes headlines such as that, there are hundreds of thousands of teachers who never will.

Beyond our building, I know there are thousands of Central alumni who know how special this place is. Many have taken a science class from Mr. Ames or been a part of Mrs. Aleshire's pep band. Others have learned lessons about Shakespeare from Mr. Frette or lessons about character and commitment from Coach Berg.

This past fall, Central honored another class of distinguished alumni who are considered national leaders in their fields. Last month, a tremendous group of student-athletes was inducted into the Grand Forks Central Athletic Hall of Fame, a Hall of Fame that includes former NBA, NHL and NFL players along with Olympians.

On a regular basis, I see my teaching colleagues take home large piles of papers. Those colleagues work nights and weekends to give their students the best educational experience they can - and our test scores show that.

Earlier this month, I judged a speech tournament at Central and watched speech adviser Yvonne Kalka work more than 10 straight hours coordinating a huge speech meet, then spend the next two hours doing hair and makeup for the drama department's awesome production of "The Addams Family."

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I know Central teachers who also coach and who put in more than 60 hours a week for months at a time. I see miracle workers in our special education department who never give up on kids.

And every year, I see Central students do amazing things, whether it's excelling on the stage, on the playing field or in the classroom.

Eighteen years ago, Central took a chance on an English teacher fresh out of college to be its head wrestling coach; and for that, I am forever grateful. I love my job. I look forward to going to work every day, and I can't imagine being anywhere else.

They say that if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. Central has done that for me.

Berglund is an English teacher at Central High School. He also is the school newspaper and yearbook adviser.

Related Topics: CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
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