Stewardship: 1938 - 2038

Recently, the town voted to replace the elementary schools. In a few years there will be a new K-5 school on the West Vine Street School site, and the venerable West Broad Street School will be retired. When it is retired, West Broad will be approaching 120 years of service. Wow. Because this building has been a part of the community for generations, some people have been willing to overlook its obvious shortcomings  as a modern school. Objectively, however, it is time to let the sun set on this Gilded Age edifice.

When the final bell rings at the West Broad Street School, Pawcatuck Middle School will become the oldest school building in the district. Built in 1938, Pawcatuck Middle will become the last brick school building in the district. The construction of two new elementary schools all but guarantees that Pawcatuck Middle will have to be in service when it marks it centenial in 2038.

That amounts to another 22 years of service at a minimum. Although the cost of replacing the roof of the school was added to the construction project, the cost of building two new elementary schools at the same time also makes any major renovation to Pawcatuck Middle very unlikely. 

What this means is that our students must shoulder the responsibility of stewardship of the building. As much as it's their school, it must also be the school of children born after 2028. Unless the students of today take very good care of the physical building, it will not be there for the students of tomorrow.

According to Wikipedia, stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. The planning has been done. What is necessary in order to make it to 2038, is for students to understand their role in the management part. This ethos requires students to be not only users of the school, but also to be guardians and keepers of the school. In the last few years, damage inside the school has been increasing. We need to reverse that trend. Meting out consequences after the damage is done, won't get us to 2038. Talking to students both at school and at home about their roles as stewards, and getting them to take it seriously is only way to get there.

Dictionary.com defines stewardship as, "The responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving." I believe Pawcatuck Middle is exactly that.