The following editorial was published by the Lapeer County Press on Wednesday, October 29:
Lightning energizes, sets example for our community
The Lapeer Community Schools Board of Education and superintendent Matt Wandrie couldn’t have scripted it any better. With an unbeaten Lightning football team highlighting the first year of what might have been a bittersweet, if not bitter, consolidation of East and West high schools, year one of the reunification is looking pretty darn good.
While we must give Wandrie and his team credit for the planning, communication and implementation of a solid consolidation plan, you have to admit a 9-0 football team cast a bright light that has placed the minor glitches of the first week of school into the near-forgotten shadows.
As wonderful a story as the Lightning football team is for a community that has been on the outside looking in at football glory since the 1995 Lapeer West State Championship, the best story today is about how the students of the former Lapeer East and the former Lapeer West have come together.
Anyone who had a student attend either East or West knows well the stories of hubris and prejudice that for nearly four decades separated Lapeer’s high school system into an unhealthy rivalry. That rivalry was founded on the envy and innuendo of parents’ perceptions that guided the next generation into the same ‘us and them’ trap of their moms and dads.
That selfish outlook tried to take control of the simple task of naming a new mascot for the reunited high school. A vocal minority would have wrestled that choice from a well-chosen group of students tasked with finding a new mascot name and decried the Lightning moniker in letters to the editor in this paper and on social media sites.
Above the howls of some glory days windbags, Lapeer’s teams were christened as the Lightning going into the 2014-15 school year. The Lightning name was put in place not just for the high school but also for every school and team in the LCS system. Another good move by the LCS administration.
Today, merely two months into the school year, the students and staff of Lapeer High School have shown our community what can happen when an organization chooses to ignore the naysayers from without and from within and instead chooses to get on with the business of building a culture of excellence.
For sure, the success of the Lightning football team gives the story an exciting focal point, but there’s much more to this story than the autumn exuberance surrounding the Lightning’s gridiron success.
Every Lightning team, regardless of their win-loss record, is a lesson in healing decades-old crosstown ill will. Something that we used to call school spirit has returned to the extended LCS campus including the middle schools and elementary schools as students of every age and grade level rally round the Lightning banner.
Call it corny if you will, but we think something that gets our students excited about going to school and gets them engaged in a culture of positive community is a good thing.
When the football season comes to an end for the Lightning they can be proud of their accomplishments on the field. Likewise for all the sports teams, the marching band, choirs, academic teams and every other Lightning team that competes.
But the accomplishment that every Lapeer Community Schools student, teacher, administrator and staffer — and our community as a whole — should be most proud of is the remaking of their culture and showing the rest of our community what can happen when we realize that our common needs and goals outweigh our differences.
That’s a lesson that should hit home for the rest of us like a bolt — of Lightning.