To the editor: I write to thank members of this community for turning out to vote in the general election. While I was not successful in gaining a seat on the Shamokin Area School Board, I appreciated talking with many residents about the hopes and dreams of their children, and the precious funds families do invest as taxpayers. Reminiscing with alumni and their parents was especially enjoyable, recalling connections laced with laughter and the good sides of being an employee of the Shamokin Area School District. In a community as small as ours, it is easy to recognize faces and recall memories of youthful events. My desire to work for educational betterment is why I sought a seat, and I have no regrets about that choice.

In these pre-election discussions, the educational concern voiced by residents was the same: where are the "enrichments" for the elementary school children. Are they a priority? Will they be reinstated? So many grandparents miss the traditional programs showcasing their family members' talents. Scrapbook pages remain empty, void of pictures and programs. Many families cannot afford private lessons, or have had to cancel their Internet service for financial reasons. Playgrounds are reactive, not interactive. Children are kept out of an "enrichment loop." I wondered aloud how lifelong skills in art, music, movement, technology studies and library use and research can continue to be handled by those with only minimal training to offer such in-depth services, compared to a teacher who majored in the separate areas.

How long can we accept a lack of life enrichments? If reinstated, should we allow them to be canceled when there is a shortage of substitute teachers? Change is needed, in theory and practice.

I express these concerns here, and want to encourage residents of like mind to voice them loudly and clearly so that the newer board members hear these pleas. Perhaps changes can occur, taking financial precedence over any new positions created at this month's meeting by the existing board, or in the future as budget discussions ensue.

Democracy works when we participate. It can disappear when we are complacent. As one director informed me, debate is welcomed.

To me, the choice to invest in and reinstate the lifetime skills classes at the elementary school is a clear one, and should not be up for debate.


Diane C. Serafin

Retired educator