Our View: School year is a fresh start

With faces scrubbed and clothes neatly pressed – we hope – a new crop of little ones left the comfort of home and boarded big yellow busses for the first time Monday, commencing new adventures at the start of a new school year.

Likewise, older children continued their educational pursuits, headed for classrooms where we hope they will excel, as the first steps toward lifetimes of intellectual and perhaps economic prosperity.

Our hearts are with the parents who, sending their tiny treasures off for the very first time, know the heart-wrenching mixture of pain and joy that comes with that first step toward growing up.

They are also with the parents of older children, who will experience we all have the rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows that a school year brings.

For teachers and administrators, we have confidence that the stunning jobs done year after year will continue to set new and higher standards.

In Terrebonne Parish fruits of those labors are already evident.

As a story in this issue of The Times shows, the number of Terrebonne Parish high school students enrolling in college-level courses has nearly quadrupled over a period of two years.

This speaks well of teachers and the taught.

Also in this issue are the words of Terrebonne High School Principal Julio Contreras, spoken to a group of inmates from the Terrebonne Parish jail whose payment of debts to the community included cleaning and improvements to the high school.

His words appear in a column written by Senior Staff Writer John DeSantis.

Contreras spoke with conviction about each school year being a new beginning, and an opportunity for past foibles to be undone, for the record to be re-written, and for the future to be built.

If the words of Contreras are any indication, students at THS have a winner in their principal, who later drew praise from members of a tough crowd, who humbly and sincerely communicated thoughts and words that rang with truth.

In a rare move for school administrators, who sometimes communicate a myth of infallibility with such conviction as to be nearly papal, Contreras humbled himself before the most humbled of people, by apologizing if the school system had failed any of them. Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t, and even a case-by-case close examination might never turn up whether an apology is truly in order. But the courage of Contreras to bare the school system’s throat is duly noted here, and applauded.

In addition to reading, writing and arithmetic, our schools teach children additional lessons, which are often the most important and which involve not just words but example

By and large it is our belief that educators in Terrebonne and Lafourche present fine examples of youngsters every day of the qualities that will carry them furthest into the world. Whether it is the teacher who takes time to teach a student extra skills needed to master a course, or the coach who emphasizes sportsmanship rather than just will to win, or the administrator who shows by example that forgiveness is golden, that everyone gets a fair hearing, that respect is earned, not just presumed, then goes on to earn it, educators in our parishes have proved they have what it takes to do not just a good job but an exemplary one.

Contreras has set a high bar that we are certain others in his position have followed, and will continue to do as such.

The new school year, perhaps more than any other mark on the calendar, offers proof that past wrongs and mis-steps do not have to chart the future course of any child, parent or teacher.

We recognize that this new year represents a clean slate, and we eagerly look forward to presenting those stories.

We might not always have room or time to list every accomplishment, but we, like everyone else, try our very best. If we have failed in this regard during the past year then know we will also do better in the year to come.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy new school year, with hopes for the very best.