♦ Dear Dallas graduates:
Please accept my apology for the speech I delivered at our recent graduation ceremony. As you know, my speech was controversial and I sincerely regret that it dampened our celebration.
Obviously, my speech deviated significantly from the traditional graduation address.
My intent was to mobilize our community to influence the school funding debate at the State Capitol before the legislative session ends this July.
I had hoped our community would have a positive "last-minute" impact on the legislative process and, perhaps, we could lessen the severity of the budget reductions for next school year.
Our graduation ceremony was the last viable opportunity I had to personally communicate these important issues to our community members prior to July.
I hope you understand that it was never my intent to take the focus away from our graduating seniors.
The efforts of you, your family and the Dallas School district staff have provided you a fine education, preparing you for a bright future.
I wanted to stress that those who follow you will be hampered in receiving such an education without added help from the Oregon Legislature.
However, the day was hot, people were tired, my speech was too long and the topic was politically charged. Not a great combination for successful communication.
Although I still believe in the message I delivered, I regret that it dampened our graduation ceremony. Once again, you have my sincere apology.
Best wishes for a bright and successful future.
Dr. David Novotney,
Dallas School District
♦ Saturday's Dallas High School graduation ceremony was an uplifing and instructional event.
The kids who spoke did a masterful job of presenting positive messages while challenging us and themselves to excellence. I was impressed.
We were instructed by School Superintendent David Novotney when he took to the shaded lectern. In 20 minutes, Dr. Novotney laid out in excruciating detail the district's financial woes.
I kind of felt sorry for the guy that a message so important to him was greeted with such hostility by the crowd. It could have been that people were sitting in 90-degree heat, some in direct sunlight.
Some parents may have had trouble focusing as they considered their children in black robes or their elderly parents trapped out in the open in potentially deadly heat.
Dr. Novotney did not let these thoughts intrude as he rentlessly delivered a message of doom and gloom with personal conviction.
It wasn't what we had expected to hear but maybe we needed it. Voters should be reminded from time to time how tough it is for school administrators to get by on shrinking budgets.
What shook me up was the long list of wonderful programs instituted in the last 20 years that we could lose. To think, I graduated from Dallas 31 years ago, and it kind of made me angry to think how my class had been shorted.
After we got the financial message, I came away feeling kind of defeated. Maybe it's time to scrap the whole public school scene and go to vouchers.
On the positive side, I did find out where there will be some teriffic old school buildings for sale.
Just think what caring, committed and mobilized parents could do with that kind of real estate. Then the sun will shine on education.
Jay C. Arnold
♦ My family and I attended the graduation ceremonies on Saturday as my daughter was among the 2003 class.
It was no doubt a memorable day for all of us.
I have to wonder how the moment got changed from the students celebrating this special occasion to hearing our Superintendent, Dr. Dave Novotney, go into a half-hour infomercial on our school budget crisis.
These kids have invested 12 years of their lives and only wanted recognition for their efforts.
I suggest in the future we discuss the budget in a different environment and with compassion for the moment. It was 90 degrees-plus where the students were sitting, our superintendent was in the shade.
This was very unfair to our senior class and to the families attending. Board meetings are open to attend. This was a captive audience.
I agree we have budget issues but not at graduation.
♦ We are writing this letter to express our disappointment with Dallas School Superintendent Dave Novotney, taking the limelight away from our daughter and her fellow classmates of 2003's graduation ceremony.
Not only that it was inappropriate to talk "politics," but our daughters and sons had to sit on a hot field with black robes on and their gradaution caps, sweating and fanning themselves trying to get relief from the heat.
No doubt when the Class of 2003 looks back on graduation, they won't remember speeches of fellow classmates that were given with a lot of heart in them. The memory will be that of Dr. Novotney talking about the budget.
Too bad we can't redo their graduation.
Congratulations 2003 graduates!
Jeff and Cheryl Dorais
♦ To the teachers, staff and administrators of the Dallas School District:
To all of you who touched my daughter's life from 1993 to 2003, thank you.
This simple note of thanks can never come close to expressing my appreciation for all you have done for my daughter, Alexis Dittrich, and her peers of the Class of 2003.
Mothers throughout Dallas made it through these years a little easier knowing that our children were cloaked by the kind words and watchful eyes of the office staffs of our elementary schools, LaCreole Middle School and Dallas High.
Counselors like the incredible Dobie Long, Art Fox and Karen Nadeau guided their hearts while looking out for their academic well-being.
The teachers, well, how do you say thank you to the people who had the power to nurture a fledgling love for learning into a passion for it or just the opposite?
To Mr. Travis, Mrs. Bowers, Ms. Halsey, Mr. Betschart, Mr. Lyell, Mr. and Mrs. Day, Mrs. Groom, Mr. Fobert, Mrs. Ussery, Mr. Balsley, Mr. Beck and all the rest who had my daughter in your classroom, I am forever grateful.
To Kathy Voves, thank you for teaching leadership not from a textbook but through being a true leader, by modeling what you taught through dedication, passion and caring.
To principals like Scott McLeod, teachers, counselors, coaches, librarians, classified staff and everyone else who touched her life -- each kind word or smile, every extra effort you made, every time you believed in her when others didn't -- you helped create a precious space in her heart that simply, profoundly and forever will say My Hometown.
My husband and I moved to Dallas to give our daughter a hometown like we never had. Thank you to all of you who gave it to her.
♦ Throughout the past 12 years, my classmates and I have striven to achieve goals of growing up and attain a diploma from Dallas High School.
On Saturday, came our moment of triumph that was supposed to be a recognition of our great success.
Family and friends came to the ceremony to join in celebration and remembrance of hard work and dedication that would be rewarded. During the ceremony came a speech by Superintendent Dave Novotney that made me cry.
This emotion of sadness was not due to his congratulatory remarks, because there were few, but because of his ramblings of budgets cuts and negative information.
My heart cried for the heartless speech and for my family that had to listen, but especially for my fellow classmates who had worked so hard.
I am absolutely appalled by what he did, which was to use a recognition of efforts as an open forum on community problems. To the speakers from my class I would like to say that your speeches could not have been better. Congratulations to the Class of 2003!