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8/20 M-I Town: Patty Taylor Dutcher

Summertime ... and the living is busy these days in MI Town as families begin to make preparations for their sons and daughters for another year of school.

Whether your child is excited about his or her very first day of kindergarten or you are busy helping your off-to-college student load the car for their university experience, this is the time of year when emotions run high and just about any sentence spoken can be filled with both tears and laughter.

We're also anticipating the arrival of a new group of students at Western Oregon University in just a few short weeks. We have already seen several new young faces from far away places as students are walking around MI Town and the campus.

It's been a joy to visit with these bright and smiling young men and women as they are seeking to find their way around our community and learn so much about an entirely different culture and language than in their home countries.

It is true that the Internet has made us all more aware of other countries and their customs, but when young people arrive in a small town half a world away from all they know, it is quite a challenge and a big adjustment for everyone. Let's do our best to welcome our newest residents to MI Town.

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It has been a difficult summer for many families in MI Town because of the current gloomy economic news and the ever-increasing costs for transportation, groceries and just about everything else under the sun.

People have had to scale back and even cancel vacation trips, and many are thankful to even have a job during these troubled times. We should be mindful of those of our friends and neighbors who need some extra encouragement. A smile or good wishes may be all you can offer, but sometimes that can be all the difference to someone who needs a helping hand.

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Last week's Itemizer-Observer featured a story about the latest No Child Left Behind statistics, and how several of our local schools have not made adequate progress, according to the rating system used.

This latest news gives those naysayers and talk-radio hosts the opportunity to talk about how poorly our children are doing in the classrooms, and that all the millions of dollars spent for education are indeed wasted on special programs that could be saved if only the education community would listen to their sage advice.

In my years of volunteer and paid employment in elementary and high schools, as well as university settings, I've met an incredible number of dedicated and caring professionals whose goals have always been to do their best to provide our children -- of all ages -- with the best possible education experience.

To better serve MI Town, we all need to do our best to support our local schools. Please contact Dr. Joseph Hunter, Central School District Superintendent, at 503-838-0030 to see what you can do to make a difference. It will brighten your day.

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