Several members of the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board participated in a Socrates Cafe that was held at the school for the community this week.

Some 140 people attended the student-run Socrates Cafe which was also attended by Christopher Phillips, author and creator of the Socrates Cafe discussion events.

One of the board members who attended the event, Caitlin Hollister, Waterbury, had some insightful things to say about it. She pointed out the importance of community members showing up to support and validate students when they undertake events such as these.

She’s right about that and she’s right to point out the importance of high school students graduating from school with the ability to lead these types of discussion.

Her third point, however, as the parent of a kindergarten student, is particularly thought provoking.

“I think it’s important for us to have this variety of experience, whether it’s attending a school play, attending a parent night, whatever opportunities we can, to get other windows to the school district,” she said.

That is spot on. Because we get focused on whatever sector of our education community we are tied to chronologically via students or teachers or sports or budgets.

Our school system is more than a kindergarten class and more than an artist-in-residency performance and more than sports playoffs and more than the high school musicals and band performances. Our education system, which is now unified, is all of those things plus the Socrates Cafes and PTOs and school gardens and award-winning teachers.

As we work our way through what it means to be a unified union school district, we’d do well to try to look beyond our current lens of what education is in our community.

Hats off to all the community members who attended and participated. Ditto for the educators, board members and the students. The leadership skills that the students are learning are impressive. The ability for the students to teach people in our community how to talk to each other with this level of respect and understanding is commendable.