To The Editor:

We are fortunate to live in a safe, appealing and attractive area where we care about each other, our schools and our surroundings. We stand ready to welcome newcomers wanting a fresh start or fleeing dangerous or unfavorable living conditions. We long for entrepreneurs, large and small companies, and everyday people looking for good steady work to join us. We don’t want to lose anyone, any family, any teacher or any employer for any reason.

These feelings I have today of fullness and gratitude remind me, in an unexpected way, of very different feelings we all shared after Tropical Storm Irene and after the deaths of our five dearest teens. Then, it was despair and anguish and fear and depression that brought us together. And come together we did. We were one.

We must come together again. We recognize and treasure the features of our different towns, but, more importantly, we must value our connectedness, our unity and our similarities that are no better exemplified than in our common love for our small schools and local control over them. Each school can prosper. Each school can offer the best education for its town. We can support each one.

Our superintendent and our unified school board have become the most visible leaders in our district. Yet, they should only be focused on schools, not on the economic and cultural fates of our towns. They should not be making decisions that have far-reaching unintended consequences that can never be undone.

To counterbalance the school board, we need a districtwide community group comprised of civic leaders, employers, school teachers, clergy, social agencies, environmental experts, experienced seniors, passionate young people and any other committed residents who will take on the task of growing our communities. This group and the school board need to work in concert. We cannot choose closing, shrinking, crowding and small thinking.

If we pay attention and come together, I believe we can all thrive and send our children to local schools that we are able to financially support for decades to come.

We can do this. We have done hard things before when we were one.

Cary Friberg