Merrill Piepkorn, Fargo, Published March 30 2013
Letter: Neighborhood schools vital to communityWhat a treat it was to walk my young neighbor, 7-year-old Wyatt Medders, to school the other day. The Medders family, originally from Alabama, moved to the neighborhood six years ago when Wyatt was 1½. Now there are three more kids in the family with another on the way.
When the Medders were shopping for a home in Fargo, they wanted a neighborhood that was close to work, church and school. Much to the delight of everyone on our block, they chose to live in the Horace Mann neighborhood. Dad, Jason, bikes to work at North Dakota State University. Stay-at-home mom, Kelli, will be walking her kids to Horace Mann for years to come, and the Medders kids have a fun, safe neighborhood to live in with lots of other kids to play with.
I’m writing this letter from a particular point of view. As president of the Horace Mann Area Neighborhood Association, and a member of the Alliance for Neighborhood Schools, I am serving on the citizen-based Fargo Public Schools Long Range Facilities Planning Task Force. I want to see my school, Horace Mann, stay in the business of educating students. A great neighborhood begins with great neighbors, and one of the reasons my neighbors want to live here is we have a great school anchoring the neighborhood. Other members of the alliance – Clara Barton, Hawthorne, Roosevelt, Madison and McKinley – are equally passionate about their neighborhoods and schools.
We’re proud of the growth and development of Fargo: the new housing, new neighborhoods and the new schools. And we’re aware of the overcrowding at Kennedy Elementary and realize that growing pains like that need to be addressed. But as we forge ahead into the future, we urge the city and the school board to not abandon the past. Young families want to live in established neighborhoods, too, and seek them out.
We’ve spent millions of dollars of private and public money to keep downtown Fargo vibrant. Let’s not forget about the inner circle of neighborhoods surrounding downtown.