To the Editor:

“Oh, bless your heart.”

That is the response I often get when I tell people where I work. While I am thankful for the sentiment, I would like to clear up some of the misconceptions and lack of understanding of what Statesville High School is all about.

There are many in the community who have voiced their concerns about my school. Many people think it is a place of chaos, danger, and lower quality of learning than other schools. Others think that our students are in some ways of lesser value or maybe less civil than others. I can assure you that these statements come from false information and ignorance.

If you take the time to look at the number of students who have gotten into physical altercations at our school, you would see that the percentage who have been involved in a car accident is higher than the percentage of students who have gotten into fights at the school.

Here’s the truth:

Statesville High School serves students from all demographics, cultures, religions, sexual orientation, poverty levels, and backgrounds. Some of our students come to school because it might be the only time during a day when they are guaranteed food; some come after moving to this country because they want to receive an American education; some come because they are simply in that attendance zone; and some come from outside of our school boundaries because of the great opportunities our school has to offer. Our differences are what make us great. Despite having all these different backgrounds and challenges, our students develop great relationships with each other and work together to better themselves and achieve whatever level of academic proficiency they get. I state this because our test scores are often under attack as well. Some of our students start high school on a third-grade reading level, and our teachers work hard to bring them up at least six years of proficiency if not more. Although all of our students don’t graduate reading on grade level, having this knowledge puts things in perspective.

I have worked at this school by choice for most of my career, and I have had the privilege to work with some of the kindest, most dedicated, and hardworking people I have ever met. It is much easier to teach in a school where many of the trials I have mentioned don’t occur. Our staff has been tempered by these challenges and have come out better because of them, as have our students. These challenges and differences are what makes us stronger. Our students have to overcome poverty, discrimination, culture shock, bigotry, and even misconceptions held by our community to show how accomplished and worthy they are.

Many people in this community are graduates of this school and know what it truly was. If you come see what we are all about, you will learn that Statesville High is still a great school.

Once a Greyhound, always a Greyhound.

My response to myself when someone says to me “Bless your heart” is simple. I am blessed because of the staff and students I see every day.

Editor’s Note: The writer is a teacher at Statesville High School.

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