Visionary leaders continue to shape local education

mug Damian Patnode
Damian Patnode

Damian Patnode
Milaca High School Principal

With every new school year, I like to take the opportunity to reflect on the path we have traveled, and look to the future of where we are heading.  In the past few years the Milaca community has lost some very visionary and influential people, like Oscar Anderson, Pete and Thora Allen, and Herb Claffy.  I thought about how these people impacted the hearts and minds of the people who came to know them.  I also think about the impact that they continue to have on the community.  The quotes throughout this article answered my questions about the impact that these individuals had.  These people were visionaries. They invested their time, talents, and resources into things that could last for generations.

“Where there is no vision the people perish.” ~ Proverbs 29:18

Oscar Anderson was a Master Sergeant and a tank commander in the Korean War.  He received the Bronze Star for his service and actions during that war.  After serving our country, he and his wife Peggy farmed and raised a large family in rural Milaca.  Oscar was a mainstay at many Milaca sporting events, and could always be found on Friday night at home football games raising the flag during the National Anthem.  Everyone who came into contact with Oscar walked away knowing how passionate he was about Milaca and its wonderful community.  He honored numerous veterans by serving as a member of the honor guard, and displaying flags around town on National Holidays.  Oscar truly believed that Milaca was the greatest town, and he wanted nothing but the best for our community.

“Create your future from your future, not your past.” ~ Werner Erhard

Pete and Thora Allen were champions of Milaca most of their lives.  There wasn’t an event in the area that happened without some influence from the Allen’s.  They worked to help create the Milaca Scholarship Foundation, which has helped hundreds of students further their education.  The Allen’s understood that education was the key to the future of our society, and they invested in this belief in so many ways.  Later in life, they were instrumental in bringing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to the Milaca community.  This program provides books to children from birth until age 5.  The comment they made during the initiation of this program was, “The Milaca Scholarship Foundation has provided opportunity for students as they leave Milaca High; this program will help students as they enter Milaca Elementary.”

“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” ~ Jonathan Swift

Herb Claffy is a legend in Milaca.  The impact he left is still talked about and he will be remembered for his passion, enthusiasm, and dedication to Milaca High.  Herb had a way of taking a 150-170 pound boy, and transforming him into a fierce competitor that consistently overpowered players that were bigger and stronger.  He understood that the muscle that counted the most is the heart, and no one can see that muscle on the playing field.  He changed the hearts and minds of numerous athletes, and helped put Milaca on the map.

“Every few hundred years throughout history a sharp transformation has occurred.  In a matter of decades, society altogether rearranges itself.  Fifty years later a new world exists.  And the people born into it cannot imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born.” ~ Peter Drucker

As the new school year begins, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the vision of Milaca High School. Our mission is to prepare students for the next chapter in their life:  adulthood.  To accomplish this, we need to prepare students to be career and college ready when they walk across the stage at graduation.  This is a difficult task, considering we are living in a world of exponential change.  We are preparing students for careers that don’t even exist yet.
The days of teaching students about, “When Columbus sailed the ocean blue” are over.  Students can find the answer to this, and other questions like it by asking Siri or Google.  Students today need to read, write and think critically.  They need to problem solve the impossible, and then invent and re-invent over and over and over.  They need to be able to deal with conflict appropriately and build relationships with people.  These are all things that cannot be accomplished inside of a school building alone.  This will take the home, school, community, and a commitment from everyone to create, shape, and achieve the vision.
Students, parents, staff members, alumni, and community members all play a role in the success of this vision.  How can you help?  Be like Ocsar, Pete, Thora, and Herb.  Give of your time, talent and resources by investing in something bigger, and support the community through your words, actions and attendance at events.