Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | June 10, 2008

Trimble’s advice applies today

A recent letter to the editor from Gilroy Unified School District parent Tammy Drews about the district’s new high school attendance boundaries reminded me of the wisdom of the late Florence Trimble.

Drews wrote that she’s upset about the proposed attendance boundaries because they mean that when Christopher High School opens her daughter must “go to high school without any of her friends there to help with the change.”

Drews has a different attendance plan. She wrote, “I do not understand why the school board does not make the boundaries by elementary school. If your child goes to this elementary school, then this is the middle school and high school they will attend.”

Given that GUSD has three middle schools and will soon have two high schools, it is impossible to tie each student at each middle school to the same high school, as Drews proposes, at least once Christopher High School is at full capacity; students from one middle school would have to be divided between the two high schools or one high school would have many more students than the other.

Drews’ scheme also might not allow for middle and high schools that are socio-economically balanced, a goal that’s much more important than trying to keep classmates together from kindergarten through high school.

Drews’ worries about her daughter missing her former classmates as she moves into high school reminded me of a letter that Florence Trimble wrote nearly six years ago when parents raised similar concerns about middle school attendance boundaries that were drawn in anticipation of the opening of Ascension Solarsano Middle School, GUSD’s third middle school.

Protests erupted when new middle school boundaries were announced – very similar to what the district is now experiencing with the drawing of new high school attendance boundaries planning ahead of the planned opening of Christopher High School in the fall of 2009.

Here’s a portion of Trimble’s letter that was published on December 13, 2002:

As [a former career teacher and educator] I’d like to share some comfort with the parents who are distraught at the prospect that their children may be separated from their former classmates in transition to middle school. Believe me, it is not necessarily bad for children facing adolescence to be compelled to make new friends. Sometimes it is a great blessing! That is especially true if the child has been for some time in a small exclusive group.

New friends bring the potential of fresh interests, new viewpoints, and a better understanding of human character, all of them avenues to personal growth. They may also lead to developing self-reliance, as a child is removed from over-dependence on a classmate.

Don’t be unduly disturbed if your young daughter tearfully declares that her heart will be broken forever if she is separated from her bosom friend! Chances are, the tears will dry quickly in the excitement of a new school year, if parents are supportive but do not encourage her immature response.

In adulthood few persons name as their only close friends those who started first grade with them. Along the way we develop new interests and approaches to life, often diverging from our earlier companions. Increasing maturity leads all of us to choose our friends based on shared values and concerns rather than by the accident of sitting beside me in class.

Change “middle” to “high” in the first paragraph and Trimble’s nearly six-year-old advice applies perfectly to worried parents like Drews.

I never met Florence Trimble, except on the pages of The Dispatch. But based on what I’ve read about her, I know that she was a extraordinary woman who gave of herself to many important causes; she was so remarkable that President George H. W. Bush named her one of his “thousand points of light.” She died 16 days after that letter was published, at the age of 92.

I hope that worried GUSD parents will heed the sage advice that Trimble shared on the pages of this newspaper shortly before she died. It will serve you and your children well.

Not only that, following her advice nearly six years later would be a fitting tribute to an exceptional Gilroyan and would, I suspect, please Florence Trimble very much.

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Responses

  1. […] to the survival of our democracy. I quoted another part of that letter several years later in a column about Christopher High School attendance boundary […]


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