On the other side of the double doors at Luray High School, activity spread throughout the converted cafeteria late Tuesday afternoon.
Students sat at tables, went in and out of the gymnasium, and got a few snacks at the concession stand. Two friendly faces greeted visitors to take admission, if you were headed to the basketball game.
A few adults linger outside the gym doors, exchanging the events of their day. A crowd of about 75 or more sit inside awaiting the start of the game in about 20 minutes.
On the other side of the cafeteria, there are no lines entering the auditorium.
In fact, once entering the dimly lit room, it appears as if it is vacated. But a second look reveals three individuals sitting on elevated chairs centered on floor level. A single attendee sits at the farthest seat from the front on the lower level, typing away on a laptop.
It’s two minutes after the official start time for “Tuesday Talks” and there is no one talking.
Not so long ago, there were throngs of critics ready to burst at the chance to “give her a piece of my mind.” And now that the opportunity has been given — crickets.
Dr. Wendy Gonzales has taken a lot of criticism in her first 18 months as superintendent of Page County Public Schools. Whether that criticism is merited or not is up to the opinion maker. As in most cases, maybe some of it was, and maybe some of it wasn’t. Regardless, give credit where credit is due.
Few have been more critical of Dr. G’s performance than this writer, but one has to tip their cap to the effort that has been made to open the lines of communication.
On Oct. 8, the first in a four-part series dubbed “Tuesday Talks” was launched at Luray High School. About 20 people showed up with mostly grievances to air. At the second and third installments, there was only one attendee each time — and it was the same person.
From that information alone, one would have to assume that either all of the problems have been solved, or those who complained have simply lost interest. The smart bet is on apathy.
While some public officials might opt to barricade themselves in their office and hide behind the secretary, Dr. Gonzales deserves credit for putting herself out there in an attempt to answer questions, create a better line of communication and nurture a better environment than what we’ve seen in the past.
These interactive informational sessions are an opportunity — not just to complain and criticize, but to coordinate and combine ideas. While these meetings were initiated to handle criticism, they could be used to create.
The last Tuesday Talks is scheduled for April 14 at Page County High School. (The locations have alternated between the two high schools.) We suggest you mark it on your calendar if you have questions or input on how our local schools should be run.
There’s little doubt that people are still complaining. The school system represents a large group of people — someone is complaining. We challenge those with complaints — and those with ideas — to step up and participate.
Attend the next Tuesday Talks on April 14 and be a part of making the change that you want to see.