I have been thinking a lot about how to explain my school and community to the students and teachers that I will meet in Colombia. As I watched the Whitefish Bay 4th of July parade go by today, I realized that the answer to this question was walking right past me. If you ask anyone who lives in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, what the best day of the year in our village is, the answer would be: The Fourth of July! This is a day that really shows what is important to this community: children, neighbors, schools and churches. Organizations, clubs and businesses all come together for a fun filled small town parade which is followed by an all-day picnic and then fireworks in the evening.
As I watched the parade go by, it was clear that our schools hold an important place in our community. This year two of my teaching colleagues were given the honor of leading the parade! It was wonderful to hear the crowds cheering these fantastic teachers. There were also kids of all ages. School athletes (including the state champion high school gymnastics team), Little League baseball players, Boys Scouts, Irish dancers, Tae Kwon Do clubs, marching bands, Catholic school students and people of all ages just having fun walked by waving. I saw many of my current and former student as well as neighbors and friends.
So, how will I describe Whitefish Bay? I could tell how it is a village of predominantly single family homes covering an area of 2.4 square miles along Lake Michigan. I could explain that almost 14,000 people live here and most of the people who live here work in business and education. But I think it is more interesting to consider why people live here. When given a survey asking this question they responded:
- Sense of community
- High quality public and private schools
Whitefish Bay is considered to be a great place for families with children. People are willing to pay high prices for their homes here, largely to be a part of this strong social fabric. What does this “fabric” look and feel like? It is clearly in evidence on the 4th of July!
Question for kids: What did you do on the 4th of July?