Big Sandy: Small School, Big Potential
September 13, 2017
Times are changing, people are changing, our education system is changing, but we are learning and growing right along with it. As members of the student body at Big Sandy High School, in a dual credit education class, we took it upon ourselves to take a closer look at the true climate in Big Sandy High School after a recently published Havre Daily News article provided a nearly negative outlook on our learning environment.
In our dual credit class we are learning the proper ways to shape young minds, create a safe learning environment for students, and better ourselves through the art of teaching. When the article was brought to our attention in class we decided to take to the halls and begin asking students and teachers about their class and school surroundings, along with their opinions on our town, school, and the recent article. We believe through sharing these positive perspectives of Big Sandy High School, and Big Sandy in general, we can work to clear the shadow of negativity cast over our hometown and school.
When asked about the advantages of a small school, the new English teacher in Big Sandy, Sarah Pugh, stated, "Kids don't fall through the cracks. Kids don't get left behind because a teacher doesn't have enough time, or enough space in the class for that one student. So it seems like everybody is important." Although a low attendance rate can seem to pose problems in a school, teachers and students can both agree the small classes make for a more personal learning experience and are incredibly beneficial. When interviewing the students, a majority of them said that an advantage of our small school system is the one-on-one time spent with the teachers. This is an immense benefit to the students of Big Sandy, and it provides a deeper understanding of what is being taught in the classroom.
Students at Big Sandy High School have been setting and accomplishing goals since kindergarten. Many teachers can attest to that as well because of the pressure put on students to always do the best they can. Being close to home seems to fall under some of those goals, but it does not mean forgoing the pursuit of a higher education. Andrea Rutledge, a senior, says her plans are to attend MSU Bozeman and major in animal science with focus on beef reproduction. Goals such as these have a strong pull on students to bring them back home. The teachers at Big Sandy High School are extremely willing to help students figure out what their plans might be for the upcoming future. It can be scary to make decisions such as college all by yourself, but with guidance from teachers and staff, life seems to fall into place a little more easily.
Our school system would not be where it is now without the support of our community. The town of Big Sandy, all 600 people, is always supporting the school system. The students and staff of Big Sandy High School are remarkably thankful for that. Citizens of Big Sandy show their support in multiple ways. Our local Rotary Club, Booster Club, and the businesses throughout town show support by countless donations and so much more. Friends, family, and fans always make an appearance at sports games, music concerts, et cetera. Another perk of living in a small town is being able to know everyone. Very rarely do you come across an unfamiliar face. While interviewing Christine Brumwell, math teacher and guidance counselor, who has been with BSHS for 40 years, said, "I like it when I go downtown, when I go someplace I always know somebody, and it's nice to never feel lonely."
In 2014, Big Sandy switched from the standard five day school week to a four day week, in hopes to prevent absences that occur due to sports or various other academic activities. The general consensus was that a four day week was better than the previous schedule. This change also benefits those who don't want to play sports; Mace Bachoco, a 7th grader said, "You get to hang out with your family and friends more on the weekends."
Athletics are a large part of the students' lives and spare time in Big Sandy. So much of the school population is dedicated to and involved in at least one sport. A small school makes a team closer; it has people putting aside their differences and working together for the sake of the sport. Emily Wheeler, history teacher and assistant volleyball coach, said, "You really should not take for granted your ability to participate in sports, because in order to participate in sports in even a class B school you really have to be exceptional at it, and that cuts a lot of kids out who are really passionate about it, rather than just naturally capable."
With athletics being so influential on the Hi-line, the identity of small schools often lands mainly on sports. Our school has accomplished so much through academics, and this frequently goes unnoticed. We have kids participating in not only Science Olympiad, but regional and state-wide science fairs annually. Just last year, two thirds of the students who qualified for the International Science fair were from our school. The accomplishments do not stop there. In past years, the music program has taken multiple young musicians to district and state festivals, participants placing anywhere from excellent to superior ratings. We are so lucky to be amongst such talent here, and believe our school's image should be based on these incredible achievements.
All in all, the staff and students at Big Sandy High School are dedicated to making a better future for the school and the community in which it thrives. As devoted members of our student body, we hope to shine a brighter light on the image the students and staff have worked so hard to maintain. Our thanks and appreciation goes out to the community and administration of Big Sandy High School for their efforts in making our home a better, safer place.