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Letter: A commitment to the future

The community of Willmar raised me.

From kindergarten to graduation my education and the development of countless other children was a primary focus for my parents, family, friends, neighbors and teachers. They believed that there was no more important investment than their children and that by offering young people the opportunity to learn, they would positively help shape the future.

I cannot say enough about the care and attention I received in Willmar schools. When the world was exploding with the Cuban missile crisis, the Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations and the Vietnam War, extremely passionate teachers were carefully preparing us for adulthood and giving us the insights and tools to face what was ahead.

My adult life has taken me to places I couldn't possibly have predicted. I have had the good fortune to realize professionally what began in Willmar as a passion for an extra-curricular activity. My work is in the theater.

But, my career benefited not just from doing plays after school. The exposure I received to science, literature, social studies, art, debate, shop and athletics gives me the comprehensive understanding needed to do my work well.

I have had the privilege to work closely with some of the greatest playwrights of the last century -- Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Tony Kushner and Suzan-Lori Parks, to name a few -- all of whom without exception point to their childhood education as the primary and critical factor in their success.

Somehow, in the past few decades, some of this important ideal has been jeopardized. Severe funding cuts have limited curriculum, increased class sizes and overburdened educators. In many instances, art, music and theater have been dropped completely. In times of economic stress it is important to remember and safeguard what is truly important. Without a full commitment to the present there will be no future, at least not the one we would hope for the next generation.

As you go to the polls, vote for the quality of your lives and those of your children. This is not an issue to be compromised. Please help keep Willmar education strong!