LUKSHAITIS: What we do well?

By Matt Lukshaitis

Pine River Area Schools Superintendent

We recently had a group of professionals tour our building and one of them asked, “So, what are you proud of at Pine River? What do you do well?” My mind starting whirling and clicking trying to bring forth the appropriate, off-the-cuff yet perfect superintendent answer. While searching for the right words, another person from the group reworked the question and said, “What is it that makes Pine River stick out?” That was easier. Plus, it helped me answer the first question.

I started talking about technology and how well we integrate it into our curriculum. But then a thought came to me and I knew I was on a better track.

“We are a tight knit group,” I said. “My daughter Krista is a senior. She loves this high school. She loves this school district. The students here allow other kids to move in here, to become part of the student body. They don’t worry about cliques. I have seen very little bullying here.” I’m not sure I’ve seen any, actually. I explained then to the group that most of our teaching staff is local. That we are all proud to be Pine River Bucks.

Mrs. Miller, our high school principal and Pine River alumnus, then chimed in and said, “Many of our teachers either graduated from Pine River, Evart, Marion, Reed City or Cadillac. All that local talent coming back makes us who we are, makes us care more. Coach Goodenow is a Pine River graduate. Basketball is just starting and there is an expectation of great things from our kids. Football just ended and we were on a hot streak, winning two playoff games and capturing a district championship. Terry Martin is the coach. He is a graduate. We have an Algebra II teacher next to this office who graduated from here. Another math teacher next to him, he graduated from here. His brother, the varsity girls basketball and varsity baseball coach (Shawn Ruppert), he graduated from here….” Kim went on to list off many more. (Note: 49.15% of Pine River’s professional staff graduated from Pine River, Reed City, Cadillac, Marion, Manton, McBain or Evart. The percentage from the high school is much higher.)

And we talked about the cafeteria which serves as a wrestling room out of necessity. Despite the success of our wrestling program, that is what we have.

“We have mats on the floor and up against the kitchen doors, but we work with it. Coach Tim Jones makes it work. We make it work,” I told the group.

If I could sum up Pine River Area Schools from an attitudinal point of view, one that would probably serve well would be just: “We make it work.”

We care about each other. We make it work. Our students are real. These walls are real. The world is real. Life throws obstacles at us all. So what. We make it work. Pine River Area Schools is all about “we, not me.” We honor the individual and accept them. Go Green, Go White. What do we do well? We do the concept of “us,” well, the concept of “we, not me, it’s all about the team.”