Breaking Away

Idaliaís students may have only one school, but at least itís theirs.

"Everyone's got to have a sticker they can put on an idea."

But whatever the challenges, Rittenhouse's students are ready.

The pending deconsolidation is the topic of discussion in Rittenhouse's senior government class. The tables are situated in a U shape so that the seventeen students can face each other. Rittenhouse is a firm but gentle teacher; he never tells his students they're wrong, but he presses them to think critically.

He throws out the first question: "People in Denver might say, 'Why not close that stupid little school in Idalia and spend that extra money on Littleton?'"

"They have to realize our situation out here," offers one student. "If we were sent to Wray, we'd have to drive thirty miles to get to our after-school jobs."

"I think you'd lose on that," Rittenhouse says. "They'd say, 'Why not stay in Wray after school and get a job there instead of driving home first?'"

"This school is the heart of the community," says Khang Chim. "You break up the school, you break up the community."

"Why haven't people in other places, such as big cities, done what we've done for our school?" Rittenhouse asks.

"I think people in urban areas are complacent. If they could see what this rinky-dink town has done, maybe it would put them in their place," Chim says.

"This community came together because we know each other," says Kyle Reeves. "If someone says they're going to do something, they're going to do it. Because if they don't, everyone knows who they are."

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