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Op-Ed: What Would Covington Look Like if We Embraced Our Kids?

I recently read the book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam.   

The author of this New York Times bestseller follows his 1959 high school graduating class from Port Clinton, Ohio. He discovered his class as a whole was successful. However, the kids and grandkids of his classmates seemed to have less opportunity to improve on that success. Hard work and talent were not paying off. This opportunity gap reminded me Covington and our students in Covington Independent Public Schools.

I thought, what a great opportunity we have here. I wondered aloud what Covington would look like if we embrace our kids. What kind of success would they have? What effect would this have in our everyday lives? What would be our legacy?  

When I was growing up, thriving communities were synonymous with successful schools - each affecting the other in a positive way. Many of you may say you have no stake here - no children or family attending school. On paper, I have no stake either, but I submit to you if you live, work, or have a business in our city, our kids’ future success is important to you. Their prosperity intertwines with ours. Our kids need more opportunity not less. Our community can be instrumental in bridging this gap and making a profound difference.

If all children in Covington had a caring adult in their lives, the influence would be tremendous. I implore you to consider making a difference in the life of a young person by becoming a lunch buddy, tutor, or mentor. If you own a business, consider internships, mentorships, and looking at opportunities to provide meaningful part-time work for our kids. If you are involved in a church or other organization, consider adopting a class. Learn about the great things happening in your neighborhood schools. Attend a sporting event, art display, or concert. Just asking a child walking to and from school, “how was your day?” makes a difference. Believe me, this simple gesture can be the beginning of a friendship. I have experienced this firsthand.

I can talk about our kids all day. I would love to talk with anyone interested in continuing the conversation. Please contact me and we can meet for coffee at one of the great shops here in Covington. Pop by the house; our door is figuratively and literally, always open. From Latonia to the Ohio, from the Licking to Devou, let us wrap our arms around OUR KIDS.  We have the power to strengthen our community and support our youth to ensure that their future is not left to chance.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Covington were recognized as one of those thriving communities with successful schools? CIPS – Community Inspires Prosperous Students.

Tom Wherry is a member of the Covington Board of Education