Kids across the community are waking up this morning to begin their first day of the new school year at District 91 and in all likelihood they won’t be the only ones with first-day jitters. Aug. 29 is also Lou Cavallo’s first day of school, well; at least it’s his first day of classes as the new superintendent.

Since the start of July, Cavallo has been working with various staff members in preparation for the 2007-08 school year after being hired to oversee the district in the wake of Randolph Tinder’s retirement. Not only is Cavallo trying to acclimate himself to the district, he is learning the strengths and weaknesses of our public schools and is looking for ways to make improvements.

Parents, community members, district staff and the school board should seize this opportunity.

In several interviews with the Review, Cavallo has pledged to take a serious look at what appears to be a widening gap in the performance of white students versus minority students in the district.

The new superintendent has also heard the rumblings in the community about the middle school. Regardless of whether the discontent over student behavior is based more on perception than reality, Cavallo has expressed a commitment to addressing those concerns.

But the superintendent’s ability to understand and address these issues will be largely dependent on the willingness of others to help. Parents need to embrace their role as educators and become active participants in the schools. The school board must be willing to have an actual dialogue, even if it means confronting uncomfortable topics in front of the public. And teachers will have to buy into whatever adjustments might be asked of them.

Every student starts a new school year with new responsibilities, new challenges and new opportunities for success. The same can easily be said of those responsible for the schools. Here’s hoping we all make the best of our opportunities.

What would you do with $27?

Rarely would a $27 donation be a noteworthy contribution, but 9-year-old Sydney Gray could probably teach a great many of us a thing or two about generosity. Earlier this summer, Gray opened up a sidewalk lemonade stand with the help of her parents and donated the proceeds to a local non-profit to help the homeless.

For most of us, $27 doesn’t buy a tank of gas and wouldn’t be seen as an incredible sum of money. Even a few trips to see your favorite barista will drain that account in no time. But to an individual who is for whatever reason incapable of providing for themselves, $27 is food and clean laundry.

The sum of Sydney Gray’s donation is almost irrelevant. The most important part of this story is that a young girl who could easily have spent her afternoon at the pool or in front of the TV decided instead to help someone who enjoys almost none of those options.

Correction

A photo in the Religion section of the Aug. 15 Review was incorrectly identified as the St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Forest Park. The published photo was of a similarly named church located outside of Forest Park.