Veterans Day time to reflect on freedoms we have fought for

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For me, Veterans Day is a particularly good time to reflect on unity and a chance to say thank you to the people who have fought to uphold the democratic ideals our country stands for.

Daily it seems that there are instances of intolerance in the news. Even though we cannot control what is happening in the country and the world around us, we do have the choice of how we treat each other in our own school, in our own community.

A large priority for Whitefish Schools is the issue of diversity and tolerance — encouraging our students and staff to view the world through the lenses of other people. Everyone has his or her own lens that we see the world through. But to recognize that it is often a biased lens, based on your own frame of reference, is an important insight.

To be globally minded, we have to think beyond our own personal frames of reference. Our students will go out into a broader world where they will interact and engage with people from a variety of different backgrounds and circumstances. The environment we create in our schools will set a certain lens for the future of these students.

Sometimes we forget about the diversity that exists right here in Whitefish and how we might treat each other based on those differences. Our interactions really impact each other, even in small ways we don’t realize. The more I reflect, it all comes back to relationships.

As a school, as a community, and as a nation, no matter what our differences of opinion may be, kindness, respect, and dignity must be at the forefront of all our interactions. Freedom carries responsibility — and that is the beauty of being a citizen of the United States. We are fortunate to be part of a strong, supportive, and vibrant community that honors and celebrates these ideals.

Whitefish Schools bases our learning environments in rigor, relevance, and relationships. But above all we are a welcoming environment that embraces students, staff, and families of all backgrounds and circumstances. Compassion, open-mindedness, acceptance, and kindness are values we hold in the highest regard.

On Veterans Day, we honor the sacrifices that our country’s men and women in the armed forces have given us to ensure our nation’s security and the freedoms we enjoy. Let’s also take a moment to open our minds up to viewing the world through other lenses. Protecting diversity in all its forms is the foundation our veterans have fought to defend.

Heather Davis Schmidt is the Superintendent of Whitefish School District.

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