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The LEAP Student Blog

Gunnar Aune, Colfax HS: "Small Town Opportunities"

Author: Gunnar Aune
Grade: Junior
School: Colfax
Mascot: Bulldogs
League: Bi-County
Classification: 2B

Small Town Opportunities

For my entire life I’ve lived in a town with a population barely over 300. From preschool all the way through 6th grade, I had the same 4 kids in my grade. The school was one level, and some classes had two to three grade levels together. The entire school would meet for assemblies and not even fill up half of the room.  Everyone in the school knew each other, their parents, and where each other lived. That’s how life was, and we didn’t think anyone lived differently. But in 7th grade my family decided to move schools 30 miles up the road to Colfax. As a 13 year old that has been with the same handful of kids my entire life, the thought of going to the “big” 2B school was mind-blowing. A school almost the size of my hometown was gigantic and terrifying. Having to remember the names of my 45 other classmates seemed impossible. But as the years passed by, I realized that not too much differs between “B” schools. Both schools showed tremendous support through sports, school, and programs outside of the classroom.

Like many small schools, some of Colfax’s biggest extra-curricular activities are it’s sports programs. Because of the size of the school, Colfax can only offer a handful of clubs. For this reason, a good percentage of Colfax students turn out for sports every year. The number of students involved, along with our amazing coaching staff and support from the community, allows us to continue to succeed throughout the sports year. Playing sports in a small community gives athletes a chance to make closer bonds with their coaches. I personally know all of my coaches outside of sports, and look up to them as role models in all aspects of life. This bond between players and coaches not only raises team chemistry but gives teams a higher level of trust. This bond with coaches and teammates is what continues to bring us success. Another way that sports are supported in “B” schools is through the community. No matter what sport is competing on a certain day, the Colfax bleachers are almost always full. Whether they’re bundled up in the cold for football games, or trying to find some shade during baseball, community support is one of the best things that makes living in a small town unique.

Within small schools, there are not too many options for extracurricular activities. At Colfax, FFA, FCCLA, FBLA, NHS and Jazz Band are offered as clubs beyond the school day. Our FFA, FCCLA, and FBLA chapters continue to succeed, and have opportunities to send kids to nationals every year. I credit our success to the support given to us by our advisors and administration. Our advisors go above and beyond every year to educate Colfax’s students and help them grow. My FFA advisor stays in his classroom until 8:00 p.m. throughout the year practicing competitions with students, along with helping them in their classes. The advisors are also extremely flexible when it comes to students participating in multiple clubs. During my high school career, I’ve participated in 4 sports, FFA, FCCLA, ASB, NHS, and our Jazz Band. Small schools give students the opportunity to so as much as they want and succeed in everything they do. Colfax may be known for sports, but they also have an award winning Jazz Band. Every year, our Jazz Band travels around Washington and Oregon competing against 2A, 3A, and 4A schools. And against the odds, our band comes home with top place finishes. Our success is not only contributed to our Hall of Fame inducted director, but to the students in the band. Most schools have the “band kids” and the “jocks” living completely different lives. But Colfax’s band is the complete opposite. Over half of the band members play at least one sport throughout the year. The first-chair trombone is our starting halfback, and our first-chair tenor saxophone starts on both our volleyball and basketball teams. Our band director is even the head football coach. Opportunities like this are seldom seen in larger schools, and it’s another one of the reasons that small schools give students a chance to try anything.

Even though our towns may only have only a couple stop lights and attractions, I wouldn’t trade life here for anything. The support given to students by communities and school administration and staff in small town schools can’t be matched. Many people feel sorry for small town kids, but we small town kids are grateful and blessed by the opportunities and life lessons our schools and communities have afforded us.

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