Foundation Forum: Thanks for giving

History suggests that when the Wilton pilgrims sat down to celebrate those early Thanksgiving feasts, they had much for which to be thankful. I suspect they were thankful not to have electricity that suddenly could be lost with each passing storm; I bet they were thankful for not having to endure presidential election campaigns; and I’m certain they gave thanks for surviving death-defying leaps off the edges of cliffs (fiscal or otherwise).

I also envision them sitting at their big dinner table (now known as the Schoolhouse Café) and giving thanks for those four giant parcels of land that would later become the core of the Wilton community — our school system.

Fast forward 1,000 years later — give or take a century; my knowledge of history isn’t so strong, since I was not educated in Wilton. We contemporary Wiltonians have another great opportunity to pause and give thanks — this time, for what is taking place in our schools. Many of us moved to and stay in Wilton because of our schools. We know — and have come to expect — that Wilton’s school system maintains its status as one of the best in the country. A quick snapshot of the numbers tells the story:

•Middlebrook is a U.S. Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School.

•Connecticut Magazine ranked Wilton schools second in the state.

•Fifty-four percent of the Class of 2011 were accepted to Most and Highly Competitive Colleges.

•Wilton schools received the 2011 Connecticut Arts Administrators Association (CAAA) Award for Excellence in Art Education.

•Nine Middlebrook and seven Wilton High School students were recognized as 2011-12 Scholastic Art Award Winners.

•The Class of 2011’s SAT mean performance was ranked #1 in Connecticut in reading and writing and #5 in math.

•Eight WHS 2010-11 student musicians were selected All-Region and four were selected All-State.

•One hundred seventeen students from WHS Classes of 2011 and 2012 were named Advanced Placement Scholars.

•Four Middlebrook students were recognized as State Science Fair winners for 2011.

•The Class of 2011 had nine National Merit Finalists.

•For the Class of 2011, 94.4% enrolled in two- or four-year colleges with a 97% graduation rate.

•Miller-Driscoll School received the USDA Healthier U.S. School Challenge Bronze Award.

•The Class of 2018 — Grade 5 CMT Performance at Mastery Level (Math 94%; Reading 89%; Writing 84%; Science 90%).

We didn’t get here by chance. The partnership between parents, students, teachers, administration, and the community has been in place for a long time. These results are a testament to the commitment of all the stakeholders in this process, and it’s something for which we should all be grateful. While we have access to amazing resources in our district, one should not overlook our ability to put these resources to use in building a model of academic excellence for the entire country to take notice.

The best way to recognize the accomplishment of all of the participants in this wonderful process is to double down on our commitment to academic excellence in our community. Each and every one of us — whether we have students in the schools or not — has the opportunity to be an active participant in continuing to improve this incredible community asset. Whether it’s through volunteering time, attending Board of Education meetings, donating money — all of us have a chance to make a difference in the lives of these students and our community. Let’s not take for granted what we have achieved with Wilton’s school system, but instead, let’s find ways to improve and continue the pursuit of this academic excellence that is at the center of community.

Finally, if you want to see a name and face representing the statistics sampled above — look no further than Wilton High School senior Casey Pearsall, who has been named one of the 12 national finalists for the 2012 Wendy’s High School Heisman award celebrating her hard work, dedication and exceptional records in athletics, academics and community leadership. Casey is a great example of what we have to be thankful for — an incredible product of talent and brains, supported by a wonderful family, taught by amazing teachers and coaches, provided resources by a strong administration and supported by a community that makes academic excellence a priority.

On behalf of all of us at the Wilton Education Foundation, thank you for supporting our work, our schools and, most importantly, our amazing students.