Athens Review, Athens, Texas

May 22, 2013

Going to ‘WAR’

South Athens taking focused approach

Jeff Riggs
The Athens Review

ATHENS — A program termed “We Are Responsible” was generated this year at South Athens Elementary School by its principal, Eugene Buford.

At first reading, the slogan appears to be for the school’s students.  But, after looking at the slogan and noting that the abbreviation is WAR, Buford says the slogan is for educators.

“Our motto this year has been WAR. I believe we are at war in education,” Buford said. “We are at war against ignorance and apathy. The definition for those two words are, ‘I don’t know and I don’t care,’ the last of which are the most dangerous words in education. When students reach the point that they don’t care  about their education, their success is in great jeopardy. We want to be proactive in our students’ education and help them be successful.”

Buford said WAR is a strong word to be used in a school, but the word chosen is based on the poem, “We Are Responsible,” which is posted on the SAE website. Buford said Responsibility has been the school’s theme this year, and everyone has been involved.

“This year we asked our students to ‘Find Your Voice.’  This is based on the book, ‘The Leader in Me’ by Stephen R. Covey.

Buford said that in the book, Covey takes his ‘Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’ and applies them to young people.

“Our students examined ways they can improve themselves as individuals by using Covey’s concepts: Be proactive; Begin with the End in Mind; Put First Things First; Think Win-Win; Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood; Synergize; and Sharpen the Saw.

“I tell kids all the time, ‘You have to act with the end in mind,’” Buford said. “Life needs to be lived backwards, but we have to go forward.  We can’t make the same mistakes.”

Buford said the problems are not as predominant at the elementary level.

“We don’t run into that stuff like the high school will,” he said. “We’ve got to keep everybody focused on the importance – even kids that live in the worst homes and worst neighborhoods.”

In the poem, which appeared in a 1988 issue of American Family Magazine, “We Are Responsible,” with an unknown author, to which Buford alluded, there are line-after-line of those things we are adults are responsible for in children.

The last words in the poem cited by Buford, and perhaps those which sum up our responsibilities as adults read as follows:

“We are responsible for children who want to be carried and for those who must,

For those we never give up on and those who don’t get a second chance,

For those we smother, and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.”