Here are a few thoughts that hit me Friday night while I watched Belle Fourche and Custer play boys and girls basketball games.

I know folks in Newell and Buffalo figure Belle Fourche is a pretty big school system. By a lot of standards, almost all of our South Dakota school systems are pretty small.

Then when compared to schools in Rapid City and Sioux Falls, Belle, Sturgis and Spearfish are relatively small operations.

The advantage to the small school is that most kids have a chance to try stuff they'd never have an opportunity to try in a bigger school.

Without our size-based classification system, nine out of ten times the bigger schools will win athletic tournaments and other competitions.

With a bigger student pool, there almost certainly will be more talented kids.

There also will be a big majority of kids in bigger schools who are not great talents. They're watching the talented kids.

Newell and Belle Fourche have pretty high percentage of their high school population involved in sports, music, clubs and other activities.

Some are very talented at this or that - but most aren't. Yet they know what it's like to be a basketball player, a band member, a singer - or to take a role in this or that activity to make good things happen.

These are opportunities that most youngsters in bigger school systems simply do not have.

Extra-curricular activities add to the richness of what a kid can learn, and not just stuff required to graduate or to pass a college or military entrance exam,

Most of us were not outstanding at sports or music or science.

Almost all of us can tell stories why those activities are still important in our lives today.

Small school science club kids might learn they are not likely candidates for rocket scientist. Their math, although easily good enough to balance a checkbook, won't make it to figure rocket trajectories to Mars.

That's a good lesson as each looks at a possible future. It's a lesson that we always can catch our opportunities to learn things about ourselves.

Most of us in smaller towns can at least try most available activities. If it's at all possible, most of us do try what we can. Most of us don't realize at the time just how much we have learned.

Kids active in school tend to be active as adults in doing good things for themselves and in doing good things for others.

What makes a kid a "success?" In 1,000 years few of us will be listed in history books.

What is success anyway?

It might just be that a kid grows to know that he or she can do a lotta different stuff. They know they can enjoy a lotta those abilities at their own level and can contribute to others.

Heck, a lot of us have gray hair and still know that we can do a lotta different stuff at our own level and enjoy it.

I think our small town high schools just might have something to do with that.


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