City Life: School district honors military service with new page

The Chicago Public Schools website doesn't have this fantastic page, nor do the websites for the New York City Department of Education, the San Diego Unified School District or the Dallas Independent School District.

You won't find a similar page for the Anne Arundel County Public Schools, which includes Annapolis, Md., home of the U.S. Naval Academy, nor the Academy School District 20 in Colorado Springs, Colo., where the U.S. Air Force Academy is.

And this webpage does not appear on the website for the public schools in West Point, N.Y., home of the U.S. Military Academy.

In fact, you'll have to look very hard to find another school district in the country that has a website with the remarkable page that the Newport-Mesa Unified School District has just created. That page honors the men and women in the school district who have chosen to serve in our Armed Forces.

For far too long, public schools across the country have focused on trying to get high school graduates to attend college. But not all high-schoolers want to or should go to college. And these days, due to rising tuition and expenses, many of them simply can't afford it.

Plus, there are plenty of smart, able kids who can afford college but choose to serve their nation instead.

Until now, until this groundbreaking development by the school district, these brave men and women were worse than forgotten — their judgment was questioned. Many of them were perceived not as defenders of our freedom but as having to join the service because they were out of options.

With one webpage, the Newport-Mesa has restored honor to our local servicemen and servicewomen.

"The page was recommended by a member of our community," said district spokeswoman Laura Boss. "We took it one step further and created a voluntary sign-up registry and a Facebook page as a way to truly keep in touch with our alumni and staff who are currently serving or who have previously served."

The next step is to award honorary high school diplomas to those who dropped out to serve and were honorably discharged, which is allowable under the state education code. I'd like to see those honorary diplomas awarded at board meetings.

Boss said it best: "There is no way to capture what their service to our country means. It seems an appropriate level of recognition is never truly achieved for the sacrifice our servicemen and women and their families make in service to our country.

"But, we can recognize N-MUSD's own by highlighting and sharing their stories with our Newport-Mesa community. The webpage will never be done. It will continue to be enhanced with new information and recommendations."

With just one webpage, our school district has set one of the best precedents for public schools across the country. It is one of the district's finest hours.

Visit the new webpage at, and let those who have served know how much they are appreciated.

STEVE SMITH is a Costa Mesa resident and a freelance writer. Send story ideas to

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