Monday, September 26, 2011

Bastrop ISD superintendent offers thanks for help and support

Bastrop and neighboring Smithville ISDs continue to deal with the aftermath of wildfires that devastated their communities and left many of their students and employees without homes. Bastrop Superintendent Steve Murray sent us an open letter today, addressed to the school districts and people of Texas, thanking the many who have offered help and support.

Relief funds for district employees who lost their homes have been established at First National Bank of Bastrop. Donations can be made at any First National Bank location for the Bastrop ISD Employee Relief Fund and the Smithville ISD Employee Relief Fund.

Here's Steve's heartwarming message:

Dear Fellow Texans and Educators,

I am the very proud Superintendent of Schools for the Bastrop Independent School District in Bastrop, Texas. I have served the children and citizenry of Bastrop ISD and Bastrop County for almost two years and while I typically speak to my pride in being the Superintendent for Bastrop ISD and the pride we collectively have for our school district (this year's district theme is a simple yet strong statement of pride - "WE are BISD!"), recently both tragic and heroic events have caused that sense of pride for our school district, our community and this great state to grow exponentially. 

As most people across Texas and across the nation are aware, our county has experienced the most destructive wildfire disaster that Texas has ever experienced. We tragically lost two county residents, had over 1,500 homes and 34,000 acres of land destroyed, have hundreds of families (including many of our precious children) displaced and homeless as a result of these catastrophic fires. In a word, it has been devastating.

Yet, as will often occur out of tragedy, horrific loss and despair - we have experienced an outpouring of love, generosity and concern from thousands of people of all ages in our own community, across the State of Texas and outside our state boundaries from communities large and small nationwide. From classrooms and schools collecting pennies, stuffed animals, toys and school supplies to student councils statewide urging their classmates to give to help others in need to corporate donations; and from neighbors with rakes and sifters to thousands of fire fighters, law enforcement and other first responders and caregivers risking their own safety and lives - we have been the recipients of a tremendous display of humanitarian spirit and selfless acts of service.

Simply saying "Thank You" just doesn't seem appropriate enough - but in so many ways and in so many cases that is simply all that was given and, while not expected by those serving, was simply appreciated and seen as more than enough. 

Prior to Sunday, September 3, 2011, I had served the children of Texas for over thirty years and had witnessed  my fair share of tragic and wonderful things in that time. In the last two weeks or more I have witnessed those extremes in a completely different manner, and with a vantage point that allows one to be awestruck as well at both ends of the spectrum. On Thursday, September 15th, during the halftime of our televised varsity football game between our Bastrop Bears and our friends from San Marcos, I was indeed awestruck and humbled beyond words when over 400 first responders from all over Texas and across the country stood behind me in the middle of our field to receive the applause, cheers and overwhelming expressions of adoration from a packed home side stands filled with students, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles and Bastrop County citizens (many of whom had lost their homes, had been and were still displaced and had spent the past two weeks volunteering to help others). To say that this was an extremely emotional and uplifting experience for all involved would be quite the understatement.

For those not able to be there that special evening and to the thousands of children, parents and school folks, as well as emergency management, law enforcement personnel and first responders across the state and beyond that have touched our lives and blessed us with your kind words, your thoughts and prayers, your gifts and your service - we once again simply say "Thank You."

None of us want to experience anything of this nature during our lives or careers ever again, yet I truly believe that we are all better people for having gone through this experience. We are better because we have heard, seen or experienced the very best in others throughout this ordeal and know that we will continue to hear from and witness such going forward as we work together as a very proud community and school district to recover, restore and rebuild.

Steve Murray
Superintendent of Schools
Bastrop ISD
Bastrop County
Bastrop, Texas

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