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Kontos Column: It’s almost time to choose a school board–Hollywood style

By Dan Kontos

April 5 is right around the corner, and we will, among other things, be going to the polls to select four members of the Stevens Point School Board. Who should we vote for?

The choices are important, as the implications for our district, children, and community have serious ramifications that ripple outside of the classroom. We cannot afford to take this lightly. Or can we?

In these “unprecedented” times (I think I just threw up a little in my mouth), what better way to look for wisdom and guidance than to turn to the masters of fantasy and illusion. Of course, I am referring to Hollywood. Stick with me.

Usually, the choices for school board members are a boring palate of shades of gray sorting themselves out in the background of other local races. I know, I was once the charcoal candidate myself.

This time we seem to have the emergence of two distinct camps to compare and contrast. While some may choose to insist on a more serious and individualized comparison of the eight candidates, and I heartedly applaud you for that, most people seem to be looking for a more streamlined approach to select the contestants that best fit their expectations for the position in a more expeditious way. Please allow me to do just that.

With that, imagine, if you will, that you step into a theater with a single ticket on classic movie night. As the smell of buttered popcorn fills the lobby, you see that you have two choices from the selection that evening. To the left, the sign above the doors beckons you to enter through them for that 1948 cinematic classic, Fort Apache.

As your eyes swing back right, past the counters full of M&Ms, Raisinsets, and Jujyfruits, you spy the doors to the other theater. The white neon-backed sign flickers as it calls for you to be seated to again enjoy that science fiction classic, Star Wars: A New Hope.

How do you choose? Which do you prefer? Has Kontos finally lost his mind? You’ll have to watch until the credits to see.

Of course, we’ll check out the movie posters located outside each set of enticing double doors. They can surely help us decide.

First, Fort Apache. The story of the American Army, pushing west into uncivilized lands. Bringing with it stability, order, and civilization. Doing what they must do to tame a brutal and dangerous countryside.

Our cast, known well to many, as they are the incumbents, or at least establishment candidates, stars Jeff Ebel as Lt. Col. Owen Thursday (originally played by Henry Fonda), Rob Manzke as Capt. Kirby York (John Wayne), Barb Portzen as Philadelphia Thursday (Shirley Temple), and with special guest star Dennis Raabe as Sgt. Maj. Michael O’Rourke (Ward Bond).

Our star-studded, very talented, and undeniably experienced cast defend Fort Bliss (as in the Bliss Center) from the rabble who would fight against progress, and all of the gains they have made thus far. Who are these uninformed savages looking to tear down the walls? Why, they are the anti-maskers, the public speakers, the parental choice crowd, and those who refuse to follow the science.

Here they come! Katy, bar the door! They demand to be heard. Stand fast behind the locked massive wooden gates of Fort Bliss. Hold on and throw them a few laptops and beads. That should keep them quiet. The law won’t touch us here. The children and staff must be protected at all costs, to the very last man. It’s a desperate but righteous stand for our community.

You can almost hear the din of the bugle now, and the flapping of that tattered American flag still blowing in the wind.

On the other side, Star Wars. In episode four of this trilogy of trilogies made back in 1977, a plucky band of outsiders takes on the full might of the Galactic Empire (read School District) in a desperate attempt to restore liberty to an otherwise oppressed universe. They fight to return democracy and transparency to the Galactic Senate (read School Board).

The performers for this picture stars relative newcomers Alex Sommers as Luke Skywalker (originally played by Mark Hamill), Jennifer Bushman as Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), and Miguel Campos as Han Solo (Harrison Ford). These are the so-called “ABC candidates,” and are joined by special guest star Kari Prokop as Aunt Beru (Shelagh Fraser).

Our cast of unknowns, at least at this point in their careers, fight overwhelming odds with just a few blasters at their disposal. As the Empire seeks to force every child to wear stormtrooper helmets and stand at least one light saber’s length apart, our protagonists concoct a plan against desperate odds, to foil the dark side of the Farce, and defeat the evil Darth Fauci and those who follow him.

While several attempts to take down the Bliss Star have failed (as in the Death Star; see what I did there again), one last frantic attempt is mounted. Using their puny X-wing fighters, our out-manned and out-gunned daredevils resort to firing a proton torpedo down a previously unknown ventilation shaft (referred to as the ballot box) against almost impossible odds.

As they close in on their target, many of the rebels are swatted out of space one by one from the seemingly impenetrable defenses of the Bliss Star. Public comment periodsBOOM, destroyed. Open meetings complaintsBAM, obliterated. Recall attemptPOW, vaporized. It seems hopeless.

How will the elections end? During the recent spring primary, the top vote-getter received less than 1,100 votes more than the last place contender who was forced out, leaving only eight. In an election with just over 25,800 votes total, that’s less than 8.6 percent of the ballots cast. Not very much.

So, who will win? Right now, it’s anyone’s guess. You’ll have to watch the movie to see it. By the way, both films end the same way, just from different points of view. 

Where will you spend your ticket, or will you sit this one out?

So, with that, let’s meet in the opinion section to talk about all of it, boldly, unafraid, and with a healthy respect for each other. Until then, God bless.

Dan Kontos is a paid columnist for the Metro Wire. He chooses his own topics and his opinions do not necessarily represent the staff of the Metro Wire. He lives with his family in Whiting. 

We are seeking a liberal columnist. Anyone with interest should email [email protected].