Hoping for Obama | Editorial
By MARY L. GRADY
Mercer Island Reporter Editor
May 3, 2011 · 3:13 PM
A drive through the town of Bridgeport, Wash., last Sunday afternoon reveals a town poised in what may be the calm before the storm. A media storm, that is. Although a winner may be revealed before this issue of the Reporter goes to press, this tiny town of 2,409 is one of the final three vying to have President Obama speak at its high school graduation ceremony.
Bridgeport High School, the home of the Mustangs, has only 35 or so graduates, but the town has worked hard to bring those students to the June walk. The town is as far from anywhere as it can be. It lies in the northern border of Douglas County, in north central Washington. The town, 45 minutes northwest of Lake Chelan by car, is perched above the Chief Joseph Dam on the mighty Columbia River, the second largest hydropower dam in the United States. The community is situated on an open plain above the river, a place filled with the rocks, sand and brush of the Columbia Basin desert. Orchards and farms carpet the irrigated land. There is no mall, no McDonalds, no T-Mobile store. There are no fine universities nearby with science labs or museums.
But there is something here. The town, with its wide-set streets and blocks, is quiet and unhurried. Children are out riding their bikes, and men are out mowing the lawn. There are boarded-up buildings, lots of mobile homes, but the majority are tidy, and businesses are open. At the west end of town, a beautiful, nearly new brick high school stands ready for Mr. Obama.
Much has been made of the fact that three-quarters or more of the town residents are Hispanic or Latino and that their incomes are low. But the success of their tiny school district, as evidenced by the new buildings and nearly perfect graduation rate, has come from somewhere. We think it is from the families who live there — who are probably not that much different from parents anywhere. They cherish their children and know firsthand the absolute necessity of a first-class education. They have gained momentum over adversity. We say hooray for them.Contact Mercer Island Reporter Editor Mary L. Grady at email@example.com or (206) 232-1215 ext. 1050.