Friday, March 28, 2008

Education, Vegas Style

My friend Bob just had the supreme honor of having a new Clark County school named after him. It's a really big deal and couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. He's a Vegas native and a community leader in many ways and he's really quite giddy about all this. It's charming to see.

I missed the school dedication (although the governor, two U.S. Reps, four county commissioners, five of seven school board members and a zillion others did make it.) So Bob took me over there on Thursday. It's a lovely place. Here's Bob with his school.

This wouldn't ordinarily be blog fodder except that I was fascinated and amused by the work the students had done to create a timeline of Las Vegas that coincides with a timeline of Bob's life for the dedication event. It struck me that the icons of Vegas are probably a LOT more interesting and fun for kids to play with than, say, the Native American Tribes of Long Island that I had to slog through as a kid growing up in Syosset.

For instance, how about making a model of the Stratosphere? (Bob is pointing at the bubble that indicated when it was built)...

...or drawing the Mirage's volcano...


...and the Venetian...

...the New York-New York rollercoaster...



...or the Luxor!

Certainly, population growth is as much a part of Vegas recent history as anything else...

...but my favorite part was the wall of money surrounding the "Fabulous Las Vegas" sign!

Oh, and this is fun, too. They also peered a little bit into the future, to note the coming $150 million performing arts center where, evidently, overweight children will sing karaoke...


The kids were awful cute, of course. Each one, in anticipation of the school's dedication ceremony, wrote Bob a letter or a story or something. They were all over the school, see?


And the best I saw was this one. It's from Orlando. I have no idea who Sabrina is, but I just love the second-to-last line of the letter...

...when Orlando hopes Bob succeeds in life!!! Priceless!

5 comments:

mike_ch said...

First of all, congratulations to Bob and his work for the community. What I'm about to say is not intended to take anything away from his accomplishment.

*However...*

You don't even see a SLIGHT cause of concern as children are being given bright, happy, shiny images of casinos? The wall of money seemed to me to remove any doubt that the educators might be avoiding talking about the true purpose of these buildings instead of suggesting that they're only hotels, or some other dance around the fact that they exist for gambling.

Couldn't you do a project on Nevada history, or the desert itself (hello Springs Preserve, which I thought was partly intended to aid schools in giving students a more traditional education on their hometown) instead of making cartoon caricatures of the Strip? Considering what the media says about the performance of CCSD lately, I'd be unsurprised (yet all the same sad) to hear that schoolchildren can identify Strip resorts before they can remember all the planets in the solar system.

THE STRIP PODCAST GUYS said...

Y'know what? I really don't have a hesitation on this. The casinos are an important part of our city and culture. These kids have parents who work in these places and, what, you want them to feel badly about how their parents make their livings? The iconic buildings can be embraced without a discussion of the adult activities to be sure. And while the idea of doing projects on nature and the environment are absolutely great ideas, one doesn't have to be exclusive of the other. The city's modern history is marked by the opening of these resorts and the growth in population. If you're doing a project on that period of time -- as they were in this case -- i don't know how you ignore it. Don't you think the kids in Detroit are taught about the auto business as well as the distant history and culture of Michigan?

I am not a person who believes that gambling is something evil or morally wrong. It is simply something adults do (hopefully) when they've learned about the value of money and decide what they want to spend on their entertainment. If the kids were in Los Angeles and they did a project that looked at the development of the movie business, would you object?

mike_ch said...

Well, I generally have a fairly liberal view of things. I think 19 is a more appropriate age than 21 for gambling and drinking ages.

That said, I would introduce such concepts in a bright, cheery manner to children. If I were to discuss the Strip at an elementary school, I'd stress the hotel, restaurant, theatre, and meeting room functions. I hope and assume that's what they do, minimizing any talk of wagering, the allure of winning money, casino games, etc. There is an uncomfortable "hook 'em while they're young" aspect if that is glamourized.

Because what's more awkward, telling kids whose parents work casino jobs that gambling isn't an appropriate subject for school, or telling kids with an addicted parent(s) that gambling is our friendly neighbour and the lifeblood of the town?

However, I will grant you that I wasn't aware that the focus of the project was on population. Your pictoral made a brief mention of it, but I didn't really understand that it was the focus behind the miniature resort corridor.

mike_ch said...

Whoops, huge mistake there, I meant to say I wouldn't introduce concepts like gambling and drinking in a bright, cheery manner to children.

I mean, I'd hope it's obvious, but just to settle the record...

Anonymous said...

I like that Vegas names its schools after relevant community figures such as Mr. Forbuss. However my pet peeve is how they include every bit of the individual's name. It seems like a bit of overkill.

I'm thinking of the new school that just opened near my home: Sister Robert Joseph Bailey Elementary School.

Too wordy. Couldn't they just call it Bailey Elementary? Or Sister Bailey Elementary?

And do we really have to know that Robert's middle initial is "L"? Would too many people have confused him with the "other" Robert Forbuss otherwise? Are there really that many running around. I think not.