SAINTS PERSPECTIVE, SCCC President Brad Bennett
Americans turned our clocks forward on Sunday, but I didn’t think much about it: my family left last Thursday for a ski trip. When I woke up at 6 a.m. to head to the office for the work week, I thought that I had slept in — until midmorning, when I realized the time change had occurred. Add the relative quiet feeling of spring break on the campus of Seward County Community College, and the shift “forward” was even less noticeable. The cafeteria continued taking care of our student residents on campus, and baseball, softball, and tennis had several competitions.
Whether we paid attention to it or not, Daylight Savings Time is on us again, and that meant a few less zzzs for everyone this weekend. There's always a lot of debate about whether DST is useful, or the Worst Idea Adopted by Humanity. The fact is that it has its origins in something we are familiar with here at SCCC: a commitment to do the most with what’s available.
Daylight Savings Time was first adopted during World War I as an energy-saving measure. In 1918, Americans united for the war effort, and people were ready to do whatever was needed to support the troops, at least for seven months before DST was repealed.
A generation later, the U.S. reinstated DST, calling it “War Time,” during three years of our engagement in World War II. From 1942 to 1945, Americans once again limited their use of precious resources and energy for the sake of the military.
Finally, in 1966 the country adopted DST on a permanent basis.
It’s never been entirely popular and some states even opt out of the exercise. However, the original idea is rooted in something admirable, especially when it is applied to community efforts that benefit many people.
A tax-supported entity like the college really does belong to its community, and we work hard to keep that principle in mind. We apply that to the most mundane tasks, like purchasing replacement ink cartridges for our printers and tape for our dispensers, documenting credit card use, and purchasing big ticket items like new carpeting or air conditioning units. It is important to shop wisely and maintain accountability.
On the operational front, we also do our best to make the most of what we have. For many years, the college has operated on special summer hours from mid-May to the end of July, working four, 10-hour days Monday through Thursday. By doing so, we’ve been able to close many buildings during high energy-consumption months. The savings adds up.
This year, the board has approved a test schedule of nine-hour days Monday-Thursday, with the option for employees who need to do so to work the full 40. Not only will the overhead costs of maintaining large buildings at a comfortable temperature be lessened, we hope our team will also benefit from more efficient workflow and manageable hours. As always, our supervisors and administration will be tracking the results to ensure we have made the most of the work week.
It is by no means “War Time,” but I like to incorporate smart strategies as often as possible into our Saints calendar. For instance, early spring is the time of year our admissions folks ramp up efforts to help guide graduating high school seniors through the transition to college. This year, we have extra good news to share as we make the circuit on the “Saints Ahead Roadshow” to promote early college classes for the high school underclassmen who will be mapping out their academic plans for the fall. In both cases, timing is everything for students and their families.
Over the summer, SCCC continues to work hard to show up for our community — or should I say, communities. The months of June and July might be hot and windy, but we are undaunted and plan to show up for civic events and parades. I am so proud of our Saints team members who volunteer their time to spread the word about the opportunities we offer.
All good strategies have a long-term view, and Kids College at SCCC might offer the most powerful opportunity to impact young lives as they make their way through a long, hot summer. Every year, we open the college to students from grades 1 to middle school, presenting a weeklong menu of classes in everything from archery to cooking to origami. The experience provides so much value to the community. It’s a mid-summer break for weary parents. It’s a soft and friendly introduction to the idea of college for kids of all ages. It’s a low-stakes entry to many activities and sports that might turn into a lifetime passion.
So, while we are all fighting a little sleepiness every morning, I feel energized when I step back a bit and survey the wider landscape. I often tell our Saints family that we should strive to be a little better every day. Thanks to Daylight Savings Time, we have a bit more light on the path.