Kennett’s story is about the people who make Kennett a good, a great and sometimes continue to show up to make Kennett the Kennett we know in his essence. There is no doubt that the KCSD board is part of the team’s first team. I’m proud of the board, and while I will miss outgoing president Joe Meola, who has moved, I believe his replacement, Vicki Gehrt, is probably the most qualified school board president in the state.

In my next four editorials, I’ll interview and write about the four board members who won the November 2, 2021 election so that I can introduce you to these amazing people in more detail. They are Vicki Gehrt, Mark Bowden, Lenda Carrillo and Ethan Cramer. All of them have had experience as members of school boards or other organizations.

My take on the job is that it’s pretty thankless. Lots of meetings and homework. You might find that there are some people who really don’t like you because you are a board member and they tell you and they have no idea who you are and why. you do it for free. But if you want to make Kennett a better place, this is the place to start. In some school districts, board members are asked to choose between keeping children safe and providing them with a good education.

My first interview is Mark Bowden, a professional writer, and on his second tour of service on the board. Mark was living in the borough when he first won an election, then he moved a few houses across the street and ended up in another school district and had to retire. He ran again in the new quarter and won again.

Mark came to the school board because he had retired from teaching at the University of Delaware and wanted to continue participating in the life of the community and especially the next generation, so the school board is came and he said; “Yes.”

He has a well-deserved reputation thanks to his books “Black Hawk Down” and “Hue 1968”. I thought the New York Times comment that he was “a master of narrative journalism” told his story. Think of Dostoyevsky and Hemingway who were also journalists, but he’s more modern and in the company of John McPhee, Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis.

Mark’s decision to return to the board for four more years is a real gift to the community. I am an engineer and believe that preparing our children for their future careers begins and ends with skills in STEM and especially in engineering. Yet I believe that the most important skill offered in our school system today is the ability to put our thoughts into words and our words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs.

Ms Merrick was Mark’s high school English teacher at Kennett and she posted her first short story after heavily editing it. He became an engineer in part because he thought he was not very good at languages. He thanked Ms. Eshelman, the KHS librarian, who taught him to love books.

Mark was one of eight children and grew up in Timonium, Maryland. He attended Dulaney High School, characterized as a Blue Ribbon school and ranked # 259 in the country. He majored in English at Loyola University in Baltimore with the goal of becoming a writer.

He began his journalism career with the Baltimore News-American and the Philadelphia Inquirer. He became national correspondent for “The Atlantic”. Mark has always considered himself to be a writer. He felt very lucky that his book “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War” was made into a great movie by Jerry Bruckheimer and Ridley Scott and was nominated for four Oscars and won two.

He moved to Kennett in 2014 and writes most of his writing in the morning.

I asked Mark how well we were preparing our kids to be writers and he said he really didn’t know where the Kennett kids were. Overall, he believes from his school board experience that the district provides an excellent education. He says that as a professor at the University of Delaware he felt that many of his students there were very capable and relatively well prepared to become writers. He said he found the plays and performances that Kennett’s students put on to be generally top notch.

He sees that the main job of the school board is to bring up politics and possibly to advocate at the county and state level for the resources of the school.

He looks forward to the next four years, working with this school board team to learn more about the kind of goals they should have to help achieve those goals.

“Kennett’s Story – Shaping the Future, One Child at a Time” Bob George and Joan Holliday’s book on Kennett can be purchased on Amazon and at the Mushroom Cap or Resale Book Shoppe in Kennett. You can contact Bob at [email protected]


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