Thumbs up to the Rev. Joe Blackwood for filling in for the big shoes of Willa Jo Fowler.

Fowler recently stepped down from representing the No. 4 seat on the Enid Public Schools Board of Education after moving out of her district.

Fowler, a fixture on the board since 1975, should be congratulated after more than 45 years of community service.

During her tenure, Enid Public Schools saw implementation of full-day kindergarten, bond procurements for early college offerings and — after founding a prior pre-K daycare center, now called the Learning Tree — construction of the Fowler Early Childhood Center, approved in a 2016 issue to build the four-classroom structure on the Northwestern Oklahoma State University-Enid campus.

More thumbs up to Oklahoma Arts and the Military grant to assist Leonardo’s Children’s Museum and Eisenhower Elementary School continue their partnership to provide students with art instruction.

Leonardo’s was one of nine Oklahoma organizations selected for funding through Oklahoma Arts Council, for arts programs designed to serve military communities.

Among the funded programs are guitar lessons for veterans, pottery classes, a play centered on the experience of women in the Vietnam War and online vocal music instruction for residents at a state veterans center.

Tracy Bittle, Leonardo’s executive director, said the $5,000 grant will help fund the Leo’s and Eagles Art Partners (LEAP) program, through which Leonardo’s arts instructors go to Eisenhower, the Enid Public Schools campus that serves elementary school children from Vance Air Force Base.

And, with the grant funding, Bittle said Leonardo’s will be able to bring Eisenhower students to the children’s museum in the spring for pottery classes.

The arts are vitally important and are sadly under-funded in much of our country.

Last, but not, least, thumbs Up (and welcome) to the new education director of the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center.

Neal Matherne comes to Enid with quite an impressive resume and a wealth of knowledge in education and museums.

Matherne comes to Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

At the Field Museum of Natural History, Matherne co-facilitated outreach to the Chicagoland Filipinx community, linking them to the museum’s collection of 10,000 objects from the early 20th century Philippines. Under a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Matherne conducted a two-year study on the relationship between Skidmore’s Tang Teaching Museum and Scribner Library through the use of primary source collections. He also is an ethnomusicologist with an interest in the Philippines and popular music of the United States. He previously taught at the University of the Philippines Diliman, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of California, Riverside.

Studying history is valuable to help with our understanding of contemporary events.

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