Well, it seems the students from Muheim School and I opened a can of worms, opening up discussions about the Smithers noon-time siren.
An honest and rather innocent question on the students’ part about the need for the noon-time siren, led not only to an editorial and then a web poll, but a consensus from most Smithereens that the siren that blasts at noon every day is a tradition most want to keep.
When the kids expressed their concern that the siren scares some of the children from immigrant families moving to Smithers from war-torn countries, I thought it was a great question, thoughtful and considerate of them. I encouraged them to write letters to town council with their question as a way to be involved with local government. I wrote about it in my column, and man did it blow up from there.
After the editorial was published on the history of the siren and the continued necessity of it, (it is supposedly blown off to test the system every day), we received hundreds of comments about the tradition of the siren from Smithers folks. Interesting that a test has become a tradition, but fair enough.
So, I decided to let readers have a say on the noon-time siren by way of the web poll. Holy smokes, did they ever vote.
As of Friday, 1,547 had weighed in. Of those, 1,176 voted to continue the tradition of blasting the siren at noon, 145 voted to get rid of it, 134 voted to only use the siren during an emergency, 77 thought changing the sound would be a good compromise, and 15 voted “other.”
As a side note to all of this, almost as many people voted in the web poll as the municipal elections recently.
Looks like the tradition should stand, going by majority rules, which is cool with me. What I’m more excited to do is go back to the kids at school, and talk about all of this, and what the power of a question can do.
Good for all of you for helping. I’m wondering what the kids will think. Of course, I will not share the comments that were rude and completely insensitive, of which there were many.
But what I want the kids to know is that many people suggested great ideas on helping their new friends at the school and in the country understand what the noon-time siren has come to mean to those in our community.
It started out as a necessary test, and has turned into something our residents have come to love, enjoy, and now consider a tradition. Many said it told them when to eat lunch, others said it was a reminder of time during the day. Many have heard it all their lives, and don’t want it to change. When people had the chance to express their feelings, they voted in this poll in numbers I’ve not seen on any other web poll question.
I think when I go back to talk to the kids about what I found out, I will have information the kids may find helpful in explaining what this noon-time siren is all about in Smithers.
It may bring memories of terror from war-torn countries, but hopefully the kids will find a way to explain to their new friends, it is something most people welcome here, and in this new town and country they live in it is welcomed and not to be feared.
This may take some time to adjust to, but my bet is on the kids. If anyone can adapt to change, they can.