Samuel Cross doesn’t believe anyone who tries to say he got a worse education because he went to a small school.
The soon-to-be Collins-Maxwell graduate said he appreciates the education he’s received at Collins-Maxwell.
“I don’t believe it’s worse than any school around here. Everyone sometimes says they think it’s worth less than that of a bigger school, but I don’t think that’s true at all, and a lot of people in bigger schools would probably agree with me.”
Furthermore, Cross didn’t buy into the hype that his school district would close when others seemed to worry about its future.
“I am extremely proud of Collins-Maxwell as a school district. Everyone was freaking out and jumping ship and transferring to other schools like five years ago once they heard about the possibility of our school not combining sports or even schooling with Baxter,” he recalled.
But despite the negativity, “I never bought into any of that,” he said.
And when the official end of the sports sharing agreement happened between C-M and Baxter, “our school and staff and students and parents and everyone else in the community came together and really gave us a great start. Our school rebranded itself well and the community members all supported everything. So yes, I am really proud of us as a school district. This place has undergone a lot of turnovers, especially the second semester of my freshman year to all the way through my sophomore year. There were so many tragic events and changes that this school had to overcome, and we all did very successfully… I think the end result in the last two years has been amazing and great work by everyone involved.”
Cross said the difficulties and discussions the school was having in its recent past go back to his seventh-grade year. “Everyone acted like this school wouldn’t exist in five years, but everyone really came together and helped out with starting our own sports program. (People) donated money and helped staff every job at sporting events that needed help. Really, the community as a whole has had a positive influential impact on my time in school.”
Cross has been involved in school with things he’s enjoyed. “I’ve been a football manager my junior and senior years. I’ve also been a boys’ and girls’ basketball manager/stat keeper my junior and senior years. Then for track, I’ve been a boys’ track manager my junior and senior years. I also helped broadcast football games for CMB on a live streaming site called ‘The Cube’ my freshman year…”
And he’s going to miss it all, especially the sports. “After my sophomore year, when we officially started to become Spartans, I went to every summer football lifting and practice and looked forward to our first-ever football season. Now almost two years later, I realize I’m not going to be a part of those teams anymore, but they were great teams to be around, whether they were successful or not. There was nothing I looked forward to more in school than going to a football game on Friday night, and every basketball game too. I loved seeing our school compete and represent itself and get a couple of rivalries going.”
When it came to school, Cross said two teachers have impacted him most. “Mr. Lewis has always encouraged positivity and having him as a P.E. teacher all the way through elementary school and then a coach in middle school and now a coach in high school, I’ve been around him a lot and he has always remained positive. Mr. Billerbeck is another one who’s been fun, he’s relatable and a good coach. I’ve had him for two different kinds of social studies classes and as a football and track coach.”
As far as favorite classes, Billerbeck was the instructor of one of those, current events. “Current events was fun to me because we played a current events trivia game every Friday, with the entire class in teams.” And Cross was on top of current events so thoroughly that Mr. Billerbeck had to create a rule that he couldn’t answer for his team as much. “We still won just about every game.”
His other favorite class was “hippie history” with Mr. Stover during his sophomore year. “Hippie history is actually called something like ‘American history ’60s, ’70s and ’80s” but focuses a lot on the ’60s and early ’70s and has a lot to do with the counterculture and the Vietnam war. I thought it was very interesting and Mr. Stover made the class pretty fun. There were a lot of smaller things that went into that class that was really enjoyable.”
For younger students who wonder about the challenges of high school, Cross said, “The advice I would give to younger students is to just relax and do your work on time. High school is the best compared to middle school and elementary school. It’s so much more laid back and you are trusted to make your own decisions. So as long as you don’t cause problems and do your work, it will feel a lot more comfortable and you’ll have a lot more privileges, like open campus and stuff which are really nice.”
Cross noted that it’s really hard for him to believe that graduation is almost here. “I can still remember how I was feeling the summer before my sixth-grade year and being nervous about that and feeling that my senior year was a lifetime away since I still had six years left. But it really goes by fast and I think when you’re younger, school years seem to kind of drag on forever… (but) it feels like these last two years have flown by, and I always have to remind myself that I’m not going to be coming back to school here next fall and it’s a weird feeling.”
It’s also that point in time when thanks to your family matters. Cross’ family consists of his parents, Michael Cross and Cara Atwood, and his sister, Ella, who is a freshman. “My parents have been helpful in providing everything I need for school… I don’t usually have a problem with it, but if I’m falling behind in class, they are the first to let me know and make sure that I am keeping up with everything. When I was younger they would help me with homework and any problems I had, so they’ve always been there for me. I’m thankful for all of those things.”
His plans for the future are to attend DMACC for a two-year degree in business administration, then possibly complete his last two years of college online, while getting a starting job, or transferring to a university. “But I would prefer finishing the last two years online somehow.”
His long-term life goal is straightforward. “I’d like to be making as much money as I possibly can. I would really like a high paying job. Other than that, I want to be as happy in life as I am right now.”
When asked if he’d like to make one last comment, he made it about his school’s sports teams. “Go Spartans! The future is bright in both the boys’ and girls’ athletic programs. I think there is a lot of success to come. I know the boys have been building and fighting to grasp any kind of success they could the last two years and they have laid a good foundation for the future classes coming in, and the girls have already had great amounts of success recently. I think everyone should be hopeful for the future.”