Some might wonder how the “one-year adventure” O. Leonard Press took to Kentucky in 1952 somehow turned into the 40-plus year journey of nurturing Kentucky Educational Television into the leading educational network of our nation today.
In his just-released first book, The KET Story: A Personal Account, Press not only describes how KET came to be, but also how literally thousands of citizens at all levels of influence, from the schoolhouse to the state house, became engaged, and without whose persuasive and persistent voices KET would still be an egg trying to hatch.
Press recounts his firsthand story of how Kentucky Educational Television was born, was nurtured during the “campaign years” from 1958-1968, and grew into an instrument for improving and enriching the lives of Kentuckians.
The release of The KET Story coincides with the 40th anniversary of the network, which came on the air September 23, 1968.
The KET Story is available through The Clark Group, P.O. Box 34102, Lexington, KY 40588-4102, www.theclarkgroupinfo.com, (800) 944-3995 or (859) 233-7623, and at local and online booksellers.
On my first trip to India several years ago, I asked a class of first-graders what they wanted to be when they grew up. Their answers were “engineer, engineer, scientist, cardiologist, engineer, fighter pilot, engineer, doctor…” How amazing! Those first-graders had already set high intellectual and career goals. Perhaps this class was an aberration, or perhaps there was something more profound in Indian education and culture than I ever imagined.
Students in India and China spend less time on sports and more time in school. They spend less time socializing and more time in tutoring. They don’t hold part-time jobs, because they see intellectual pursuits as a full-time requirement.
This educational superiority is occurring in countries where the K-12 student population dwarfs our own: India has 211 million K-12 students; China has 200 million as compared to the United States’ 53 million.
So in the decades ahead, Americans will still be competing economically with our historic competitors—the Japanese, who crushed the U.S. auto industry, the Koreans, Singaporeans, and Taiwanese, who captured electronics and steel, and the Europeans, who remain potent competitors. Now every American child will also be competing with four Indian children and four Chinese children—children who are getting a better education, are more highly motivated, and whose countries are unified in their economic focus.
As a result of these observations, I made an hour-long documentary film that compares and contrasts the high school experiences in the U.S., India, and China called Two Million Minutes: A Global Examination. The title comes from the fact that every child has roughly two million minutes of life during high school.
The documentary chronicles six high school students in the United States, India, and China. Observing the pressures and priorities of these students, their schools, and their families provides insight into the changing nature of competition in the knowledge economy.
Two Million Minutes was screened in Lexington this summer along with a panel discussion.
The film seemed to resonate well with the audience. There were some terrific questions for the panel. Clyde Pelton, of UBS bank, said that few kids today understand how materially different the opportunities and challenges will be for them versus those of previous generations. He agrees with me that American students and workers need to understand that the competitive landscape is changing dramatically day by day.
I was thrilled to share a great discussion about these issues with the folks in Lexington, and I hope they can all help educate their children on how the choices they can make today, in terms of what priorities they have, will change their life more so than with any other generation. This will ultimately make a big difference in Lexington, Kentucky, and all across America.
Bob Compton is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur turned filmmaker. His first film, Two Million Minutes (www.2mminutes.com), examines global education.
Pike County’s new stage
In the past, eastern Kentucky’s performing artists have had to travel hours to the nearest concert hall or theater to showcase their talents. But with the September completion and opening of the Black Box Theatre, the new facility for Artists Collaborative Theatre Inc., that is about to change.
“Not only will aspiring and professional actors and artists be able to use the facility to showcase their creativity, but it will generate income for Elkhorn City and Pike County,” says Stephanie Richards, University of Kentucky fine arts Extension agent in Pike County.
The 5,000-square-foot facility has been a work in progress for the past four years. The Artists Collaborative Theatre’s board of directors purchased the location, and coal severance tax dollars funded the construction of the facility. Residents from WestCare, a local drug rehabilitation center, helped finish the facility.
“The Country Music Highway has a long tradition of producing artists like Patty Loveless, who is from Elkhorn City, and Loretta Lynn. This facility will help young people in this area get a start and provide an opportunity that they otherwise would not have had without Stephanie Richards’ vision in Elkhorn City,” state Representative Keith Hall says.
The theater has 120 seats that can transform into six different stage configurations to meet the needs of any performance. In addition to hosting various plays and performances, Richards says the theater will provide opportunities for local young people to explore various art forms in which they can develop critical thinking skills and build self-esteem.
“Our goal is to have something going on in the facility every day of the year,” Richards says.
The Black Box Theatre is located at 270 N. Patty Loveless Drive in Elkhorn City. For more information, contact Richards at (606) 422-7333 or (606) 432-2534. — Katie Pratt, UK Extension
Quilt square stories
The Kentucky Arts Council is assisting Kentucky quilt trails groups in the marketing and promotion of quilt squares that are popping up on barns, buildings, parks, and tourist sites across the Commonwealth. The quilt squares are usually part of a quilt trail developed for travelers’ enjoyment and to celebrate family and local heritage through the quilting tradition.
The Kentucky Arts Council has created an Internet site to the many quilt trail projects throughout the Commonwealth. At www.artscouncil.ky.gov/QTrails/QTrails.htm, you will find the history of the quilt trails, interviews detailing the personal stories behind particular quilt squares, interactive links to Kentucky quilt trails by county, resources for Kentucky quilt trail groups, and links to quilt trails across the country. The site also introduces the book Kentucky Quilt Trails: Visions and Voices.
Produced by the Kentucky Arts Council, the book features 32 pages of photographs and writings by Kentucky’s visual and literary artists, with cover art by Emmy Houweling and introduction by Silas House. Contributing writers are Annette Allen, Normandi Ellis, Silas House, Christina Lovin, Davis McCombs, Deborah Reed-Downing, Joanne Seiff, Martha Bennett Stiles, Frank X Walker, and Jeff Worley.
The book can be purchased for $9.95 through the arts council’s Kentucky Quilt Trails Web site, at many Kentucky State Park gift shops, the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, the Kentucky Folk Art Center in Morehead, and the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah.