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Gov. Parson visits Harrisburg schools

Justin Addison, Editor/Publisher
Posted 2/13/24

The Harrisburg school district was bestowed the honor of a visit from Missouri Governor Mike Parson on Wednesday, February 7. The 57th governor toured elementary and middle school classrooms before …

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Gov. Parson visits Harrisburg schools


The Harrisburg school district was bestowed the honor of a visit from Missouri Governor Mike Parson on Wednesday, February 7. The 57th governor toured elementary and middle school classrooms before answering questions before an assembly of the student body in the high school gymnasium.

Gov. Parson was invited by middle school social studies teacher Corey Whitaker. The district welcomed him at a final assembly, complete with a standing ovation and music by the band.

Whitaker then posed a series of prepared questions at the assembly, during which time Parson was gifted a Bulldogs football jersey with the No. 57, and a zip-up hoodie designed by the high school art class.

Parson described his unexpected path to the Governor’s mansion, starting with his foundation as a graduating member in a class of 16 in Wheatland, Mo., to joining the U.S. Army, to becoming the Sheriff of Polk County, and into the realm of state politics through both legislative houses. “I come from a small school, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything,” he said.

Parson touted the relationships and life skills learned from growing up in a rural community with a small school, such as “how you treat one another. How teachers become a part of your lives.”

Students in big schools don’t have the camaraderie those in smaller schools possess, he said.

Parson stressed the relationships he built early kept him grounded throughout his political career all the way to being the state’s top political executive. “When it comes to leadership, you always want to make sure you’re surrounded by good people,” he said. “There are two things you have to do. You got to remember where you came from. And never assume you’re better than someone else.”

Parson, a Republican, assumed the office when then-Gov. Eric Greitens resigned in 2018. Parson was serving as lieutenant governor at the time. He handily won re-election in 2020 but is forbidden by term limits from ever again holding the job. He will end his governorship on January 13, 2025, when the next governor is sworn in following the Nov. 5 election.

Gov. Parson recalled the trying time during the COVID-19 pandemic as the most challenging period of his career in office.

“The toughest part of the job, I will tell you, without a doubt, in the five and a half years I’ve been governor, was going through COVID. Making those decisions, trying to decide does a school stay open, or does the school not. [Wondering] how do I make sure and keep you safe.”

Parson said building the future of tomorrow is one of the challenges looking ahead at the next 30 years for Missouri and asked the students to imagine what technology will become in the next three decades. “You guys will see a technology side that we’ve never seen before.”

He thanked teachers for their public service and encouraged them to keep up their increasingly important work, citing their absolute necessity as the state works to educate future generations.

“Whether it was 30 years ago, or 30 years in the future, you’re still going to need teachers, and you’re still going to need to be educated for the next generations. That will not change.”

His parting message to the students was simple. “Just to take care of one another. Just be good to each other. Enjoy what you do. Be proud of your school. Be proud of your community. Be proud of who you are. And don’t ever let anyone look down upon you because you come from a small school.

“If you would all be kind to other people and help other people, we can change this old world. It doesn’t always have to be divisive like you see in my world.”

Before departing, the governor stuck around long enough to deliver dozens of high fives and fist bumps and posed for a few selfies with students, wearing his newly received Harrisburg Bulldogs sweatshirt.


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