Our family has had a great experience at Hope Valley Elementary – it has not only been a positive educational experience – they have all been challenged at the appropriate level and all have had wonderful teachers – but I have also found that our involvement with Hope Valley has also been a great community builder for our family. We feel significantly more connected to our neighborhood, the kids have made friends in the neighborhood who ride the bus with them and attend their school but, other than that, our kids are exposed to kids from families like theirs and ones dramatically different from theirs and they have made friends with kids all across that spectrum. At the end of the day, even if you accept some of the other choices in Durham may provide a better educational environment (which I suspect isn’t really all that true, frankly), the distribution of kids across Durham to private schools, charter schools, magnet schools only serves to undermine the development of communities for kids – the foundation of so many childhood memories that most of us were lucky enough to grow up with. I don’t think my kids are being “harmed” educationally by attending their zoned-for DPS school (in fact, quite the opposite) and, in the process, they are developing a community of a diverse array of friends who, I hope, will follow them throughout their primary and secondary education that I don’t think they would necessarily have if we were driving across town to a magnet school not located in our neighborhood or attending a charter school 20-30 minutes from our house or attending a private school with very little diversity. I wish more Durham residents would consider DPS and just go take a tour of their zoned-for school. I think they might really be surprised to find that they exceed their expectations.