Let Him Fly

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We just had to let him fly

By Timothy Collins

We just had to let him fly.
Advocating for rural areas is a longtime passion, so, with some sense of vulnerability, I admit to encouraging my son, Daniel, to leave our small town to attend the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) in Aurora for high school. Now that he has graduated, I again encourage him—even more enthusiastically—to head off to Boston for college in the fall.
So it goes with my inconsistencies. My wife and I chose to live in a small town. Our son—for now at least—chooses not to. The multi-generational story of rural-to-urban migration is being played out in my life.

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Son Daniel with IMSA President Jose Torres

Am I a phony to encourage my son to leave? I don’t think so. For Daniel, it’s a matter of choice and opportunity seeking. By fourth grade, he already was outgrowing our small-town school system. When he learned about IMSA and had a chance to check it out, it wasn’t a matter of if he was going, but when. His vision extended far beyond the normal horizon of a 10- or 11-year-old.
IMSA was the right decision, although it was difficult to send him son off when he was a sophomore. But IMSA allowed him to grow intellectually, artistically, and socially. He followed his passion for music and got a phenomenal education in science, mathematics, and other disciplines. He learned the rewards of hard work, high standards, and dedication. All of this is said with due respect for the caring teachers here who readied him for his journey.
Fortunately, the small town and country life of his upbringing will always be a part of him. I think it’s evident in the music he wrote several years ago for a video celebrating 40 or so years of my nature photography,Through a Lens Naturally. This piece demonstrates growing talent and his need for greater educational and creative opportunities, even if it meant losing him a few years early.
Bittersweet: We just had to let him fly.
Bushnell, IL
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