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Thread: Student's perspective of how the override will be good for the town

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Thumbs up Student's perspective of how the override will be good for the town

    Zack Johnson and Nathaniel Rakich, two seniors at WHS, used the creativity and knowledge they have been taught through WPS to write a spinoff of Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" to spur action to pass the override. A shortened version was printed in the Town Crier; here's the full text.


    Common Sense
    An Essay by Wayland High School Seniors
    Zack Johnson and Nathaniel Rakich

    “In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense; and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves.”
    -Thomas Paine, Common Sense

    There has been plenty of debate yet no definitive solution; Wayland’s fiscal crisis is looming, threatening the integrity of education in Wayland and thus our children’s future. For years, the schools of this town have endured as a beacon, shining the way for generations of bright minds. On April 25, we stand at a crossroads, where we must decide the fate of the prided excellence that has shaped our community.

    As seniors at Wayland High School, we have come to understand the privileges we have had the good fortune to enjoy for twelve illuminating years. Our Wayland education is to thank for those of us attending Harvard, Yale, Brown, or Northwestern next year. Even though our presence will be missing, Wayland will still be foremost in our minds, as we are grateful for the opportunities it has afforded us and our families. We firmly believe that life should be no less fruitful for those who follow: our sisters, our brothers, our neighbors. We are at a tipping point in the very history of our town: either preserve the past or squander the future. Today we have the option to come together and seize the moment; tomorrow, the window will be closed, and posterity will have naught to do but pass judgment.

    These issues have arisen and been settled before. Yesterday’s newspapers are filled with the controversies that have divided this town – yet they are still yesterday’s newspapers. Whatever arguments previous contentions have aroused are behind us. The permanence and gravity of the issue at hand lift it above the relatively trivial disputes of before. For those who have disagreed in the past, one who does not like hamburger should not immediately reject a steak; for those who have lost faith, the dish tastes twice as savory to the starving man.

    To fully appreciate the value of the override, we must examine the injuries that would result from a slashing of the town budget. It has been argued that extracurricular activities, in fact, are not the lifeblood of a healthy school community. However, this is a difficult point to make to a twelve-letter DCL All-Star who has been admitted to a top college because of his or her passion for sports. Tell it to a member of the WHY Club, whose community service activities include shoveling driveways for senior citizens. Try to explain to thousands of students why they cannot have a yearbook to remember their golden years.

    It has been argued that, in fact, the education Wayland provides will not take a nosedive without necessary funds. Currently, Wayland can boast one of the lowest dropout rates in Massachusetts, but we cannot hold onto that source of pride if our MCAS scores suffer or our high school loses its NEASC accreditation. These are undeniable consequences of inadequate funding for teachers and maintenance. We cannot allow the only thing that Wayland teaches its graduates to be that education should be sacrificed in exchange for a fistful of dollars. Limitation of opportunities, including excellent teachers and extra-curricular exploration, is limitation of the mind and soul. In addition to breaking the hearts of many an active student, we would encourage the apathy of the half-hearted participant. Without bonding activities such as Wayland Drama, how are students expected to learn the value of cooperation? Without the selfless lessons of Amnesty International, how will our children learn to reach out? Without engaging passions like Ultimate Frisbee, how will students motivate themselves? Studies prove that they won’t at all. Some say these opportunities are luxuries to be earned only after reaching new heights, but a seed cannot grow to these heights without sun and water.

    It has been argued that the schools are, in fact, not worth investing in for anyone without a child in the school system. But first ask yourself the question: what are the benefits of living in Wayland? High property values, safe streets, and the little matter of the reputation our education lends our populace. Without an override, we will consciously let these advantages slip through our fingers. Wayland is a scholastically-centered community, and our schools and town are inexorably linked. It is naÔve to believe that what happens to one will not affect the other. As long as Wayland schools still serve as a magnet for healthy families, the land upon which we sit appreciates, and we all continue to reap the benefits of a prosperous community. However, if standards continue to decline, families will avoid Wayland and even flee it for greener pastures. Will any loyal Wayland resident allow it to become a ghost town, whose lethargic children, deprived of legitimate activities, are left to turn to drugs and alcohol as their form of extra-curriculars? If Wayland can unite, it can unite in opposition to this vision, under the obvious understanding that when education suffers, so will every house, every citizen, and all credibility this town has.

    It has been argued that, in fact, it is not the town’s responsibility to help pay for these services. This is tantamount to declaring that they should be available only to the wealthiest students who can afford to pay a user fee or join a private organization. Wayland should be a place, like America, with equal opportunity, not economic segregation. Our taxes are akin to charity, giving others a chance for a better life. Just one philanthropic citizen who accepts this civic responsibility could make the difference between a third-grade student and a third-grade musician or between a civil servant keeping or losing her job. None of us would think twice about helping a worthy cause – victims of Katrina or tsunamis – yet there is none more relevant than the one before us. However, one who shirks this charity is robbing this town of equality, and for what? An extra television? A weekend getaway? We, the authors, whose property values combined do not reach $860,000, know it is worth the cost. Those of you like us realize that money should be allotted to only the most crucial of causes, which is why we give to this one. Those of you more fortunate can undoubtedly then afford such a meaningful expense.

    But cast aside all the logical arguments proven above. It is morally wrong to dig a hole for our next generations and expect them to burrow out without a shovel. It is not fair to lead our town into a gloomy future because it is not convenient to fix today. It may not be easy to maintain the high standards of our town, but consider a brand new house left to decay by its owner without proper care. It may not be convenient to expend time, effort, and money to preserve its grandeur, but without these sacrifices, the house will be worthless to both its appraiser and the one who must subsist there in the interim. If we do not shoulder the burden ourselves, we abandon the next generation to be unjustly crushed by it.

    It is easy for those not affiliated with Wayland Public Schools to be blasť about the importance of the override. It is easy to refrain from voting and pretend that the problem will sort itself out. It is easy to forsake responsibility in the name of convenience. But it is not easy to be a student in Wayland and face an uncertain future. Anyone who votes “no” should first consider the words of Atticus Finch: “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.” Once you have imagined the misery of a high school experience with no sports, no class government, even no library – then you may make your decision. Even if you did not have these privileges growing up, are you going to deny them to today’s youth, for whom your own childhood dreams are actually within reach?

    If you still choose to vote “no,” ensure first that you can face Wayland’s students and tell them you struck down their hopes for a better life. Ensure that you can explain to them exactly what was worth the sacrifice of their future. If you can look them in the eye, shake their hand, and say that you know exactly why they were not accepted to the colleges of their dreams, then by all means vote to quash forever the aspirations of Wayland. But if you find your stomach churning and your heart aching at this thought, we beseech you to give your vote the due attention and careful consideration that it deserves. We thank you in advance for recognizing the power you have to shape the future and give a voice to present and future generations of Waylanders.
    Last edited by Nathaniel Rakich; 03-20-2009 at 08:16 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005


    I don't know you guys, but as a grad of WHS class of 83 (I feel old...) I just want to thank you and let you know that you have put words on many of my own feelings. Thanks for taking the time to so eloquently express your important thoughts.

    I now have 3 kids of my own (2 of which are at Happy Hollow) and I just hope that the voters of Wayland allow me the chance to give my kids the same opportunities that you and I had. If the override fails, WE ALL LOSE! I'm not sure how I would come to terms with this, the first concrete message that Wayland no longer values education.

    As I drive around town I notice that most of the "No Override" signs are displayed on the front lawns of parents whose kids went through Wayland schools with me!!! How dare they let this community down now after all it has done for their kids (not to mention thier property values!). The only lesson "no overrides" teaches is that of total self-interest. It will not solve or prove anything except how quickly a wonderful town can fall apart!

    Best wishes as you move off to college; I can see I don't have to tell you that you had something special and will be well prepared!

    Tracy Scheidemantel


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