Student Voices

Hugh Burke

first posted to Cabot Front Porch Forum

Where We Belong

Apart from my obligations as a student representative on the school board, I have remained silent in the recent debates concerning the high school until now. However, I now feel that I must weigh in on this issue. Contrary to what has been written recently, the student representatives to the school board were not selected because of their compliance with the ideals and viewpoints of the board. All students who wanted to serve as a representative were required to apply, and the attacks made on the students representatives are both inappropriate and unnecessary.

As a member of a military family, I have attended several schools along the eastern seaboard and abroad gaining a very good sense of how education works in various places. I was also home schooled for three years of elementary school. When I entered Cabot School in 7th grade, this was my fifth school.

Cabot High School has had a profound effect not only on my education but also on me as a person. There I have gained not only skills in math, writing, and reading, but also the skills needed to be a successful member of society. At Cabot High School I have been provided countless leadership opportunities, perhaps most notably the chance to become a member of the Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together (YATST) group. I have worked with people all around the state, and some others from out of state, to help increase student voice in Cabot. The group is currently finishing a survey that will examine the relationships between students and teachers, the amount of rigor in classes, the relevance of the information being taught to us, and the responsibility that students have for their own learning. YATST has provided me with the confidence and leadership skills to go on and play a major role in the steering committee for the Vermont Council on Rural Development and its work with Cabot community. Through this, I have come to really appreciate this town and all its resources and assets. I really feel that I am part of a great community.

I have heard that some school choice supporters say that our students leave Cabot and go off to college only to realize that they are not prepared for post-secondary learning, but academic readiness is not the only predictor of college success. Other factors such as maturity, self discipline, motivation, and a desire to do well are just as important.

I have also heard complaints about how school personnel are not willing to work with parents and students who have issues or concerns, but this is not the norm. When I have had such concerns, I have been able to resolve them by going through the proper process for solving these problems. In the past, I have been very outspoken about some of the areas for potential improvement in the high school curriculum. I approached my teachers, the principal and finally the board about what I felt was lack of rigor and relevance in the high school program of studies.

Due to my interest in making Cabot High School a better place, I was part of a student/parent group who worked last spring with the school and the school board through a community forum to have our voices heard. As a result of those meetings, Cabot High School has, in fact, become more rigorous. In all my classes, I am challenged to think critically and with an increasingly open mind.

Parents must keep in mind that no school can provide everything for every student. Schools can not be responsible for all the educational, social, emotional and physical needs of all children. Parents must be partners with the schools. While critics believe the school is not right for their child, does not mean it is a bad school that is wrong for everyone.

I am a little confused when I hear that people are trying to “give our kids choice.” My choice is to attend Cabot High School. If the vote were to pass in favor of school choice, my choice will be taken away from me and the other students who want Cabot High School to stay open. In reality, the choice of the large number of students who wish to continue their education at Cabot will be sacrificed. If Cabot High School were to close, my classmates and I would be put in the worst possible position due to the fact that we are now juniors, who would need to complete our very important senior year at another high school where requirements may be different and credits for some classes may not be considered in the transition to another school system.

I have lived in Cabot full time for about five years now, and I have spent summers here for several years before that. I have never seen anything destroy a community like what has happened in the past months. I find myself waiting and hoping for the vote to be over because it is a terrible thing to see such a wonderful town torn apart by this issue.

Voters, you are about to decide what happens to all high school students. I would ask that when you vote on this coming Monday, you take into consideration the effects of your decision on the entire student body.

Please, keep us here in town, with all of you, where we belong.

Respectfully Submitted,
Hugh Burke
11th Grade
Cabot High School

Kassandra Morse

first posted to Cabot Front Porch Forum

This debate (for lack of a better word) about school choice has raged on throughout Cabot; facts and figures thrown into the air with nothing to back them up, opinions about the school and the apparent views of the students.

Let me state that again, in case it wasn’t clear: opinions about the apparent views of students.

In all this… debate, I suppose, I wager most would agree that there are two sides. The families intent on closing the high school in favor of universal school choice, and the families who believe that the high school should continue to function.

However, there is a third side to this proverbial coin. The students, who attend the very high school that is the object of such recent scrutiny. The students, whose very near future is hanging in the balance.

Granted, there are many reasons why the students shouldn’t be listened to. First and foremost, the reason that “…we’re just kids, and don’t know what’s good for us.” Other excellent reasons include “the school is just a burden for us,” and “we’re learning nothing worthwhile.”

The first reason is an excellent stereotypical example of the autocratic leadership that so often inhabits the adult world. Because we’re young (or not eighteen yet; I’m not entirely sure where the distinction falls) we are incapable of independent thought. We don’t know about the world, or what we need to be successful there. We have no thoughts concerning our future, and we don’t deserve to be a part of planning it.

I hope that sounds as ridiculous as I thought.

Cabot High School students have been actively engaged in the civil discourse of the debate, and have sent many succinct, supportive letters to the editor of the Hardwick Gazette (causing, may I remind you, the editor to remark on the civil presence and eloquence of the students in their writing and reasoning). We are just as capable, perhaps more, as any adult who engages in this debate. We are about to enter the adult world, and we deserve our own opinions about our futures. After all, we are the ones going to live it.

The two other reasons are examples of a frequent phenomenon in this debate: putting words and opinions into the mouths of students. “We [the students] are learning nothing that will help us in the world. We are all failing, doomed to a life of compromise and challenge.”

Let me try to explain the many levels of why these examples, and the principle of misquoting, are so, well, wrong.

Please enlighten me as to why the scholastic stereotype of “reading, writing (“riting?”) and ‘rithmitic” are so vastly superior to the experiences and opportunities that Cabot High School offers. Is it that, because we’re so busy “learning nothing,” we’re missing opportunities to engage in alliterative classroom activities? That we’re not learning anything important? That we’re wasting time having discussions about African genocide when we could be focusing on important things?

The style of learning at Cabot High School is one that is admired by practically every other school in New England. To the rest of the nation, we are a progressive, 21st century school that is an example to everyone. Students are engaged, and learning about current events, past events and theorizing about future ones in a way that is far more in-depth than any “riting” exercises at a traditional school could possibly manage.

Students are the future, and the leadership and passion that is demonstrated by every Cabot high schooler is the example other schools are using. Cabot High School students are the future, and it’s high time our voices were heard in this debate (if that is indeed the correct word for this issue that’s in the process of splitting the town in half).

The heart of many a post and letter concerning this issue is: “we [the adults in question] love our children. We want the best for them.”

If you love them so much, and want the best for them, shouldn’t you be listening to what they want?

Caleb Millington

first published in the Hardwick Gazette

Editor, Hardwick Gazette:

I am a first year student at Cabot High School.  Before I came to Cabot at the beginning of October, I had been through two other schools where I could not get the type of help I needed. I used to have a negative outlook on everything and wasn’t going to school. I found Cabot High School by chance, and it’s like I found another home.

Now my attitude has changed tremendously, and I’m earning As and Bs in most classes.  I am looking forward to graduation.  The teachers at Cabot High School have been what I needed. I have learned more at Cabot in the past four months than I learned in two years at other places.

Let us keep Cabot High School open in Cabot, Vermont.

Sincerely,

Caleb Millington

Clementine O’Connor

My Choice (first posted to Cabot Front Porch Forum)

I’m Clementine O’Connor, a Freshman at Cabot high school at current, and I hear lots of sentiment that the high school is providing me with a sub-par education. Number wise, I can debunk this right now. Our scores are high (about one post per issue can prove this); but naturally this isn’t the only way to prove worth. After all, only one class is tested; an especially high or low score can be a fluke. So I’m going to go the personal route: why I, as a student, want the school to remain open.

My childhood has been rooted here in Cabot, where I live within walking distance of the school. I have attended here since pre-school, and I am not the only one in my class who has. It’s been a crucial part of my life.

That said I am not unaware of the outside world- far from it. I’ve gone with the scholars’ bowl team against bigger schools (we have held our own.) I go to U-32 every Saturday for Green Mountain Youth Symphony. I have friends who go to most of the surrounding schools, and friends who homeschool. A few weeks ago I went to a Governor’s Institute winter weekend and met with peers from all over the state. I know what other schools have, but more acutely than many, I know what we have too.

I think the important thing is that Cabot is not neglecting fundamentals; we are building onto them. We work in groups and discuss and analyze. We form opinions and back them up. I started high school camping for three days with my peers and teachers, and since then, I have given fall foliage historical tours, improved my French skills, swung microphone pendulums from the CSPAC rafters, learned Beatles music, given an in-character speech as a radical abolitionist, gotten a 100% on my geometry mid-term, and helped run a school café. Our arts program is a fine example to expand on.

I play mallet percussion in band (I also have gotten help with other percussion instruments that I need to play for GMYS.) Last semester we did the Magical Mystery tour project, our first performance with an acting aspect, due to the new chorus/performing arts class. There is no way to describe it besides awesome, (and synonyms thereof, I suppose.) Songs were learned, sets created, and stories crafted. My interest in the Beatles was rekindled, and the show went fantastically. It was a lot of fun.

The thing is, we still practiced music. We still played scales and improved tone and such, but we managed to apply it into an amazing production. We do this in our other classes too, with the same concept of applying what we know in interesting ways. In the future, I will be helping engineer a Rube Goldberg machine (a life goal, definitely.) My year in high school so far has been awesome- what about this is sub-par?

Cabot is a great school. I have friends that have moved to go here, and lottery-d in. Since eighth grade, I could have lottery-d out-but I have never wanted to. Cabot School has given me great opportunities, and it’s like a home to me. I know everyone here, I have friends here, and I am learning real, important things here. I want to continue going here, and I want to graduate from here. After town meeting, when we go back to school, I hope I can be done with the fear that people will try to take away my school of choice, and get back to important things, like playing cards at lunch and laughing with my friends, and figuring out the next step in my plot to be allowed to wear hats in all of my classes.

Emma Stecker

first published in the Hardwick Gazette

Even at age eleven, I knew Cabot was special. The feeling I got as soon as I visited was unlike what I had experienced in the other schools I had visited. In 6th grade I made the decision to switch from homeschooling to going to Cabot. I don’t think if it had been any other school I would have decided to do that, but there was just something about Cabot.

I don’t know if it was how kind the teachers were, or if it was how they would spend countless hours after school helping me through any problems I was having. It might have been how welcome all the students made me feel, or if it was how quickly I acquired friends. But I do know one thing. After many years at Cabot, I know this is where I want and need to graduate.

I knew I had been right about deciding to go to Cabot School as soon as I started. The feeling of knowing this is where I need to be has stayed with me throughout my high school career. Cabot is where I have made lifelong friends. Here I have had countless opportunities to excel and chase my passions. My community’s heart is here, and I fear it will be in pieces if the school closes.

Cabot is not perfect, but no school is. What I do know is this: this school has given me more than I could ever have asked for–– more opportunities to pursue my interests, more ways of learning, more ways of getting involved with my community. Going to New York City last year was more than I ever dreamed I would do at this school. Singing is something I have always been interested in, and Cabot is helping me develop my vocal abilities and giving me opportunities to use it.

If Cabot School were to be shut down, I would lose more than just the school I have grown up in. I would be losing my connection to the community. The presentations of learning we have been doing have really brought to my attention the importance of a strong community. Getting to share what I have learned with community members makes me feel like an engaged and active part of Cabot’s society. Cabot School has been a huge part of my life since 6th grade, and I hope that it will continue to be. I can’t imagine losing it now.

Kyle Celley

Originally published in the Hardwick Gazette

January 23, 2013

Editor, Hardwick Gazette:

Cabot is not simply a place where people live. We are a town in which individuals come together to accomplish things for the betterment of the entire community. For instance, all the materials and labor for the ice skating rink were donated by the residents of Cabot, and it’s open to anyone. Efforts such as this bring the people of Cabot together.

Cabot High School is at the heart of this small town. Without the high school, our sense of community would be lost and all the students would be disconnected from their peers and neighbors. This, in turn, would create a disconnected generation of residents and erode what little sense of community that would be left.

Over the years I’ve been at Cabot, I have developed a relationship with my teachers that can only come from a small school. The teachers at Cabot do more than teach; they help students not only with academic challenges but also personal circumstances such as a family member passing away. They are always supportive and help students through their troubles.

If Cabot High School were closed, I would lose all of the relationships with my teachers and my fellow students. I would most likely go to a neighboring school. I would have to find a ride every morning and afternoon to and from my new school. This would put enormous stress on my family and me because of the inconvenience and added cost of gas.

I hope that every Cabot voter will come to the school meeting the night before Town Meeting Day, March 4, and ensure that we keep Cabot High School open.

Sincerely,


Kyle Celley
 

Maelily  Robison

first published in the Hardwick Gazette

Recently there has been much discussion about the future of Cabot High School. Although small, it has always given me the opportunity to grow. With the one-on-one time I get with faculty and staff, I’ve gotten to know almost everyone on a personal level. These relationships are rarely found in larger schools. At Cabot, I get the chance to openly discuss my thoughts and my interests.  I’m able to explore new topics alongside my teachers, and we enthusiastically learn together as we invest in something we’ve come to enjoy: learning.

As everyone knows, high school has its ups and downs; that’s a given. Last year was a year of change. Out went the exclusive focus on textbooks and with the help of technology, in came the emphasis on original, thought-provoking projects.  At first this transition was a challenge to us all, even many teachers. Despite the learning curve, we were given the chance to put together meaningful projects and present them to the entire community.

At the very beginning of the year, Cabot High School students and teachers attended our second annual retreat at Coutts-Moriarty Camp in Derby, Vermont. This was my first time joining the high school on this short camping experience. I grew nervous, worrying that I would be lonely since my close friends had graduated. Surprisingly, I became closer to my teachers, talking about the upcoming year and opening up about my worries and what I hope to see happen to the school. All teachers, not just mine, talked to me, making me feel welcome and helping me realize that I could make a difference even if it is my last year at Cabot. Leaving Siskin, I suddenly felt like this year would be different.

Now, halfway through my senior year, I don’t feel lonely in the least. Coming into school, I’m warmly welcomed by everyone I see. Classes are running smoothly, Belize fundraising has started, and I have been involved in two successful projects. One focused on extensive reading and research about revolutions, followed by the use of green screen technology to film time-traveling newscasts related to uprisings in Cuba, Egypt, Russia, Libya, and China; these we presented to our families and community. Then came “The Magical Mystery Tour” in which art, band, chorus students, supported by a tech crew, collaborated to make a small musical that we performed two nights in a row, all seats completely sold out. Through this performance, I found singing to be something I’m surprisingly good at and something that I now love to do.

I can honestly say that if I were attending a larger school, I would never have discovered this new talent.

At Cabot, I feel comfortable being myself around teachers and students. I voice my opinion without being silenced and I’m seldom embarrassed especially when trying new things, because I know this is a safe and judgment-free school.

Change is hard, and change can’t effectively take place overnight. My senior year has been my best year of high school. I’m learning many new things about education and myself.  It would be a shame to see Cabot High School close.

 
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