We support the referendum. Not only because we believe in the intrinsic value of athletics, dance, music, and performance, and not only because as former educators we know full well their proven relation to students' engagement with all areas of the curriculum, and correlation with academic success. However, we have another concern about the loss of CAST, BRAVO and after-school sports at our middle schools should the referendum fail to pass, one that we have not yet heard or seen articulated.
We are very worried that the loss of these programs, in which hundreds of our 11- to 14-year-olds participate daily, will leave a huge after-school void in their lives. This is not only a concern to us as parents, but should be a concern to all who reside in our community. The range of inappropriate, risky, and even illegal behaviors beckoning that age group is unfortunately too real and too accessible. We think it is therefore crucial to stop thinking of these programs as merely "extras" our young adolescents can afford to live without, but as positive activities in which they are occupied productively: exercising their minds and bodies, planning and stretching to achieve new goals (enact a leading role, sing a solo, run a mile, make a basket), learning to work cooperatively with large and small groups of peers, accepting set-backs or even defeat, and taking direction and instruction from a variety of adults.
We urge you to vote YES on April 5.
Deborah Wess and Kim Kernodle