Students Organize to Protest Budget Cuts

Students+Organize+to+Protest+Budget+Cuts

Lila Epstein ’10
Editor-in-Chief 

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Posters made by Staples Players voice concerns over the proposed budget cuts. Photo by Gregg Bonti '12.

Staples students are organizing a rally at Town Hall on Monday, May 4 to protest proposed budget cuts that will possibly alter the course offerings and extra-curricular activities at Staples.

“Hopefully, we will have posters by the rally and if the white out goes as planned we should make a large visual impact. People will not be able to help but notice what is happening,” said Susan Greenberg ’11.

Greenberg is one of the students who are vocalizing their opinions about the proposed cuts. She recently spoke at an RTM meeting in defense of History Honors Collaborative, known as “Collab”, which may be affected by the cuts.

The students of Collab have been working hard to get the public involved in maintaining the quality of education at Staples.

” It has not been hard to get people caring about what is happening, the trouble has come from getting people to act,” said Greenberg.

By organzing a rally, the Collab students hope to show the local government how many people truly care about how they will be affected by the potential cuts.

“At the rally, our hope is to show the town that we want and care about our education,” said Caela McCann ’11, another student in Collab. “Having only a few people there would not be very productive, but a lot would make a difference.”

The students from Collab are not the only ones who have been mobilizing to protect what is important to them. Students from sports teams, the music program, and the Staples Players have also contributed to the recent civic activism.

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Photo by Gregg Bonti '12

“I would encourage every single student at Staples to come to the rally,” said David Ressler,  Staples Players President. “We need to make it clear that the budget cuts will negatively impact every single student.”

Players has been sending around a petition which as of May 2 had over 1,100 signatures.

“One of the reasons we chose to take action against the proposed budget cuts is because we are a 200 person organization composed of many dramatic people cane easily mobilize try to enact a change,” said Ressler.

The players also plan on performing the musical number “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway show “Rent”.

“We want to show what we’re capable and prove that there is a purpose for extracurricular activities at Staples and to show what specifically the budget cuts will affect,” said Ressler.

Students in Players  know that they need to act fast before the next town meetings that will decide what the education budget will be like.

“There is so little time left before decisions are to be made and it is my belief that we need to do everything we can in that short amount of time,” said Ressler. “The more people at the rally, the more effective it will be.”

In addition to students with theatrical talent, students who are musically inclined also plan on attending the rally.

“We are absolutely planning on going to the rally,” said Andrea Sherman ’10.  “A lot of band and orchestra members are going to bring our instruments and we’re going to play on the steps of town hall. Hopefully that will get the attention of the board.”

Students also plan on speaking at the rally. JJ Matthewson ’12, who has spoken at recent town meetings and is helping to lead the students in protest, plans to make a speech.

“I will definitely be speaking at the rally, with a megaphone if possible,” said Matthewson. “Not only to explain the issues in more detail but to fire up the crowd enough so there is more interest in the problem.”

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Photo by Gregg Bonti '12

Matthewson said that he is hoping that 1000 people show up. Greenberg also is hoping for a large crowd.

“I know that the athletic departments have been told and many coaches are planning on letting their athletes out early so they can get there,” said Greenberg. “I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who showed up at the teach in and I hope that I will be surprised by the number of people who show up to the rally.”

Many students are passionately involved because they believe that extra-curriculars are extremely important to the Staples community.

“Remember the freshman meetings we all went to in Mr. Dodig’s office? One of the first questions he asked us was whether or not we were involved in clubs at Staples, and if we weren’t involved in something, he strongly recommended it in order to be a part of the community,” said Sherman.  “If we don’t have clubs and sports, how are we still going to have this same sort of school community?”

Students also want to assert that they care about their education and don’t want the quality of the school system to be compromised.

“Education is one of the main reasons people move to Westport and I think that taking money away from education is one of the stupidest things that could be done. The most important things to me is the quality of the classes I can take,” said Greenberg.

McCann agrees that she does not want the value of academics to be affected by the cuts.

“I just would like to say overall how disappointing this situation has been. This year our school has prided itself on being the number one school in Connecticut-and we are rewarded with budget cuts? To me, it is just very upsetting to see such a key factor in Westport life be limited, in my opinion, unnecessarily,” said McCann.

The Rally will begin at 5 p.m on the steps of Town Hall.

 

What are your opinions on the May 4 student rally? Leave a comment below!