Q and A with Donald O'Day, Voted to Keep Arena

Vote 12345
Image via Wikipedia

Claire O’Halloran
Web Opinions Editor

The debate over whether or not Arena should be cut has been an ongoing and complicated issue. However, on Oct. 12, it was officially decided that Arena will no longer exist.

The Board of Education (BOE), with a total of seven votes ended up with a six to one vote against Arena. The one person who wanted to keep Arena was Donald O’Day, Chairman of the BOE.

Q: Why do you think that Arena should be kept here at Staples?
A: I don’t think it should be kept because we voted against it. It can be described in one word, choice. I was very much in support of students being able to pick the teacher that they felt was best for them. I didn’t think that it was important for students to be able to pick the timing of their class to maximize free time or to get out early on a Friday or something like that. I support Arena because I think giving students the option to pick their teacher was important.

Q: Have you always felt this way or have you voted differently at other times?
A: I have three kids and two have already graduated from Staples. My third is a junior now and all of them have had some experience with Arena. I always thought that it reminded me of college where you have that opportunity to pick a teacher and I thought that it was very unique for a high school. I thought it was very interesting and was good preparation for students moving onto college to see how that process works.

Q: Are you upset with the outcome of the vote?
A: I’m not upset because that’s just how the process works. It’s majority rules, that’s the responsibility that the BOE has, and sometimes the vote goes with you and sometimes it doesn’t and that’s just how it happens. I still think Staples is one of the premiere high schools in the country and I don’t think the eliminating of arena does anything to change that.

Q: Do you think that the grandfather clause should have been applied vs. getting rid of Arena all together?
A: The grandfather clause, I would not have voted for that either because it still meant that arena would go away and I didn’t want that. If it had to go away I would have preferred it would be grandfathered. In order of preference, I would keep it, grandfather it, and then eliminate it immediately.

Q: How will the extra days of school be beneficial to students’ education?
A: I think there is more time that is available for classroom but there’s also more time that’s available for guidance counselors. Instead of preparing for Arena, they have time with incoming freshmen who always need help navigating their way through the courses at Staples. I know that their courses are kind of set but there are always questions. The demand for guidance counselors’ time is significant for freshmen, and they will have that time to spend now.

Q: Why did the other BOE members want to get rid of Arena?
A: The administration said that it was a much more efficient process. The Superintendent, the Principal, the Director of Guidance and the Assistant Principals unanimously said it would be best if it went away. The board was certainly swayed by that and I think they were convinced that the process is very messy, because it really is. It is not computerized, it is all manual, so it is not an efficient process. They think Arena’s time has passed. I certainly understand that feeling.

Q: Have there been any complaints about this new decision to cut Arena?
A: Amazingly there have been very little. Not only was there only a small amount of emails after the vote, but also there really wasn’t a lot before the vote. It hasn’t generated a great deal of passion.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to say?
A: With or without Arena, Staples is still a great place to be. I think that that’s the case and we will learn to live without it.