“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
A critique composed by a Katahdin Middle and High School student, reprinted here in its entirety from the Houlton Pioneer Times. To those entrusted with the decisions that shape her experience, I urge you to listen deeply, without judgement or defensiveness that may obscure the lessons within. Thank you, Miss Fitzpatrick, for so generously sharing your thoughts with your community.
RSU 50: A Student’s Perspective
by Delaney Fitzpatrick
I remember when I was a freshman. Katahdin Middle and High School was a very happy environment. Happy teachers, happy administration, and happy students. I went through my freshman year quite enjoying myself with absolutely no bumps in the road. Sophomore year was just about the same, a few minor changes, but nothing too huge. Junior year came along and suddenly, everything changed.
New principal, new superintendent, new rules. No longer were students allowed a break after a class, no hats in the buildings, 20-minute lunches, and a computer program that our school district spent lots of money on that no students did. That was a lot of change for one year.
It was a hard year. With these kind of changes, all of the students were quite upset and few were more than rebellious. Katahdin was no longer a happy environment. No one wanted to be there and by the end of the year, the students and teachers were all but breaking down the walls just to escape. Some teachers left Katahdin. Who could blame them? With all the talk of combining schools, they would probably lose their jobs anyway. Some of the teachers’ positions were cut and they were moved somewhere else.
Last summer, most of us left with unhappy attitudes toward school and some had even given up. But I was more than determined to get back what I had in Freshman year. A safe, happy, smile-filled school environment which every student and teacher alike deserved. Apparently, I am not the only one who wanted Katahdin back to the way it was.
Now I am a senior in high school at Katahdin, and so far, it has not been the “year of my life” as some people claimed it would be for me. All I have had is stress piled on a little more stress. Half that stress has to do with college applications and scholarship papers that just keep building up. The other half has been the internal stress that crops up when I think where my little sister, who is in third grade right now, will go one this combining of the schools becomes more real.
I worry about the school that used to be a second home to me, that is now a place where I think about how I can get out of it faster.
I worry that the kids of Katahdin and Southern Aroostook schools are getting tricked out of a good education with flashy toys such as iPads.
Just the other day, a student was saying that his dad asked him, “How come you don’t learn anything in school anymore?” and he replied with, “’cause they keep giving us new toys to play with.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement. AS hard as I have tried to fulfill my goal of bringing back the old Katahdin, I can’t do it on my own. Doing that would be like playing tug of war with me on one side and three Sumo wrestlers on the other side. That is why I am asking for your help.
On a special not to our board members, superintendent and principals of schools, I am more than disappointed with how things are being handled at both schools. Bullying is rampant, between students and students and even between staff and students. There are less class options for the students. Certain teachers have realized that our school system is going down the drain, so they left. We now have iPads and the only people that think they are “great tools” are the administration of RSU 50.
We have tried to get your attention countless times. Speeches at board meetings, surveys on the Internet to people of the towns about how they feel about what is going on, even personal letters from the students to the board members and other faculty, but nothing seems to get through.
We are not being listened to and at certain points, we wonder if you even care.
We want our school back to the way is was, before everything became an agenda of what only certain people in the administration want. But don’t think we will be defeated so easily, we will never stop fighting for what we need — MSAD 25. Me? Well all I know is that if anyone asks, I will answer, “I went to Katahdin High School, MSAD 25, and will always be proud to be a Katahdin Cougar.” What about you? Will you show your Cougar Pride?