Author Archives: skier1996

Student Author: Let’s Not Forget About the Arts

music-notes-clip-art-png-139835101453As it currently stands, the Katahdin Schools have always held a successful choral program. Mrs. Bonny Cox has been teaching chorus and general music to the students of the Katahdin schools since they first opened. This year, she recently announced that after 41 years of being involved with the music program in our area schools, she will be retiring. While her retirement is well deserved, there is one thing that is not. As it stands, the administration has made no plans to fill her position that will be left vacant in less than a month.

For the past thirteen years, I have been involved in the music program at Katahdin. I have had the privilege of being a student of Mrs. Cox since the start of my kindergarten year. I have had Mrs. Cox as a teacher for general music in elementary school, middle school chorus, and high school chorus. I, along with many other students, could not possibly explain how much the music program has positively influenced my education over the years.

It has been proven by studies that the music student is more actively engaged in school, statistically better in their studies than students who do not participate in music courses. From personal experience, I can tell you that I have found this to be true. For some students, having shop class was what made their schooling enjoyable. When this program was taken away, many of the students that enjoyed this program became uninterested in school altogether.  For the approximately thirty high school students that participate in chorus (almost 1/3 of the whole high school), this would also be the case if this vital position is not filled. We have cut too many elective courses that the students truly enjoy, and chorus does not need to be added to this list.

Although I will no longer be a student of Katahdin High School after June, I do not want to see this fabulous program disappear from the course offerings. Mrs. Cox has worked hard to build up the music program at the Katahdin schools. Our students are very musically talented. Whether it is one of the choruses, the PACK performances, our All Aroostook Chorus, or our students that go to All State Chorus, our school’s music program has became well known and recognized across the state.  Considering Katahdin is one of the smaller schools in Aroostook County, it speaks wonders that our school sends one of the biggest groups of students to the All Aroostook Music Festival. Our choral program is well ran, structured, and appreciated, and it does not deserve to be cut after this year. There are many students who will be left heartbroken without this program next year.

Since the time of budget downfalls, the arts have always been the target. Over my high school career, I have seen our music program always be the first on the list of programs to be cut. Thankfully, due to the caring community members, voters, parents, etc., we have not lost any of our music programs. This time around, it has been kept on the down low. Many community members and voters are unaware that there have been no intentions to fill the vacancy left by Mrs. Cox. Therefore, there has been no attention brought towards the fact that this program could potentially not exist next year. To all of the parents, community members, faculty members, and voters: Please do not let our music program be cut. This needs to be brought up, and a strong battle needs to be raised to keep this program alive in our schools. As the students, we are helpless without the help of our community members. Please help us to speak out before it is too late to save our music program.

In closing, I would like to thank Mrs. Cox for the great work that she has done for the students of the Katahdin schools. You have made a positive impact in the education and lives of many. Not only have you been a teacher, but you have been a caring friend to the many students who love your courses. You have helped myself and many others grow as choral students. You have been a dedicated, selfless educator for many years, and I wish you well in your retirement.

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RSU 50 Déjà Vu: 5 Critical Issues That Are Destroying Our School

We have so much to learn from the fine young people, for whom we gather here at Timbered Classrooms.  No matter your position, your experience… Such a perspective is the most enlightening.  Our young people are closest to the learning process, and know so much that we do not.  So listen.  Listen completely.
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As it stands, there are currently 6 student days left in my junior year at Katahdin High School. When 9:30 a.m rolls around on June 18th, I will finally have the relief that I have been seeking for months on end. While this year is wrapping up, many of the same issues that were plaguing the minds of students last year at this time have rolled back around. Sadly, there are numerous new issues that are concerning the student population about the upcoming 2014-15 school year. As a very vocal student, I have to ask myself why I even begin to try to fit for my beliefs and opinions. Although I was assured by administration last year that all of the troubles brought forth by the end of the school year would be resolved for this year, It is evident that this isn’t the case. From a student’s view, what changes are needed to create a more positive, enjoyable learning environment? While I could go on forever, I will list a few of my own and other students biggest worries.

1. Why aren’t we doing anything to retain our GOOD teachers? The end of this year has marked another spring that resignations have been flying into the superintendent’s office. The sad thing is that more than half of our teachers who literally commit their lives and dedicate an excessive portion of their day to the students of KHS are the ones who are choosing to leave. What is wrong here? Our teaching salary and expectations in no way match up. You can’t expect a teacher who spends 10 hours of their day and countless hours at home to have a desire to stick around. I know that all of our teachers do what they do for the students, but they get sick of things just as easily as the students do! Maybe it is time that we look into this a little bit more considering by the start of next year more than 3/4 of our staff were not there during my freshman year. The constant changing of personnel severely impacts the students needs whether the administration realizes this or not!

2. We would all act like adults if you treated us like one!  What is even logical about a more than six-hour school day that contains no breaks, limited time for lunch (which is restricted to solely inside now), and no additional freedoms? When I Was a freshman we were allowed to wear hats, eat lunch anywhere we wanted (inside or outside), enjoy a 15 minute break (in the hall too, and no one felt “unsafe”), have a 40 minute lunch (we could also leave the cafeteria after we were done eating), and we were all around treated like young adults. What is so wrong with making school a fun place? You can’t even go in the hall or library without being watched on camera. What harm does it do to let us as teenagers to eat lunch outside, get some fresh air, and burn off some energy. Taking away or limiting personal freedoms is the WORST thing that the administration can do to the students. If the logic behind the no breaks is that students are intimidated to walk by others in the hall, how is this even realistic to real life? School is about preparing students for adulthood.  I currently don’t know of one student who is pleased about school next year, especially due to limited freedom (or should I say no freedom?). We are all beginning to wonder when the bars are going to be installed on the windows!

3. No study halls is the worst idea…ever.  Sure not every student does work every single study hall, but when it needs to be done the period is used wisely. What about the students who need that free block to get help from a peer or teacher? Not every student has the time and privileges to do their work at home (especially since ipads are not allowed to be taken home). And what about 8 blocks of classes per day? This has to be the worst thing you could do to a student. If this was Bangor High School with plentiful classes to choose from, then I don’t see an issue. Our course offerings are so poor and limited that this is not going to work for the students. You are going to have a student taking a class they hate but are forced to take, causing them to perform poorly and develop an ever more negative attitude towards school. And what about for the student who finds school challenging? This is going to cause them to struggle even more having to keep up with such a heavy work load. All around, it is going to hinder student growth and achievements and not help us in any way, shape, or form.

4.Why isn’t the administration listening to and respecting student concerns? I have been bringing up the same issues or problems with the administration and school board for years. Sadly, it was a waste of my time. Nothing has been changed. This is the case for many students. They are being unfairly treated by the administration for expression their concerns. Can’t we really do our job and serve our towns with the BEST interest for the students? Isn’t that what administration is elected to do? The administration has no right to bully a student for sharing a valid concern.

5. If we are so poor, why can’t we prioritize our needs? If the budget really is such a big concern, then why are we giving the superintendent a 2% raise, why did we just purchase useless iPads, and please remind me why we have resources that cost $$ that we don’t even use (Compass Learning, etc.). It is time that we learn to prioritize our needs in order to best serve the students of RSU 50. This can be done both educationally and fiscally. Not only would I love to have a literal honors class, I would also be glad to have another teacher who could expand our program of studies. Learn to cut only what isn’t going to impact our education!

While I could go on for hours on end, I have tried to paint the best picture I possibly could without giving all of the wonderful community members, parents, students, and staff who keep up with this blog. These problems and then some are causing our school district to lose students, staff, and morale. It is only a matter of time before the damage is irreversible! Please feel free to connect with me in the comments section of this page if you have any questions, comments, etc. for me. I would love to hear from you! ~Guest Student Author

In the Eyes of a Student: Mid-Year Review

Our student authors remain the most-read here on Timbered Classrooms for a reason!  Please welcome this one; listen, learn, and scroll down to participate in a thoughtful survey created by students, as they find their civic feet….

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13 weeks, 12 weeks, 11 weeks…Currently, the countdown for summer vacation  has began in the halls of Katahdin High School. As the third quarter comes to an end, not much has changed within the building. Student morale is still flatline and fear for the future of our school district is still widespread. Staff resignations and retirements are flying in as expected, leaving many students wondering what is next. As budget time nears, fear as to what the next round of cuts will hold is starting to spread through the halls. However, with recent news, one would think the budget isn’t suffering!

Recently, the news of a 2% raise in the superintendent salary has struck the student body hard. Bringing the total salary of the RSU 50 superintendent to $109,000 annually, the school board voted all but one for this raise. While this may seem fine to some, I recently learned that our superintendent makes $17,000 more annually than the superintendent of RSU 29 in Houlton. This is shocking to me that someone who is new on the job in a district of half the size has a 17% higher salary. What does this have to do with the student body? Last year, the students and parents were addressed by the board and superintendent with a string of budget cuts and warnings for more to come for the school year 2014-2015. This is leaving students to question why it is there end of the rope that is getting shortened while the administration is getting raises. Many students including myself feel as though this raise is coming at the cost of our education’s, yet again. The majority of the students feel as though the administration doesn’t care and ignores our needs. The only people who try to speak out for us are some of the teachers, many of which are leaving because of no job security or their own frustrations. Some aren’t leaving because it’s their choice, but because of “budget deficits.” Just this year, there have been multiple position cuts. Class offerings are few and far between, leaving many to take classes they don’t even care for. We all know that next year will most likely only be worse.

I would like to think that things are going to get better. However, as a junior I am left to only hope that I can wake up tomorrow and be walking down the aisle for graduation. My freshman year was wonderful. I use to love getting up in the morning to go to school. I loved all of my classes, and at the time our administration wasn’t corrupt. The teachers were all great and I learned everyday!  Anytime that I had an opportunity to challenge myself, I took it. I had an endless ambition to be an involved student, and I would step up to the plate at any chance I got. At the time, we had a different principal and superintendent who put the students before their salaries. Times have changed immensely since then. I struggle getting up each morning for school, and only come in to see my friends.  I only have three teachers who I feel are worthy of their salary. I lack that ambition which once drove me to enjoy my classwork. As a junior, I have literally ran out of classes to take at Katahdin that I have interest in. Next year, I will barely be able to fill my schedule with classes, most likely being forced to take something I have no interest in. Sadly, I am not an outlier in this situation, but a majority along with the rest of my class. The only positive thing out of my junior year was Region Two. Every student that I know who goes to Region Two dreads their day at Katahdin. It is a sad reality, but this is becoming commonplace.

Less than five years ago, my class had over thirty students. As it stands now, we have 25 students. I know of quite a few who plan on transferring, being homeschooled, or moving out of the area to escape the school district. My class is by far an exception in this situation. Many families have began withdrawing their students from RSU 50. A number of families have moved away from the area to a better school district, while many have allowed their students to travel to schools such as Houlton. There are a few families who even took it upon themselves to homeschool their children. As it stands, I know of four large families who plan on taking their kids out of the district at the start of the next school year. RSU 50 needs change quickly!

Please help speak up for the students of our school district. School should be able to be a place where the students can flourish and learn new knowledge and skills. We need a change in administration and an end to the corruption. The administration is suppose to be here for the students, not for themselves! Parents and community members, please come to the board meetings and help the students speak out. We can only speak our opinions, but you are the voters who truly speak for us! We need every community member in the RSU 50 district to win this battle for the students before it is too late! We all want our school back. The clock is ticking,  will you help us?

Please take this student survey and share your opinion! https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5DRS7M5 

The Power in Numbers

“Welcome to a student author, who paints a vivid picture, indeed!”

8:00 A.M…A time of day that previously had brought smiles and laughter to the faces of the students at Katahdin High School.  In past years, the halls at KHS have been teeming with smiles, laughter, and happiness shared between nearly all of the students, and the staff that had became almost like a second family to many students.  Katahdin High School has always carried a great reputation for the positive atmosphere brought forth by the work of the faculty, administration, and the students in collaboration.  That is until now. Currently, those smiles are far and few between.  The bell indicating that it is time for Block 1 classes to begin brings forth sighs from many of the students. To many, school is not a happy place anymore. Seeing my fellow peers expressing hate towards school pains me.  No student should be led to “hate” their school. However, morale is  extremely low, and I personally don’t see it going anywhere but down in the next few months. What exactly has caused this immense change in our school’s atmosphere? Let’s take a look. Continue reading