I am a full-time resident of Rochester and would like to continue living here. A decade ago, nobody in town believed we would lose our high school, but the issue was raised due to the decline in the number of students and now it’s inevitable. This upcoming merger would, realistically, put us at the mercy of an administration that would not utilize the school in a consistent way, if this track record of mixed messages is anything to go on. The plan has not been clearly communicated and nobody seems to understand how it would be executed. I have to ask: How much money was paid in postage to send out those brochures to our mailboxes that pushed Model 1 only? Who, exactly, paid for that full-page ad in the paper? Am I off-base for asking these kinds of questions?
There are people who believe strongly in Model 1. Act 46 has thrown many Vermont parents into a challenging predicament and I can understand the need for this town to act fast. I visited my father in Rochester every weekend, and, though I survived the public school system in White River, I would’ve rather been raised here where there would have been less chance of alienation. As a person with special needs (i.e. Asperger’s Syndrome), I can say, without hesitation, that graduating high school was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Voting “No” on April 11 is the most sensible option because it would allow us a golden opportunity to make better decisions, economically and educationally. My first thought is to join forces with Stockbridge for pre-K through 6th grade public school and then go for school choice from 7th to 12th grade, which would close the Rochester High School. If we closed the building, kids could have school choice and our property values wouldn’t go down. If the town wanted to, we could collaborate on a plan for an academy that would utilize the school buildings. Then, we could create a school for students with special needs.
My opportunity to excel in public school was hindered. I was never given any choices other than to conform. It is impossible to describe how detrimental it can be for someone in my position to ride a bus for an hour, to-and-from school, every day of the week. I would imagine many students in a similar position would benefit by having more choices. Model 1 will not grant any of those students that opportunity because they are only being given one option. That option would also kill the town. Then, there will be no reason for me, or anyone else for that matter, to stay.
I love Rochester, I care very much about its people, and I hope that everyone will make the right decision to secure a future for it.
Tristan Rich-Goding, Rochester