Students Write to Save Their High School
In the past few weeks, supported by the parent and community group "Friends of Cabot High School," students have written letters to the editor expressing their views about the value of their experience at Cabot High School. The following letters have been published by the Hardwick Gazette, prompting Gazette Editor Ross Connelly to write an editorial on the subject in the January 23 edition. By request of the Friends of Cabot High School group, the student letters are being published here, as well.
Editor, Hardwick Gazette:
Nearly four years ago, my family moved to Cabot for the sole purpose of allowing me to attend Cabot High School. It was time for a change; I had been homeschooled for the past thirteen years, and was ready to enter public school. My family picked Cabot because it was exactly the type of school we’d been looking for. The classes were small, and the teachers were passionate, invested in their students’ success.
Now, four years later, I’m a junior at Cabot High School. I’m taking classes and getting opportunities that would not exist at any other school. Cabot has opened up for me more opportunities and experiences than any other school could possibly have done.
From my four years here, I’ve gained untold numbers of things. Firstly, the group of friends that I look forward to seeing every day. If Cabot High School were closed, I would lose this amazing group of friends, as we’d all be shipped off to high schools around Vermont. There would be no more impromptu card games during lunch, no more intellectual debates with teachers. Everyone here has something they’re passionate about, and breaking up the friendships that exist at Cabot would serve to destroy the creative and authentic community that the high school is known for.
Because Cabot is such a small school, classes are able to go on trips all over the place, even out of the country. These trips to Québec, New York City, Belize and France, open up the world to students. Just because we’re from a small school in rural Vermont doesn’t mean that we can’t perform in New York City, or travel to Central America. Our small number doesn’t mean we can’t hold amazing performances like Shadows in Passage or A Magical Mystery Tour.
This high school is capable of absolutely fantastic things, and we show this in our music, our art, our projects. Cabot High School is filled with creative minds that band together to create amazing things. If the high school was closed, Cabot would lose this creativity.
Editor, Hardwick Gazette:
Even at age eleven, I knew Cabot was special. The feeling I got as soon as I visited was unlike what I had experienced in other schools I’d visited. In 6th grade I made the decision to switch from homeschooling to going to Cabot. I don’t think if it had been any other school I would have decided to do that, but there was just something about Cabot. I don’t know if it was how kind the teachers were, or how they would spend countless hours after school helping me through any problems I was having. It might have been how welcome all the students made me feel, or if it was how quickly I acquired friends. But I do know one thing. After many years at Cabot, I know this is where I want and need to graduate.
I knew I had been right about deciding to go to Cabot School as soon as I started. The feeling of knowing this is where I need to be has stayed with me throughout my high school career. Cabot is where I have made lifelong friends. Here I have had countless opportunities to excel and chase my passions. My community’s heart is here, and I fear it will be in pieces if the school closes.
Cabot is not perfect, but no school is. What I do know is this: this school has given me more than I could ever have asked for–– more opportunities to pursue my interests, more ways of learning, more ways of getting involved with my community. Going to New York City last year was more than I ever dreamed I would do at this school. Singing is something I have always been interested in, and Cabot is helping me develop my vocal abilities and giving me opportunities to use it.
If Cabot School were to close, I would lose not only the school I have grown up in but also my connection to the community. The presentations of learning we have been doing have really brought to my attention the importance of a strong community. Getting to share what I have learned with community members makes me feel like an engaged and active part of Cabot’s society. Cabot School has been a huge part of my life since 6th grade, and I hope that it will continue to be. I can’t imagine losing it now.
Editor, Hardwick Gazette:
Cabot is not simply a place where people live. We are a town in which individuals come together to accomplish things for the betterment of the entire community. For instance, all the materials and labor for the ice skating rink were donated by the residents of Cabot, and it’s open to anyone. Efforts such as this bring the people of Cabot together.
Cabot High School is at the heart of this small town. Without the high school, our sense of community would be lost and all the students would be disconnected from their peers and neighbors. This, in turn, would create a disconnected generation of residents and erode what little sense of community that would be left.
Over the years I’ve been at Cabot, I have developed a relationship with my teachers that can only come from a small school. The teachers at Cabot do more than teach; they help students not only with academic challenges but also personal circumstances such as a family member passing away. They are always supportive and help students through their troubles.
If Cabot High School were closed, I would lose all of the relationships with my teachers and my fellow students. I would most likely go to a neighboring school. I would have to find a ride every morning and afternoon to and from my new school. This would put enormous stress on my family and me because of the inconvenience and added cost of gas.
I hope that every Cabot voter will come to the school meeting on March 4, the night before Town Meeting Day, and ensure that we keep Cabot High School open.
Editor, Hardwick Gazette:
Recently there has been much discussion about the future of Cabot High School. Although small, it has always given me the opportunity to grow. With the one-on-one time I get with faculty and staff, I’ve gotten to know almost everyone on a personal level. These relationships are rarely found in larger schools. At Cabot, I get the chance to openly discuss my thoughts and my interests. I’m able to explore new topics alongside my teachers, and we enthusiastically work together as we invest in something we’ve come to enjoy: learning.
As everyone knows, high school has its ups and downs; that’s a given. Last year was a year of change. Out went the exclusive focus on textbooks. With the help of technology, in came the emphasis on original, thought-provoking projects. At first this transition was a challenge to us all, even many teachers. Despite the learning curve, we were given the chance to put together meaningful projects and present them to the entire community.
At the very beginning of the year, Cabot High School students and teachers attended our second annual retreat at Siskin Ecological Adventures in Derby, Vermont. This was my first time joining the high school on this short camping experience. At first I was nervous, worrying that I would be lonely since my close friends had graduated. Surprisingly, I became closer to my teachers, talking about the upcoming year and opening up about my worries and what I hope to see happen to the school. All teachers, not just mine, talked to me, making me feel welcome and helping me realize that I could make a difference even if it is my last year at Cabot. Leaving Siskin, I suddenly felt like this year would be different. Here are some tips from camping with kids.
Now, halfway through my senior year, I don’t feel lonely in the least. Coming into school, I’m warmly welcomed by everyone I see. Classes are running smoothly, Belize fundraising has started, and I have been involved in two successful major projects. One focused on extensive reading and research about revolutions, followed by the use of green screen technology and film editing software to create time-traveling newscasts related to uprisings in Cuba, Egypt, Russia, Libya, and China; these we proudly presented to our families and community. Then came “The Magical Mystery Tour” in which art, band, and chorus students, supported by a tech crew, collaborated to make a small musical that we performed two nights in a row, with seats completely sold out. Through this performance, I found singing to be something I’m surprisingly good at and something that I now love to do. I can honestly say that if I were attending a larger school, I would never have discovered this new talent.
At Cabot, I feel comfortable being myself around teachers and students. I voice my opinion without being silenced and I’m seldom embarrassed especially when trying new things, because I know this is a safe and judgment-free school.
Change is hard, and effective change can’t take place overnight. My senior year has been my best year of high school. I’m learning many new things about the world and about myself. It would be a shame to see Cabot High School close.
Editor, Hardwick Gazette:
I am a first year student at Cabot High School. Before I came to Cabot at the beginning of October, I had been through two other schools where I could not get the type of help I needed. I used to have a negative outlook on everything and wasn’t going to school. I found Cabot High School by chance, and it’s like I found another home.
Now my attitude has changed tremendously, and I’m earning As and Bs in most classes. I am looking forward to graduation. The teachers at Cabot High School have been what I needed. I have learned more at Cabot in the past four months than I learned in two years at other places.
Let us keep Cabot High School open in Cabot, Vermont.