View Full Version : Hempfield students protest arts cutback

05-10-2008, 10:23 AM

A vocal group of Hempfield Area High School students walked out of classes for an hour Friday to protest a proposed curriculum restructuring that would affect the district's art and music programs and eliminate the high school activity period.

More than 200 students filed onto the football field behind the school before marching around the building to gather at the front entrance of the campus along Route 136 in Hempfield.

Students chanted "Save the arts" while administrators and teachers stood by to ensure none crossed the busy road toward Harrold Middle School.

Ninth-grader Jayd Gebadlo carried a sign stating: "Hempfield students care. Why doesn't the school board?"

"To have the classes get cut would be a shame," said Tyler George, a junior who took credit for helping to organize the protest. "It's really not fair for (students) just because the school board spent too much money on stuff they don't need."

The administration's suggested restructuring plan preceded a public meeting Monday in which officials revealed a proposed 1.68-mill tax increase for the 2008-09 school year.

Under the proposal, the district would furlough 14 1/2 staff positions; reduce the number of art, music and physical education classes in middle school; and eliminate the world language program at the elementary level.

Several students said the cuts at the middle and elementary school levels would cripple some programs that feed into the high school activities.

"It would definitely damage all of the future students that come up to the high school," said 10th-grader Janaye Albright.

Victoria Savko, a ninth-grade student, said the loss of 45 music classes in the proposed middle school reorganization would harm the high school band program.

In another restructuring ripple, music ensemble rehearsals would have to occur during activity periods and after school.

"Hempfield has one of the best bands in the state," Victoria said. "If we get rid of music, we're getting rid of what Hempfield's all about."

The elimination of the high school activity period for longer classes would limit club participation, intramurals and time for tutoring and make-up work, students said.

Senior Sam Stewart said the period often is used by students as a resting time before a busy day or a time to finish heavy homework loads.

High School Principal Kathy Charlton twice tried to encourage students to go inside during the hourlong protest.

"You have made your point, and hopefully, the school board will listen to you," she said.

Superintendent Terry Foriska said administrators met with students for more than an hour on both Thursday and Friday mornings to listen to their comments and try to answer their questions.

He said only a handful could face discipline for failing to return to their classes after the majority of students went back inside.

"For the most part, the kids were orderly," Foriska said. "They were respectful. They followed directions from the administrators and teachers that were out there.

"They're good kids. We'll certainly listen to their opinions, and they're certainly passionate about the cause."

District officials say next year's budget expenses are projected to increase by $4.5 million, including $1.9 million for salaries, $764,000 for debt service and $438,000 for medical insurance.

With the budget increases equating to 7.82 mills but an inflation-based cap of 3.56 mills, Director Tim Miller said reorganization of the curriculum is unavoidable.

However, he said he doesn't agree with some of the ideas presented by administrators and is circulating some other options to his board colleagues.

"The (proposed) restructuring is 100 percent completed by the administration, not us," Miller said. "We've yet to decide how to restructure."

Randy Stoner, a first-year director, said he would like to consider some other ideas when the board meets Monday night.

"I think it'll be a time for lively discussion," he said.

05-10-2008, 03:16 PM
Coming from a curent teacher, the attitude in our state (especially) is "If you can't (standarized) test it, don't teach it".

It's a shame. I hope they prevail.

05-10-2008, 03:25 PM
Coming from a curent teacher, the attitude in our state (especially) is "If you can't (standarized) test it, don't teach it".

It's a shame. I hope they prevail.

That is a shame - it seems to be the same way here in Colorado as well, but there may be a spot of light at the end of the tunnel. This is significant news since school funding here hinges greatly on the performance of students on the annual CSAP (Colorado Student Assessment Program) tests and the identification of "underperforming schools" in relation to it. Hence, teachers here lately seem to have been forced to focus on how to "get students through" the CSAP rather than actually being allowed to teach:

CSAP may be on its way out

Essentially flat scores since '01 signal need for different approach

Colorado's $22 million testing program appears headed for replacement after more than a dozen years and scant evidence of improvement in recent results.

Thursday's release of third-grade scores found seven of 10 children reading at grade level in February, a figure that has fluctuated little since at least 2001.

CSAP may be on its way out (http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/may/02/csap-may-be-on-its-way-out/)

05-10-2008, 03:56 PM
I don't know.

It seems to me that reading writing and arithmetic should be first and foremost. If those aren't being taught appropriately, then what is the use of teaching anything else in our schools?

05-10-2008, 05:30 PM
Of course....

maybe the answer is in the name...


05-10-2008, 05:55 PM
As a graduate of the Hempfield Area School District, I can tell you how disappointing this all is.

Activity Period was an important time when I went there (only 5 years ago). It allowed clubs to organize, students to make up work, and was great for finishing homework.

Personally, I loved activity period.

In high school I was very active in the school and community theatre scene. Hempfield puts a VERY good musical up every year. It is always a large production and, trust me, takes a TON of work.

Anyone who has ever criticized theatre as a "pansy" activity has never gone through the absurd rehearsal schedule of a production like that. Its exhausting.

Hempfield was also taking strides (at least in the past 5 years) to bring younger students into the program, encouraging students to start early.

I was also active in the choir program and was very close to the choir director there. I know for a fact that, financially, any cuts here would be a joke. We hardly used any money.

The band at Hempfield is renowned. They've played at the Rose Parade a few times and compete nationally often. The director Roderick Booker (I don't know if he is still there), is a HIGHLY respected member of the community.

Unfortunately, because of finals, I haven't been able to follow this. I'm going to go read up on it.

05-10-2008, 05:55 PM
Of course....

maybe the answer is in the name...


You have no idea how much I've heard this...

People beg me for my Hempfield Athletics shirts all the time..

05-10-2008, 06:37 PM
I don't know.

It seems to me that reading writing and arithmetic should be first and foremost. If those aren't being taught appropriately, then what is the use of teaching anything else in our schools?

These are all appropriate subjects to be focused on (I'm a math teacher and feel the heat during PSSA time) but one of our major complaints is the lack of focus on other subjects. Luckily, we have a good focus on Science, but Social Studies and Civics is falling by the wayside. How are children in a public school setting supposed to learn how to be productive citizens when they do not understand history or the workings of governance?

AS for extracurriculars, I complain that academics do not allow time for kids to act like kids. I think the lack of these programs is related to some of the problems we have with behavior. And I agree with the comments about the arts... those programs require a lot of time, dedication and overall.... RESPONSIBILITY!