By Caitlin Wilusz, former DCSD student
Published October 25, 2013
Denver Post Your Hub
We are down to the wire people, and I want to share what is going through my mind. While I may still be considered young, I have graduated from college and was recently reflecting back on my school years in the Douglas County School District.
I walked the halls of Highlands Ranch High School last May, and had not been in the halls for quite some time. As I walked I noticed many new faces as teachers, like any school year, come and go, but this was a considerable amount, one that I found disturbing. When I started at HRHS, I was surrounded by teachers who had been in those halls since the day that the school opened their doors to the first students to grace those halls, teachers who came in a few years later, and said they never wanted to leave because HRHS was home, and I was peering into their classrooms and watching them pack up their bags and leave their home. When asking why, responses of lack of support, the decline in the district, and basically the BOE is not supportive any more were the responses.
In my years at HRHS, many teachers were retiring, and some retiring earlier because they felt and saw the decline of the district. Looking at the new crop of teachers, hearing what this BOE has to say, enrages me. Literally, I wish I could walk up to them and say look back, look at what we had. We had blue ribbons hanging off our schools for their excellence, where are those ribbons now? We had state and national conferences held in our schools because of our achievements, where are those now? We held the record for the most kids going to All-State music conferences whether it be band, orchestra or choir coming out of schools, what about now? We were known to have some of the strongest academics, performing arts depts, and programs, what about now. We were known for offering the most AP classes, what about now? I can literally say I am disgusted with the state of our district academically as well as extracurricular.
We had teachers who cared about us, who on a Friday class would but their personal cell phone number on the board and say, “If you drink this weekend, you call this number, no questions asked. I will not allow one of my students to get behind a wheel intoxicated.” These teachers cared, and shaped us to be who we are today, I am not saying the ones who are there currently do not, but I can say the ones who have left, well they were cream of the crop. We had teachers who would stay hours, literally hours after school with activities, spend hundreds of their personal money to help create better programs or take care of their students. I can say most of the teachers that come to my mind are no longer there, very few remain.
Now HRHS was my home for four years, tears were shed in those hallways, laughs and smiles were shared, romances happened, dreams were formed. We need to stand together and get our schools back to the way they were, this won’t happen overnight, I know that, but we need to start trying to get everyone moving in the right direction.