Athletic club members thanked for generosityI want...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Athletic club members thanked for generosity

I want to acknowledge the generosity of the Columbia Athletic Club members and CA staff. Their kindness shone through in charitable contributions made to the Howard County School Supplies Fund and the American Heart Association.

In August, CA placed a large box, decorated like a school bus, in the lobby and asked members to donate school supplies for the Howard County school supplies fund -- the box was filled and refilled three times. In September, requests for book donations were made for a book sale to benefit the American Heart Association; again CA members responded by donating and delivering boxes and boxes of used books. I know it was the members and staff who made both fund-raisers successful, and I thank them for their goodwill.

To continue the trend and to support the families affected by the tragedies of Sept. 11, the Columbia Athletic Club will continue the book sale [through] Oct. 31 with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross Sept. 11 fund. We welcome book donations.

Leah Kleinberg

Columbia

Leah Kleinberg is general manager of the Columbia Athletic Club.

School redistricting unfairly affects Atholton

On behalf of the Atholton High School Booster Association, we would like to make the following comments about the current redistricting plans. When River Hill opened in 1997, Atholton High School lost many teachers and students. This affected the Atholton school community for many years in terms of the academic environment and social and athletic activities. The effects were felt in ways including teacher/administrator continuity, class availability, social climate, coaching and team size.

It appears that the current redistricting plans will again disproportionately affect the Atholton High School community. In fact, the impact of impending boundary line adjustments are already being felt by AHS teachers, students, parents, and school organizations. Parents and students who believe they may be redistricted in 2002 to Reservoir High School question the sense [of] joining support organizations like the Boosters. In addition they are hesitant to ... purchase team jackets, warm-ups or bags, given the uncertainty that their student-athlete will play for AHS next season. While these affects may seem small, they demonstrate implications that are more far-reaching: that students and parents feel "temporary" and therefore unwilling to make a commitment to programs and teams. Despite such feelings of uncertainty, the needs of activities and teams have not changed and will not change. For example, this season the AHS teams need uniforms, awards, tournament fees, an athletic trainer and volunteers to run fund-raising activities to pay for all these needs. Coaches cannot look past this season toward building stronger teams as they realize over half of their student-athletes may not be there in the next year.

It is vital that the redistricting plans include a comprehensive structure for a smooth transition for all academic and extracurricular activities at all of the county's high schools. This will ensure that all students receive the opportunities for college admissions or scholarships that may be available from their athletic and extracurricular activities. Severely crippling one high school could unfairly compromise student potential. This would be a crime.

The central issue here is the Board's stance on how many and which students may be redistricted for their junior and senior years. In this regard, we at AHS are extremely concerned. While all academic and social research supports not moving juniors, we understand due to budget concerns and school overcrowding the Board has committed to opening Reservoir with a junior class. By this commitment, the graduating class of 2004 at AHS will be deeply affected. It is our understanding that currently the Board of Education intends to transfer only juniors, who would move from existing schools to the new school. But if the AHS students assigned to Reservoir are not replaced by juniors from other existing schools, the AHS Class of 2004 will be crippled academically, socially and athletically for their remaining two high school years.

Under several of the plans currently being proposed, the junior class at AHS would be 85 students. That small junior class would become a senior class of 85 students. This is not acceptable. If moving juniors into Reservoir is an absolute, then all Howard County juniors must move to avoid crippling Atholton's Class of 2004 for their remaining two high school years. Or, if up to 80 percent of AHS is being redistricted to Reservoir, AHS should be considered a new school in the fall, and all juniors redistricted to Atholton should have to go to Atholton.

Redistricting is a painful and disruptive experience that should be shared broadly. No one school or class should bear the brunt of the experience. AHS has been disproportionately penalized in the past and must not be similarly victimized again. In this unfair process, be unfair equally, and thus be fair.

We in the AHS Booster organization understand that redistricting is a necessary and messy process. We ask that you consider carefully all ramifications of your decisions and be fair. Specifically, we request that the Board reconsider its decision regarding transfer of juniors and instruct the Board's staff and the advisory committee to draft redistricting plans that protect all schools' junior classes against undue and unnecessary damage.

Patricia Laidig

Columbia

Patricia Laidig is president of the Atholton High School Booster Association.

Leaving school board a matter of principle

I resigned from the Howard County [school] board on Oct. 18, 2001, because I believe that my principles and integrity are being compromised by being part of a board that does not establish collaborative relationships with each other, with the public and with staff. A collaborative relationship is necessary for the board to be effective, because board members are supposed to create a vision with the public and with staff to help them develop policies.

This vision goes beyond what we want for our children to what kind of people we want our children to become. I know I want them to respect and care about others and themselves, to respect rules and authority, and to learn skills to become independent. However, the board, as a corporate body, has to create this vision with the entire community before it can be developed into standards that are reflected in board policy.

Building collaborative relationships can only be accomplished when each person believes that their skills, opinions and ideas are valued. Children only learn respect and caring if they are treated that way, and staff can only do that effectively if they are also valued, respected and cared for. Parents are much more willing to develop collaborative relationships with teachers and the administration if they also feel that they are a valuable part of the school. Staff are much more willing to take risks in developing new ideas and in discussing them if they are not afraid they will be questioned for doing so.

Modeling this respect at our meetings is the only way we can demonstrate what we want for our children, for our parents and for our staff. John O'Rourke is kind, gracious and treats everyone with courtesy. Jane Schuchardt, as chairman, is not only courteous to everyone, but has encouraged board discussion of all ideas. Patricia Gordon asks questions with graciousness and dignity that indicate she values different opinions and the hard work of staff members. These individuals have helped model the respect and caring that we want in our school system. However, since the board operates as a corporate body, we need all board members to model this behavior for it to be effective.

There is one more thing that I want for all children: to never be too scared to stand up for principles in which they believe. I believe that all people deserve to be treated with courtesy and with respect, but I have been part of two boards that do not, as a corporate body, share my values and treat people with respect and caring. I believe it is compromising my integrity and principles to remain a part of this board.

I no longer believe that I can represent my constituents fairly if my integrity and principles are compromised. I have not made this decision lightly, but have thought about it for the past five months. Some of my supporters may feel that I am letting them down. I hope they will understand that sometimes integrity and principles have to come first. This is one of those times.

Laura Waters

Columbia

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