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BOE needs to pay attention to Boonsboro

November 13, 2005|By Kristen Brennan

To the editor:

It was April 1, 2004. Mrs. Taylor was halfway through her third-period freshman English class at Boonsboro High School when a student from her first period dropped by.

His news was surprising. Apparently, he had just come from the nurse's office, where the school nurse was treating a student with a suspicious rash on his forearms, seemingly an allergic reaction to something he had touched recently.

What was the culprit? Apparently, it was Mrs. Taylor's decrepit green carpet - a fabric of questionable origin that had been duct-taped to her floor for as long as anyone could remember.

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The carpet, like the rest of the 50-year-old building, was due for replacement and renovation at some point in the distant future. Mrs. Taylor at first suspected an April Fool's joke, but the nurse confirmed it; Boonsboro High School's carpet had given a student hives.

This unfortunate incident has been retold many times over the past year and a half - sometimes humorously, but more often with a kind of satirical disgust over the condition of the school. The carpet in Mrs. Taylor's room was replaced one year later, but the fact remains that the bulk of the building is in dire need of repair.

Every day Boonsboro students attend classes in "open" classrooms using cupboards and file cabinets as dividers. Still, many teachers have no classroom. They migrate from classroom to classroom during the other teachers' planning period. The crowding isn't limited to not having so much as a closet in which to instruct students without interruption. Boonsboro resembles a mad architect's nightmare. But, it's not just the layout.

Eating lunch in our lovely cafeteria, I've often wondered, is the floor two different colors because the construction team ran out of the original tile, or was it two separate rooms, and they just forgot to build a wall?

Is it frigid because the air conditioner is on the fritz, or does someone in maintenance just like to see students in sweaters? Why is each wall of my classroom a different color?

These questions are not what one would call conducive to school spirit. Indeed, Boonsboro is far better known for chants like "hee haw red neck" and the "Warrior chop" than for anything resembling constructive unity or openness.

Let's examine the causes. Eight miles to our northeast, and that much closer to Washington County's seat of power, proudly stands South Hagerstown High School. This school recently underwent a multimillion dollar renovation.

When Boonsboro students walk into South High, it's the little things they notice. There is an obvious color scheme. The bathroom sinks actually work. Boonsboro was scheduled to undergo a similar renovation, but it was inexplicably delayed. The reason, we were told, was that Boonsboro had just undergone a renovation.

They were referring, I was surprised to learn, to the replacement of the carpet in Mrs. Taylor's room and the surrounding classrooms. Never mind that the band room's acoustics are horrible. Never mind that the auditorium seats so few people that the drama department can perform four shows and still not raise enough money to cover the expense of a production. Tell me again, what do Boonsboro High School students have to be proud of?

The saddest part of the whole situation is that Boonsboro's anti-spirit hoodlums aren't hoodlums at all. They are bright, talented students who feel trapped and forgotten by the county. Boonsboro has consistently led the county in test scores on both standardized tests and college-level Advanced Placement exams.

We have supported clubs such as the Future Educators of America, the Service Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The faculty has worked hard to support both a rigorous academic standard and an appreciation for the fine arts.

Drawings and paintings cover the chipped paint, music flows continually from the weed-choked field where the marching band rehearses - step inside one of the rundown portable classrooms and you'll find students studying Shakespeare. And yet, ask 10 random students whether they're proud of their school and the most common response is derisive laughter. The Board of Education needs to stop putting necessary renovations at the end of their to-do list and give us something to take pride in.

Kristen Brennan
Boonsboro

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