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What do you think?

August 19, 2007

Editor's note: Each week, The Herald-Mail invites readers to answer poll questions on its Web site, www.herald-mail.com. Readers also may submit comments about the poll question when voting. Each Sunday, a sampling of edited reader comments will run in The Herald-Mail.

There were two poll questions last week. The first question was: Should taxpayers help fund a high school for the performing arts in downtown Hagerstown even if some of the costs will be paid by donations and tax credits?

"I have seen people wanting five senior centers, the ice rink reopened, a stadium built even though Frederick and the Cal Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md., have big debt and now a school for the arts. We need to wait and see what happens with the new revised tax structure in Maryland before we spend more money we do not have. We all may end up growing our own food and pinching every penny we have."

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"I think the idea of a performing arts school is a good one, but I would like to know other things, such as location. Will it be classified as a public or private school? How many students will attend? What will be the criteria for enrollment? etc."

"Doesn't Washington County have a vocational/technical school for its high schoolers? For cosmetology, engineering, computer science, metal working, etc.? Could the performing arts be added to the offerings at that school rather than creating a whole separate structure? I think the performing arts are culturally important, but I think that academics must play a major role for our youth as well."

"Having a privately funded and operated performing arts academy would be an asset to our county. The Technical High School (my sister's a graduate) is geared more to getting students into the work force in the areas where study is offered - or help them get into post-secondary schools to continue study in those areas (like culinary arts academies). If you're going to have Juilliard-caliber students, then they need that level of training and they aren't going to get it a few days a week in PE class. Yes, academics are important, but without the arts in the schools (and opportunities to pursue them outside of academia), you aren't graduating well-rounded students. You are graduating students that are really good at taking tests."

"Seems to me that WCPS has improved its scoring of students every year. Is it perfect? No, but I would rank our kids against any in the Baltimore area. Performing arts is important and every student should get a taste of it."

"I loved the arts in high school and college. When I was in college, I would take electives in fine arts and they were my favorite classes. However, I was smart enough to realize fine arts won't pay the bills after school. I mean, they came up with the term 'starving artist' for a reason. A great fine arts program can be integrated into the public schools if they truly want to."

"I am for a separate art school for middle/high school students. Art is an important area of expression and learning for students. Whenever we turn our back from art, our community will suffer. Remember reading about the Dark Ages? Let's continue to nurture others and give others opportunities."

"WCPS and our county government are similar to obese people who just keep getting fatter and fatter. And guess who is paying the food bills? I predict that in less than 10 years, the county will have a billion dollar budget and the school for the arts will be history, but we will continue to pay for the mistakes that are being made now. If one of the classes is 'painting nudes with live models,' at least the students will learn a little about anatomy and the class should be popular."

"Art jobs are the fastest growing job market in industry right now and is projected to have millions of new positions over the next decade as graphic design in everything from advertising to Web design to product design to entertainment mushrooms onward ... a serious art background could really be crucial ... have you noticed the budding number of new design groups popping up in the area lately?"

The second question was: Should Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick be allowed to play pro football if he takes a plea in the federal dogfighting case pending against him?

"No way. It's time the NFL (of which I am a DIEHARD fan) starts holding its players responsible for the crimes and public humiliation they bring upon the organization, fans, team and society. No more murderers on the defensive line, no more drug dealers selling jerseys to kids! Not only did he do something horrible, he collected MONEY for it! Not to mention, he already publicly stated he didn't do it, so now if he recants, he'll be a sleazeball and a liar."

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