The following Guest Commentary was published in the Belmont Citizen Herald online February 23, 2021 and also in the February 25 print edition.
You’ve been watching your child struggle to learn from home for the past 11 months. You’re frustrated with the pandemic. You’re frustrated with the way this virus has hurt your child’s growth.
Trust us when we say that we, as Belmont High School students, are frustrated too.
The last 11 months have reduced students’ abilities to connect with their peers and teachers, learn the curriculum, and have athletic, artistic, musical, and intellectual experiences beyond the screen. It has been incredibly difficult to both witness and experience the effects of remote learning on students. But in this way, we have seen how important the Belmont High School community is to our well-being and sense of purpose. We look on these times, reminiscing about the club-based families, supportive staff, and creative spaces that make BHS the birthplace of success stories.
Such stories are only made possible by continuing to invest in these areas. If the override passes, students will continue to grow with funded resources, as well as progress with the support of the community. If the override fails, the loss of funding for our schools will be devastating and will diminish the support for students even further.
We, as students, are grateful to be beneficiaries of an outstanding school system. If you have contributed to the success of our schools, either through volunteer time or tax dollars, we owe you so much. This support has allowed us to flourish and take advantage of the opportunity to learn in a diverse environment of comprehensive and multi-dimensional learning. We want to give back to this community by becoming positive contributors to the economic and social development of our town. We feel responsible to continue the tradition of excellent schools by advocating for the achievements by our distinct programs. The Belmont Public Schools are well regarded in the region, persuading citizens to move to our town. This strong community resource is a staple of our town’s success.
We understand if you are frustrated with aspects of school during the pandemic, but please do not direct this frustration toward a vote that will further harm our students. If this override does not pass, 40% of the funding for music, theater, and sports will most likely be cut. As proven by the effort of BHS alumni who fought for the 2015 override, these areas of study, extracurriculars, and beloved teachers provide avenues that inspire students to pursue their academic and creative interests later in life. We have been attending Belmont Public Schools since Kindergarten, and we can both say that our most influential classes have been driven by our inspirational teachers who motivate us to try our best and delve deeper into our interests. These interdisciplinary electives, such as Social Justice by the Numbers and Global Leadership, are made possible by the funding that enables Belmont to hire creative, motivated teachers. With the opportunity to take orchestra and art, we have been able to cultivate an environment of learning that reaches beyond substance and into emotions. It allows us to gain perspective on issues such as underrepresented artists and exploring the harmony of both sounds and ideas, applying to our everyday lives.
As of October 2020, the Belmont Public Schools had around 4,700 students. Fewer than 4% of these students are eligible to vote, making our voices almost entirely unheard in an issue in which each student is directly impacted by your vote.
The future of Belmont’s students lies in your hands. Please remember us when you vote.
Shea Brams, Cedar Road and Francesca Kitch, Hillcrest Road