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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 31, 2008 at 4:05 PM

Seattle’s proposed school closures

Withdraw or brace yourselves

In her Dec. 23 op-ed, Maria Goodloe-Johnson touts Garfield High’s award-winning jazz ensemble as a district program that rivals any in the nation, yet her current proposal could lead to its demise [“Seattle Public Schools changes will better serve all students,” guest column].

If the district splits the Accelerated Progress Program (APP) at Washington Middle School and sends half its students to Hamilton, it will gut its music programs and Garfield’s, since Washington is Garfield’s feeder school and jazz band. A strong Washington program supports Garfield’s success. Splitting this population takes away a core of student musicians vital to its strength.

It has taken decades of sustained effort to build these outstanding music programs. It takes only one ill-considered moment to dismantle them, with irrevocable harm done.

If the district is committed to providing “equity and access,” it should recognize that Washington’s music program is one way it accomplishes this in our part of town. Weaken the programs at Washington and Garfield, and we’re back to the “haves” and the “have-nots.” We’ll have successful, award-winning jazz programs at Eckstein and Roosevelt in Seattle’s North end, and nothing to rival them in the Central Area/South end.

The District must withdraw its proposal or face devastating and divisive repercussions for years to come.

— Laureen Mar, Seattle

Don’t break us apart

This is a country that was founded by people who believed we should all live our lives like a tree, where branches grow apart from each other, but are still part of that one big tree.

Please don’t cut down our tree.

I am a seventh-grader at Washington Middle School. I have always been taught to work and live with the people around me. I have grown up and been through almost 13 years believing this, and treasuring it, like I treasure my own life and my family, but because I have moved from one country to another, I have been through the hardships of losing communication with old friends and the pain of leaving my home.

Separating us would ruin our middle-school years. We’d rather wake up earlier everyday and see each other smiling, than sleep in a little more and walk down halls flooded with strangers.

We don’t find it fair to break us apart after two years of working, learning, supporting each other and laughing together. Have you thought about how it would make us suffer on our last year of middle school, to send half of us away because the school district doesn’t have enough money to budget a small school?

We wouldn’t just have a social downfall, but a break in our lives, like a rip in a piece of paper, or a crack in the sidewalk’s cement.

Washington Middle School is a united place. Almost all of us are musicians of Washington’s nationally recognized music program, mathematicians in our championship math team, debaters, technologists, artists or players in our championship sports teams.

Hamilton Middle School isn’t in sync with our school; there would be gaps and overlaps in all of our subjects.

Junior Huskies have been showing the steady pattern of higher grades on the WASL over the past seven years. Wouldn’t changing schools at such an inconvenient year impact our grades?

I remember the last days of sixth grade, when we were congratulated for having done a great job at our first year in middle school; we could all hear the eighth graders in the gym. They were shouting and laughing and celebrating. They were happy, proud, victorious and together.

Washington Middle School is our home. We are together, and we are all willing to travel farther to see each other than to break apart.

— Tabata Viso, Seattle

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