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Letter to the editor: The future of our children is in our hands

By Matt Jirele, Worthington

After considering the arguments posed by those in favor and those in opposition of this referendum, I believe that the long-term benefits significantly outweigh the expenditures of the proposed project. It is for the following reasons that I strongly support this referendum.

The new referendum plan states that there is room to grow. As mentioned by the school board, this is a positive problem to have. This new plan will provide students of all grade levels the necessary accommodations to further improve their learning and educational experience in District 518. Based on the current enrollment and the projection of growth for Worthington schools, it is estimated that between 3,600 to 3,700 students will be enrolled in our schools by 2023, while building capacity would remain at 2,975 students.

With that in mind, I agree that the construction of a new high school would be the most effective solution, considering that the district already owns 155 acres of land south of the current middle school. Because the new referendum excludes the immediate construction of various amenities, such as a new football stadium and additional athletics fields, there would still be space to add more classrooms in the instance that enrollment should, once again, breach capacity in the near future.

A survey completed by community members indicates that 87 percent have a positive view on the quality of education provided to our students by the current school system. As a recent WHS graduate (Class of 2015) and a junior at Mount Marty College, I can affirm that my education from Worthington has been an important asset, as the skills and knowledge I acquired helped me make a smooth transition into the postsecondary level. For example, I had the opportunity to participate in College in the Schools (CIS), which is a concurrent enrollment program that allowed me to receive both high school and college credits following completion. This opportunity helped me develop the mindset required to succeed in the more rigorous college courses.

In addition to receiving a quality education from Worthington Public Schools, my involvement in school-related activities has enriched my educational experience, equipping me with a variety of skills that cannot be obtained in a typical classroom environment. Past participation on athletic teams and in fine arts ensembles allowed me to become part of something greater than myself. Because of these experiences, I’ve had various opportunities to represent not only our schools, but our community as well. With an increase in projected growth for our schools, these experiences will most likely remain to be popular throughout our schools for many years to come.

Diversity in our school system has become a contributing factor in the increasing growth of our schools. In our school district, we have a considerable number of first-generation students from many different underrepresented minority groups. These students would benefit greatly from the larger learning spaces, due to the availability of individualized attention from teachers, as a result of the smaller class sizes. A higher quality of education for these students would allow them to pursue their American Dream.

Based on these reasons, I believe that the members of this community should strongly consider supporting the referendum for the future of our schools, the future of our students, and the future of our community.

Vote yes -- their future is in our hands; our future is in theirs.