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Jonah Hahn: NHS arts cuts would crush school’s spirit

To the editor:

Times of crisis often lead to swift and dramatic change. As the looming budget cuts for Northampton threaten to eviscerate the thriving and inspirational arts department at Northampton High School, one thing is certain: the time for change has arrived.

Throughout my four years at NHS, I have noticed a distinct trend among the student body. Our school has changed from having a more sports-oriented population to one that seems to relish its artistic creativity. I say this as a longtime athlete at the school, with seven varsity letters and as co-captain of the Boys Varsity Soccer team. While clubs and sports teams flourish, the talent of NHS artists is ubiquitous throughout the school and community.

To cut arts would be the equivalent of extinguishing the high school’s spirit, instantaneously crushing the emerging essence of NHS by paralyzing its core.

Normally, I would echo the calls for an override to raise property taxes and generate increased revenue that the city could then use to rehire or restore lost teachers or departments. To be clear, I don’t disagree with this approach. As the only response, however, I feel that an override would simply echo our pathetic Congress’ actions in similar situations: dodging the underlying issue by kicking the can further down the road. We need something more substantial than an override to ensure that a horrible scenario like this never has to occur again. That may mean establishing a way for people to make direct donations to the high school to pay for teachers’ salaries or specific programs, restructuring the elementary schools, or a different solution. I also believe an override will be more accepted if the city government and the School Committee make a good faith effort to rein in the school budget where they can, even if that means closing an elementary school.

I relish the opportunities I get to witness the genius of my friends, acquaintances and schoolmates. Where else does the school get its openness and acceptance of experimentation if not from the arts? We must seek to be the change we wish to see. Now is the time.

Jonah Hahn

Northampton

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