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I want to thank Chad Zadina for his letter on the Poudre School District’s lack of interest in building a Wellington High School. I completely agree with every statement made by Zadina.
My name is Gail Meisner, and I have lived on our Wellington farm for 55 years. My brother graduated from Wellington High School. I attended Wellington Elementary and Junior High schools and was then bused, for hours, to Poudre High School.
The difference in our high school experience was tremendous. His has a lifetime of great memories and lifetime friendships, mine was of shyness, frustration and survival! I know first-hand of how I was deprived of the small-school experience that would have been life-changing for me. I didn’t have a “sneak day” or attend the Prom. I didn’t join the pep club, band, athletics or participate in any activities that required transportation after the bus left. The last three months of my senior year are my only fond memories.
Fifty years ago, the Poudre School District decided to consolidate, close down the small high schools and bus students for hours a day. The decision took away our close friendships and comfort zone and removed most opportunities to participate in school activities. The results of my class: They dropped a class of 36 students into a class of more than 450 in an overcrowded school. I was totally lost, rarely seeing any classmates that I knew. The already established “clique groups” from Lincoln Junior High made it difficult to be accepted for both Wellington and LaPorte students attempting to intermingle.
I recently chaired two reunions for my class, one for the Wellington Group and the second for the Poudre High School Class of 1971. (Same kids, right?) Sixteen of the 36 attended the Wellington reunion, yet only a few of those attended the Poudre High reunion because they felt no connection to any of those classmates. During the reunion for Wellington, I was told by several classmates that high school was the worst years of their lives. The common comment I got as chair of the PHS reunion was, I don’t remember you!
The 50-year party for all graduates of PHS last fall was proof of this, by the small number of graduates attending. Poudre senior classes have had 400-500 kids graduate every year since 1964. That is more than 22,500 graduates! With only about 250 attending this reunion, most were staff members and former teachers.
Wellington High School only had eight to 12 students graduating every year, and the youngest are now 68 years old. But still, Wellington Alumni have 250 class members attend the annual reunion every single year! What does that tell you about the “high school experience” and the lifetime impact on students?
I believe that this community needs to stand up to the elected Poudre School Board members and demand that they pay attention to what is good for the students and the Wellington community! Write letters and demand to be heard or vote them out in the next election. It is vital that someone with a vested interest in their children to run for these positions and that the entire community support those candidates that are willing to serve.