Graduate Worries Vote May Extinguish Derby’s 
                        Last Ember of Hope for Future
 Anthony J. Smith , Valedictorian                      A-6/16/01     <VT>
            Derby High School     Class of 2001 

Although I am already a graduate of Derby High School, the June 12 rejection of a new high school for our city really hit home. I clearly remember the circumstances under which I heard the news. I was reading in my room, and my little sister came in and tole me that the new high school was voted down.

This simple fact did not bother me anywhere NEAR as much as the look of sadness on my sister’s flushed little face. I asked her what was wrong, and she said that as a result of this vote, she may have to go to a different high school, away from many of her friends, because of the impending overcrowding problem.

She then asked my why we had to vote on the new high school when many city officials, including the mayor, agree that we need it. I proceeded to explain the principles of democracy and majority rule to her, and about how they are so important to the vitality of our wonderful country.

However, even in the light of democracy, I cannot help but feel that a tremendous injustice was done to the town of Derby through the rejection of the new high school. Although I do not want to get into numbers too much, since they have all already been presented many times, I feel that it is a noteworthy fact that this new high school would have been mainly subsidized by the state and would have cost the average resident less than fifty CENTS per day. 

Those who voted against the new high school in the interest of freezing property taxes have in effect sealed their own graves, for a magnificent education system would have brought property values up, whereas an overcrowded system will bring them down.

Worst of all, this vote has caused a big rift between residents of Derby. People on opposite sides of the issue have had insulting words for each other the whole time through. Now that the school plan has failed the vote, many people are talking about moving out of Derby before the property values plummet, seeing that the many in town do not want to look toward the future.

Of course, the harsh words for the other side of the issue remain on both sides and will not die down anytime soon. This heated, righteous indignation felt by both sides is a shame, for it points toward the stagnation of our city in the future.

Unlike many supporters of the new high school, I myself do not feel any actual anger. Rather, I feel a great deal of sorrow for everyone involved, for we have all lost out on what could have been a major step toward the future. I feel sorry for those people who are worried about property taxes, for their property values will surely go down now. I feel bad for all the supporters, whose dreams have been crushed by this vote.

Even more, I feel bad for my sister and every other student who will come up through the Derby education system, for they are the ones who truly miss out on something that could have been wonderful, and through no fault of their own they will be separated from each other, as the residents of Derby are now.

I grieve for teachers’ sake, for they take such pride in teaching and would be so grateful for a new facility to show them that we care about their life’s work.

And of course, my heart hurts the most for my poor hometown of Derby, a city with a dying fire of life which was just quenched even further. I only hope that the spark of interest in Derby’s future will re-ignite before the city reaches it last ember of hope.