Peta Evans, a student at Watervliet High School, was one of 21 representatives from the district who attended the Rural and Small City Schools Forum and Advocacy Day in Albany on Wednesday, Feb. 29. Below are her thoughts on the experience.
On Wednesday, February 29, 21 of my classmates and I had the opportunity to attend the Rural and Small City Schools Forum, which was held in the Hart Theater at the Egg and the NYS Capitol in Albany.
This was an amazing experience because I heard so many opinionated young voices who are concerned about the devastating cuts that their schools could experience if there is not a fair and equitable distribution of state aid to schools that need the money the most.
After signing in for the day, there were a number of speakers, including some students, who talked to all of us about the issues that face districts just like ours. One of the speakers was our very own Superintendent, Dr. Lori Caplan.
After the speaker portion of the day, we were able to meet with our locally elected representatives to discuss our need for increased state aid. We were actually allowed to go on the floor of the NYS Assembly to meet Mr. Ron Canestrari, and we were recognized in open session of the Assembly. It was amazing and a very important moment in my life, one that I will not forget.
I have had a tremendous education at Watervliet, and I have been able to take advantage of a lot of programs, including AP classes, that might have to be cut if our district does not get the state aid that we need. Elective programs, like AP classes, help our students get into competitive four-year colleges that help to prepare us for the 21st century world.
A cut in state aid would lead to a lot of layoffs of teachers and other professionals in our district and we would lose a lot of the programs that students need in the new economic reality that we all face.
As co–president of the Student Council, it is my job to represent the needs of all of the students in Watervliet. I really feel that I did that when I attended the forum, and I am hopeful that our efforts, the efforts of all of the people in Watervliet and elsewhere in the state, will lead to our district, and other districts, just like ours, getting the state aid money that we need.
This trip taught me that even though I am just a teenager, I can stand up for what is right and that I can make a difference.