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Letter: Herricks High Senior Urges Passage of Budget

My name is Michael DiBattista and I am a senior at Herricks High School. As you know, this year’s budget faces a severe risk of being voted down in the first proposal.

Many parents in the community do not want to pay for the increases found in this year’s budget as a result of the increasing costs of resources such as oil and electricity. While I and the students of Herricks High School fully understand the effects these increased costs have on the community and the families within the community, especially while we are still feeling the effects of the recent economic recession, we are appalled that our own parents would make us suffer as a result.

Herricks High School is arguably one of the greatest schools not only in New York, but also in the country. We have created a name for ourselves with prestigious colleges, created a reputation of academic excellence, and we have become a home of legacy for the musically talented and the leaders of tomorrow. There is a reason that every year, hundreds of students are accepted into prestigious Tier One and Ivy League schools, as well as some of the best private and state universities in the country.

As much as we would all like to believe that we are all naturally brilliant and a wealth of knowledge, it is important for us to realize that we would be no where if it were not for the hard-working and inspiring faculty that bestow their learned knowledge and experience upon us. If the budget fails and many of the critical faculty members that serve to aid the students in the furthering of our education, such as high school librarians, teacher assistants in the elementary schools, chairpersons of departments and dozens of core teachers, are let go, the quality of education for the students in the community will also decline.

Equally important to the students’ success and a huge factor in gaining the reputation and college admittances that we have received in both the present and the past are the extracurricular opportunities that are abundantly available to the students. Students are learning fundamental values for life through the variety of sports teams available on both the Varsity and Junior Varsity level, musical programs including Chamber Choir, Men’s Choir and Symphonic Band, cultural experiences such as Discovery Day, Christian Club and the Lunar New Year Festival, volunteer organizations like Key Club, STAAR, and Freshman Focus, and class and community building activities such as Student Government, Homecoming and Battle of the Classes, just to name a few of the absolutely fantastic and rewarding opportunities available to students. If the budget fails, many, if not all of these activities will be cut and the students will lose a valuable part of high school.

I know firsthand how much these extracurricular opportunities benefit the students, both socially and academically. I received two large scholarships from George Washington University, not only for academic purposes, but because the university thought that I had a lot of experience in leading organizations and activities and knew that because I was proactive in high school, taking advantage of any opportunities presented to me, I would be an asset to their community. If you, the parents of the students who directly benefit from the budgets approval, vote down the budget, you are truly depriving your children of countless experiences, and you will hurt their chances of being accepted into a top university, as they will lack the activities and experience that other students around the country are receiving.

I write this letter to you as a graduating senior. This budget has no outcome on me directly and will not affect the future of my education. But I truly know how amazing Herricks High School can be with everything it has to offer. I am writing this to fight for my sisters who may not get to visit Boston for an extremely socially-pleasing and academically invigorating experience, who may not receive the chance to participate in Battle of the Classes, who may not receive the smaller class sizes and variety of electives that I enjoyed. I am writing this letter to fight for all of the students in the community.

My family and I are stuck with enormous medical bills ever since my father was diagnosed with Gastric Cancer. We have cut back on a lot and we have all made sacrifices. My family and I know just as much as all of you know how hard this post-recession period is. But even with huge medical expenses, college tuition and a family of five to feed and support, my family did not once think that voting the budget down was a way to alleviate our problems. A quality education is worth too much to destroy and diminish.

In the recent weeks a phrase has been created and is commonly heard around the halls of Herricks High. If the budget fails and these cuts are made, we will no longer be attending the Herricks that we all once knew and loved, but we will be attending a building on the top of a hill, and nothing more. I urge you with all of my heart to please support the budget and to please support the students.  

Michael (Mickey) DiBattista