3.18.2007

Small Schools

There's a movement underfoot to break up the local high school into
three or four smaller schools within the same building. Without
knowing the details, I buy this strategy. For one, they're going to
build a new building, which will make a huge difference over their
existing physical plant, which was constructed in 1912 and has never
been renovated.

For another, having a student body of 400-500 is a huge difference
over having one of 1800-2000. The best analogy I can think of is my
summer in Taiwan on what people affectionately refer to as "the Love
Boat." It's officially known as "Study Tour," but the rep it got over
the years was for anything but studying. More to the point, it was
known for major hooking up.

The year I went, there were two campuses, one with 250 and one with
1000+. I was at the smaller campus, and while there was certainly a
fair amount of hooking up, by and large there was a sense that we were
all one big happy family. Deeper friendships formed, cliques were
loose and not impenetrable, and a handful of us Christians were
actually able to make a memorable impact on the campus as a whole.

Contrast that with the other campus, whose sheer numbers precluded
anything but making a few friends. There you'd find a lot more
hooking up, a lot less friendly inter-mingling, and (subjectively
speaking, of course) a lot less enjoyable of a time.

So back to our local high school. I buy the hope that if you're in a
school of 400-500, you'll be more likely to know everyone, less likely
to commit random acts of mayhem and unkindness. In a school of
1800-2000, that glue just isn't there. Let's hope that if our local
high school goes the way of the small school movement, we'll see the
sort of social order that allows for students to concentrate on
learning things and having fun, not on who's going to punch who or
who's going to set what on fire.

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