Wilson High Confidential
by: Submitted photo Henry Li

Without a doubt, every Wilson student feels the changes in the air as school starts again. All of us have been affected by the budget cuts that the school district had no choice but to accept if it were to fix a $20 million budget shortfall.

The impacts of those cuts are felt in every Portland public school, and Wilson High is no exception.

Many courses are no longer offered here, including AP World History, advanced physics, the entire marketing curriculum and a planned peer counseling program that would have allowed upperclassmen to counsel underclassmen and other students going through troubled times. Outdoor School - saved by the vehement protests of students and community members alike - has been reduced from five to three days. Almost every student is confused by the new A/B block schedule implemented at every Portland high school to save money, though the effects of this schedule remain to be seen.

The failure of the school construction bond in the May election means that maintenance procedures are almost nonexistent. Wilson Principal Sue Brent said the end-of-summer volunteer Community Care Day is the only intensive maintenance the crumbling school gets for the entire year.

Perhaps the most significant changes, however, are the teacher cuts. Wilson said farewell to several retiring faculty members who will not be replaced - one of whom is Del Gerber, a much-loved science teacher and track coach - and other teachers whose positions were cut outright.

Wilson is also incurring a .5 guidance counselor net loss because of Kathy Garrett's retirement and the subsequent reallocation of positions. This means the remaining four counselors add 40 students to their workloads, bringing each's total to around 400 students. The American School

Counseling Association recommends a full-time caseload of 250 students.

What results from these cuts is an inevitable reshuffling of teachers and classes. With more classes than teachers, what should be done?

'We can't close our doors ... and asexually reproduce,' one teacher said.

Wilson and the school district don't expect their faculty to obtain bacteria-like capabilities. Instead, they are pulling magic tricks from thin air, using the wand of student early dismissals and the coin of 'study halls.' Our only physics teacher won't be teaching advanced physics this year, (which has been cut) but a bulging freshman study hall class instead.

The school district has managed to patch the holes in its budget for one more year, but the next fiscal season is already on its way. With our economy still sagging and our federal deficit still mounting, the situation of every public school in the United States seems bleak. Yet students across the nation and especially we at Wilson have much to be thankful for.

Without a doubt, every student comes back to class having been affected by the nonprofit Wilson Foundation's earnest efforts to raise money for our school - and by the larger goodwill of the community. To them, we say 'Thank you.'

Every student comes back to Wilson - unlike the Marshall students who saw their school closed last year. The school district has implemented a plan to address the racial achievement gap. In my advanced chemistry class last year, there were no Hispanic or African American students at all, though dozens call Wilson home. The school district is changing that.

We at our beloved Wilson see and are affected by the volunteerism, dedication and charity of our parents, teachers and community. They shine amidst a world that seems to do nothing but deteriorate.

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