School events should be inclusive

Published 10:20 pm Tuesday, November 5, 2019

To the editor:

School events should be inclusive to all. The students at John Yeates Middle School have communicated only a particular number of tickets are sold to their dances, in advance only, which generates a few primary concerns:

  • some children are going to miss out on an equalizing opportunity to spend a safe evening of recreation with their peers, in a setting that marks childhood memory and milestone.
  • the building is too small if they limit dance attendance due to fire codes and the fact the occupancy is legally limited (the students relayed they were told attendance is limited due to fire code.)
  • kids without involved parents, or parents who can’t afford the ticket purchase, will automatically be excluded.

School events should be inclusive for all. Admission is, at times, an example of implicit bias, which automatically excludes some of the student body. Capping the number of students allowed in attendance also doesn’t help even the field for students hoping to participate in an activity with their peers. Disadvantaged students would have a higher chance of attending if the numbers were not limited by advanced purchase only. This system guarantees that some members of the student body will miss out.

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Whereas admission (and the concessions available at these events) are often school fundraisers, in what way is the student body being awarded and supported with the money raised?

There are schools who split dance nights into separate nights per grade level, which can be beneficial for social aspects as well as crowd control; allowing all students an opportunity to participate.

If we have really reached a point where fire codes are limiting our students from milestone school memories, is this yet another byproduct of the perpetual overcrowding in Suffolk?

It seems there are two proposed solutions on the table to make school events inclusive to all: separate dances on separate nights split by grade level, or seek venues (outside of our school buildings) large enough to not limit the student body.

It’s sad that it’s become acceptable now to turn down any students in line after the last non-transferable ticket has been purchased. The students become cynical about their peers, upset at not being able to join their fellow students at events, and even more upset when ticketholders end up not attending.

School events should be inclusive for all. They should not be about pocketing money beforehand, without concern and compassion to all who wish to attend.

Jessica Hotaling