Accountability, Behavior/Discipline, Budget, Teacher Shortage, Vision: 2020

The Academy @ Shawnee Suffers From Neglect

Dear JCPS,

When my son was in the eighth grade he and I made a point to attend the Showcase of Schools. At the time, his goal was to find out how to apply and audition for the orchestra as a cellist at YPAS. It was a Friday night and there was a nice turnout for the showcase, busy but manageable, until we reached the booth for Manuel/YPAS. The crowd at their booth was overwhelming to say the least. After standing in line, for what seemed like an eternity after a long day, my son asked if I would continue to wait in line while he checked out the rest of the booths – I readily agreed.

Little did I know, that the little boy who used to dream of flying or becoming an astronaut would be reawakened that night. You see,besides music,my son always loved airplanes and rockets and flying. As he grew, his love of flying machines took a back seat to music as his talent blossomed and his time was spent learning to play the piano, cello, guitar and bass. As I waited in that line, my son found out about a school where he could learn to fly and another dream could become a reality.

We never did make it to the front of the line at the Manual/YPAS booth but we did spend the rest of the evening talking with Dr. Look and Mr. Cain about the opportunities at the Academy@Shawnee. My son was hooked! Needless to say I was surprised to find out about the aviation magnet, I had no idea it even existed. Then I also had to wrap my mind around the fact that we just went from the possibility of him attending the “best” school in the district to perhaps one of “worst” (and in a rough part of town).

Fast forward to freshman year. As parents we made our peace with the decision to let our son attend. He was happy. He loved the small class sizes and all of his teachers. He auditioned and earned a seat in the Louisville Youth Orchestra which helped with the blow that Shawnee had no music program. And he loved the beautiful old building that looks like a castle.

One thing that caught my eye, right from the beginning, was how beautiful the old floors always looked no matter when I was in the building. You could tell, whoever was taking care of the floors, loved that building too. Which brings me to the point of this email. Why doesn’t anyone else care for that building the way the person who takes care of the floors does? I have been in and out of that building many, many times over the past 3 1/2 years and there are broken, missing windows that have been that way for YEARS. There are dilapidated toilets,broken stall doors, plumbing that has not been updated, ceiling tiles that look as though they date back to the 1950’s, seats in the auditorium that are broken, an entire 3rd floor that needs renovating to be useful, an aquatic center that needs updating and repair, basic painting and updating and building maintenance that clearly has not been done in a very, very, very long time.

The year my son began at Shawnee as a freshman, Eastern High School (our resides school), opened its doors that school year with a new auditorium and a face lift to the tune of $31 million dollars. That was 2013. Here we are, November of 2016, and still Shawnee sits in disrepair day in and day out. Can you imagine what it would be like to work or go to school there? How depressing? The perception you might have – that no one gives a damn about you – because if someone did why, at the very least, wouldn’t they take care of basic things like appropriate toilet facilities and windows?

Maybe if the building was attended to, students and staff would feel appreciated, valued, cared for and morale might improve just a little bit. Maybe students would take pride in their school. Maybe they would learn that being responsible means taking care of the building they use and the people that make up their school community. Maybe if you set the example, maybe if you do the right thing the young people, you have been entrusted to serve, will follow.

I guess a mom can dream too.

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