Cape Cod Tech teacher responds to recent "sit-in" and comments about Harwich school

Editor's note: The following letter addressed to the Cape Cod Regional Technical High School community was written by Kristen Nowack, an English teacher at the school. Ms. Nowack's letter is in response to both the recent "sit in" at the school and a poll.

November 24, 2009

Dear Cape Cod Regional Technical High School community,

The laws of physics and Nature have much to teach us as human beings.  When you throw a rock into a pond, there are ripples that extend outward from the place of impact, where the rock enters the water.  The pond is now altered.  Likewise, you can also never step into the same river twice.  Try as we might, we can repeatedly attempt to enter the river, wishing it was the same, but time and the forces of nature move on rapidly and without remorse. To put it another way, for every action, there is a reaction.  Once words are spoken and written, they cannot be taken back.

Our school is currently garnering a lot of attention from the media, and from the Cape Cod community at large.  Much of this attention is negative and destructive in nature, even though the intent of the sit-in was designed to be a positive place to voice concerns.   The students have been heard and some of the policies in the school are being changed as a result.  There are many positive and commendable features of this entire process.  However, I became aware last night that our school is currently the topic of “This Week’s Question” on Cape Cod Today online.  The question states;

I urge you; I implore you, to speak truly from your heart when you sayhow you feel about this school.  Spread the word about youraccomplishments as a student, a teacher, or an administrator.  Let thecommunity know what we do every day at Cape Cod Tech well, and why weare proud to be here.

How do you feel about Cape Tech in Harwich?

  • Good school that deserves our support.
  • Sub-standard school, needs improvement.
  • School that is out of control.
  • Shut it down, convert to new regional HS.

Readers are asked to vote on their opinion.  There are also many disturbing comments that readers of the site wrote.  They cut and pasted statements of our students from the Facebook site (“Cape Cod Tech is a joke”) to use as examples of their poor writing skills and disrespect for their school.  They are basing their opinions of our student body, and the work we do as educators, on this Facebook site, and on the media coverage of the events from Friday, November 20, 2009. Granted, this is one site and one example of the community’s reaction to the recent sit-in at our school, but I do not doubt that there are many people in the community forming their individual opinions about our school as the events unfold.  I also wonder if the perceptions that are formed will sway their financial votes for the school when the time comes. 

I personally do not feel that the events of Friday and the Facebook site represent everything we do at Cape Cod Tech.  I am inclined to say that it was a small group of students who wrote on the Facebook site and said things they may regret at a later date.  They are responsible for their actions.  However, it affects us all.  We are a community.  I personally am very proud of my students this year, and over the years.  I told my students today that I am proud of who they are, that I think of them as fine young adults, and that I believe in their ability to become productive, positive members of society, wherever they choose to live and follow their dreams.   I also told them I am saddened by the destructive storm that currently blows over our school.

I strongly feel that we, as a building of administrators, teachers, and students, have a powerful tool at our disposal.  We need to pick up this tool and use it to rebuild our reputation and face that we present to the community and world outside our walls.  This tool is the power of our words and the feelings in our hearts.  Students who may be regretting what they wrote or said can turn this into something positive.  I urge you; I implore you, to speak truly from your heart when you say how you feel about this school.  Spread the word about your accomplishments as a student, a teacher, or an administrator.  Let the community know what we do every day at Cape Cod Tech well, and why we are proud to be here. 

We have an opportunity to turn the tide of this event into something quite positive for our school.  When the fire is raging at you, do you turn and run away from it and let it spread its destructive path, or do you face it head on?  Like the Phoenix, we can be re-born, and we can rise out of the ashes of destruction.  Let’s throw another rock into the pond, and this time, let’s show the world who we really are.  Let’s show the world the high mark that we can rise to, and once again, let’s be proud to come to Cape Cod Tech.


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