Winning the Sturgis Lottery [Letter to the Editor]

Editor's note: The following letter by a recent Sturgis grad is in response to "Mashpee attacks Sturgis as school competition heats up" by Walter Brooks which reported on the  "Bloomfield Report" written by a Mashpee School Board member criticizing the Sturgis Public High School lottery. For more on the subject read "Harwich High School AP government students compare Cape Cod high schools".

To the Editor:

When applying to attend Sturgis, most students consider the outstanding curriculum, the atmosphere, or the faculty. But for two young applicants, it's something entirely different.

"We don't have lockers at our old school," said eighth graders Makaila Lyons and Hannah Taylor, who attend Rising Tide Charter School in Plymouth. "We want them; they're so beautiful." They were two of the 243 hopeful candidates that applied to be freshmen for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year at Sturgis.

They would later high-five each other after both were selected within the first 100 students. So besides beautiful lockers, Makaila and Hannah are guaranteed a Sturgis education.

The highly anticipated annual lottery took place at the school on January 14. The first 100 students are admitted into the Freshmen class, while the remaining go on the waiting list. Emotions ran high among the 42 hopeful adults and students present in the public meeting, which took place in room 204.

"I'm nervous," said parent Christine Thomas. "My daughter goes to Rising Tide. She's the one that found [Sturgis] first."

Russell Lyons, father of Makaila Lyons, explained how he became interested in Sturgis. "The school talked about the different options for Rising Tide, one of them was Sturgis, so I did some research and went to the open house."

There were a number of 8th grade students present hoping their names would be called. "Originally, I didn't want to go, but then I really wanted to," said Makaila. "A lot of kids from our old school went here and loved it," said Hannah. Both of them confessed to being very nervous and anxious for the event to begin.

Finally, at 2:01 p.m., the lottery began. Mr. Hieser opened with a speech offering optimism. He said that he had high hopes that a new campus will be established by the upcoming school year and that most students on the waiting list will be accepted if that is the case. Then, all who were gathered waited in anticipation, as -- one by one -- the names were called. The count started at number 23 because 22 were siblings of current Sturgis students, which, according to state law, are automatically accepted. The first 100 students would be accepted immediately, while the remaining 143 would go on the waiting list. Rita Zuccarello drew the names from the basket. The person who does this cannot be affiliated with the school in any way so it is impossible for the lottery to be sabotaged. According to Mrs. Todoroff, the school secretary, Rita was a Cape Cod visitor from St. Louis.

As the names of eager students were announced, families displayed their excitement with jubilant cheers or silent smiles. When numbers 36 and 67 were proclaimed, one corner of the room exploded as those were the names of Makaila and Hannah, respectively. The screams were the loudest when Hannah found out she was accepted, as these good friends were now assured of being in school together next year.

The mood changed dramatically after the 100th name was announced. There were many sighs, shaking heads, and long faces. A young girl walked out crying with her older sister and parent after discovering she was past No. 30 on the waiting list. By the time the waiting list ended at No.143, there were only 14 remaining people in the room.

One parent expressed her reaction to the lottery results. "I was here for a friend. His son had applied and he made it in so he's very excited," said Maureen Starr, a current Sturgis parent.

After the lottery was over, a parent and his daughter came to the office to see if she got into Sturgis. This girl had a very high number on the waiting list and Mrs. Todoroff had to break the bad news. "It's very difficult to tell someone that they're a high number on the waiting list," said Todoroff.

It was remarkable how high emotions can run in such a small room. It was understandable though. In a school where everyone is socially accepted, where the curriculum is among the best in the world, where the teachers really care about their students, and where most of the students actually enjoy coming to school, there really is nothing like winning the lottery.

Connor Read
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