12-year-olds in the high school? Not new in Sandwich

Editor's note: The following letter was received in response to yesterday's editorial by Walter Brooks entitled, "Educating 12-year-olds and 18-year-olds together".

To the Editor:

This is NOT a new concept for Sandwich; I repeat NOT a new concept for Sandwich schools!

When Sandwich High first opened back in the mid to late 70s and all through the 80s (until the other two K-8 schools were built) it was called the Sandwich Junior/Senior High School because it went from 7th to 12th grade.  I know because I went there for all 6 of my junior and senior high school years.  There were different start times, different buses, different bell schedules, different lunches, different passing with little to no crossing.  The town moved away from the 7-12 model when it decided that instead of building one K-5 school and turning the Wing into a middle school (that was already equipped with labs etc. as it used to be the high school), it would receive better funding if it built two new K-8 schools and turned the Wing into K-8 (yes that’s three K-8 schools and on 9-12 high school).  History tends to repeat itself and we really should learn from it, so one should study the pros and cons from Sandwich’s past, compare grades and SAT scores, town education ranking, etc. from when it was a junior/senior high to a similar time period now.  Also research what discipline issues were then vs. now in the same time period.  Let’s look at the actual facts before a decision is made one way or another.  Look at the schools now, we have 5-year-olds in the same schools as 14-year-olds, which are controlled by different start times, different buses, different lunches etc.

Let’s do our due diligence in researching this move before it is made. Dazzle me with data.

Perhaps it’s feasible to turn either Forestdale or Oak Ridge into a middle school (6-9 or 5-8) leaving the other for an elementary school (K-5/6), leave the high school (9/10 – 12) as just that and turn the 1927 Wing building into the school administration and community school building, tearing down everything but the 1927 building, multi-purpose room and gym with locker rooms (which get used all the time).  They could then use the Wing area, which has 4 baseball fields some with lights, multiple soccer fields, a small basketball court, a snack shack and gazebo; and add the two Pop Warner fields (the current Pop Warner land is for sale and will eventually be going away when the town finally finds a buyer for the “golden” triangle).  There even used be four tennis courts that are now being torn down because they are falling apart due to being built on top of wetlands; funny thing about them, there was never a problem with those courts when the town maintained them, but 15 years of neglect will have a negative impact on them whether they are built on quick sand or at Wimbledon.  They have always been on top of a stream and wetland area but stood the test of time for 30 or more years while they were actually maintained.

If like Dr. Canfield says it is safe for the 7th and 8th graders to ride the same buses as the high school kids because “there are HD cameras in the buses” then why can’t the 5th-8th graders or anyone that needs to go to a friend’s house during one of the 13+ half days in the district ride another student's bus, or stay after school for extra help ride a later bus home like they were always allowed to?  Dr. Canfield says they can’t due to student safety? AHHH, Dr Canfield which is it?  Why is Dr. Canfield making it so difficult for students of WORKING parents?  A lot of these parents work beyond 3:30 p.m. and can’t be home to pick their child up from extra help/make up so the kids end up suffering, the district will end up suffering with lower test/MCAS scores, more students will leave Sandwich for better performing schools and we will eventually be in a bigger pickle than we are now.

Stop “marketing” the school system and focus on education.  People used to move TO Sandwich because of the schools now we are leaving because of them.

Peter Martin
Sandwich, MA

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