School redistricting protects Centennial
I am writing in response to a recent article that discusses contention regarding redistricting for Howard County High Schools.
Once again, Centennial High School stands in the controversy's forefront. As the "top" school in Howard County, Centennial attracts the ire and envy of many county residents. Those excluded from Centennial are bitter, including the residents of Worthington highlighted in your article, who contend that they belong in Centennial although they live six miles away. Those included feel privileged. But the honest reality is that despite the fact that Centennial has a skewed population, never being saddled with many children from poor-testing neighborhoods, it is just another high school, no better or worse than the others.
Although the neighborhood [where] I live, Dorseys Search, is surrounded by communities that attend Centennial High School, we have been gerrymandered out of Centennial and placed in the Wilde Lake High School district. During the present redistricting, many people in our community hoped that we would be placed back into Centennial, since that is our natural high school. The allure of Centennial, with its academic reputation and its propensity to increase real estate values, has obvious appeal. But for two reasons, the redistricting process convinced me that remaining in Wilde Lake is the best course of action.
Although I am a strong proponent of keeping elementary school students together throughout high school, and although we are the only neighborhood in our elementary school bused to Wilde Lake, the parents of students already in Wilde Lake convinced me that splitting from our neighborhood was not a bad thing. They spoke passionately and vehemently about their desire to stay at Wilde Lake. They love the school, and hated the prospect of changing. To them, the loss of elementary school friendships means nothing when compared to what students gain from the diverse population and academic opportunities available at Wilde Lake High School.
The second revelation occurred when I tried to ascertain which high school would best help my kids get into a good college. Does Centennial's reputation translate into better college placement? The answer is no. Although the Centennial staff put me through the third degree before giving me a list of colleges their students attended (as contrasted to the Wilde Lake staff who invited me in and answered all my questions), I did find out that college placement between the two schools was virtually identical. If anything, Wilde Lake students attended more "most competitive" colleges.
Again and again the redistricting process works to protect Centennial's reputation. Without a "bottom" of the class, Centennial maintains high average scores compared to other schools, and is thus always cited as the county's best school. But to a discerning parent who looks beyond reputation and real estate values, there is little evidence that Centennial will provide a better or more productive education than any other county school. In fact, the diversity of a school like Wilde Lake, combined with its excellent college placement, might even give it an edge over the county's premier high school.
Redistricting is a painful process, and it is abundantly clear to many of us that certain forces are always acting on Centennial's behalf. But to those of us excluded from Centennial's privileged world, it's nice to know that our kids will do just fine, too.
Student feels isolated by boundary plan
My name is Tori Peck, I live in the Fairways development, and I am a freshman at Centennial High School. In the superintendent's redistricting plan for Howard County, my neighborhood is being moved to the new high school, Marriott's Ridge. Mine is the only neighborhood on Centennial Lane that will be redistricted.
I can walk to Centennial High School, as well as to many of my classmates' houses. If my neighborhood is redistricted, I won't be able to walk to anyone's house without crossing a major road, such as Route 40. In the past, I've completed group projects for which I walked to my partners' homes. When we needed supplies, we would walk right through my neighborhood on our way to CVS or Crafts Plus. If I go to Marriott's Ridge, I'll need to get a ride to my classmates' houses. I can't drive myself because I won't be getting my license for another two years, and with so many working parents it's hard to even get a ride.
Hillary Clinton has said, "It takes a village to raise a child." I have always felt very much a part of my community, my village. The superintendent's plan isolates me from my village, throwing me unprepared and alone into a completely separate community altogether. Not only is the redistricting of my neighborhood inappropriate, it's devastating to the people affected by it.
Selective redistricting is not the answer