Weighing the cost
September 28, 2021
In high school, most students highly anticipate joining new clubs and sports — some are freshmen already looking to pad their college applications while others simply want to gain new experiences and have fun. Although the amount of opportunities may seem infinite, the resources required to take advantage of them certainly are not. A student at West, who wishes to remain anonymous, has one car for their family. This creates a barrier for transportation and has stopped them from pursuing their interests.
“My dad works five days a week, and … my dad drives [my mom] to [work]. It’s really hard for us to get a time so that our dad can drive us since I don’t have a driver’s license,” the anonymous source said.
The transportation roadblock extends beyond parental unavailability — public transportation or carpools are difficult to coordinate around the anonymous source’s schedule. They believe missing out on extracurricular activities will affect not only their high school experience but also their post-secondary opportunities.
“First of all, you don’t get the experience of leadership or working in a team, which is a huge part of being in high school,” they said. “Second of all, it really detriments the process of college applications … because [extracurriculars are] a really huge part of that, and if you have nothing to put in there … then it’s going to conflict [with] your future and where you’re going to go.”
These disadvantages are reflected on a larger scale. A 2015 study investigating the relationship between income and extracurricular participation found that the participation gap between lower and middle to high-income students is widening. Head Speech and Debate coach John Cooper understands how this disparity is perpetuated in the form of high school students who have to spend time working.
“There are kids who work because they have to,” Cooper said. “They will not have time for debate. I don’t like it, but that’s just … a structure that’s bigger than the building; that’s our society. Some kids just have to work.”
The anonymous source believes the district is not doing enough to address these issues.
“I feel like [the district] is pretty ignorant in their efforts because West High has been here for a pretty long time, and [West] is an excellent school, but they haven’t really assessed this,” the anonymous source said. “It’s kind of gone into a hole where there’s no communication.”
I feel like [the district] is pretty ignorant in their efforts.”