‘Draconian redistribution of wealth’ may hinder Key Club’s resurrection

Wantage. Middle school students were disappointed there was no Key Club to advance to at High Point Regional High School.

| 08 Jan 2021 | 03:24

Is there some way to resurrect High Point Regional High School’s defunct Key Club? School board member Debbie Anderson put the question to the rest of the board at its Dec. 15 meeting.

She said members of the Sussex Middle School Key Club were disappointed, once they moved up to the high school, that there was no club for them to advance to.

High Point’s Key Club was cut in 2019 because of a reduction in state aid and a decrease in student involvement.

Key Club is the youth branch of the Kiwanis Club. Superintendent Scott Ripley said he’s spoken to the Kiwanis several times over the past year and a half.

“It is regrettable,” Ripley said. “The things you mentioned are components of why that decision was made. That doesn’t mean it was an easy decision. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t important. We’re in the third year of what will likely be a $5 million state aid reduction, and we’ve already been cut $1.7 million. It means cuts are inevitable, and I don’t mean that to sound callous.”

Ripley said the club also is something the school would consider, but he stressed that the school is moving forward with what he called a “draconian redistribution of wealth.”

“That’s your tax dollars being removed from education and being moved elsewhere,” he said.

Principal Jon Tallamy said the school still offers extra-curricular activities, such as Pass It Along, which is very service-oriented and takes on smaller community projects. The school also has an Interact Club, which is Rotary’s service club for ages 12 to 18. Seamus Campbell, the director of curriculum, said the school’s staff has expanded honor societies, and that each subject area has one. Each honor society has a service component.

High Point used to have a service requirement to graduate. District officials have since shifted to “service learning” to get students more invested in serving the community. Previously, students were “forced to bring in cans of soup” to fill a requirement.

More students are invested in service learning now than the school has seen before, Ripley said. “By having that in the curriculum, it’s far more meaningful to the community and the student.”

Maryellen Glanville, secretary of the Sussex Kiwanis, wrote in a letter to the Advertiser-News, “no one had the respect or decency to advise us that we were cut from the school,” and that Kiwanis stands firm that the Key Club should return to High Point.

“I have been emailing Dr. Ripley for the last year and a half since we found out that our club was cut from the school,” she wrote. “His response never wavered. He explained that it was a decision to be made and he had to make it. Had to make cuts and Key Club was it. He also stated that there would be other clubs cut soon after.

“We understand the financial aspect of the school budget. We are all adults that pay taxes to the school. Our problem is that there was no other cuts made and we continue to see these clubs active.”

For the full text of her letter, please click here.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include Maryellen Glanville’s comment.

“We’re in the third year of what will likely be a $5 million state aid reduction and we’ve already been cut $1.7 million. It means cuts are inevitable and I don’t mean that to sound callous.” Superintendent Scott Ripley