I was amazed to see an editorial in the Dispatch,
written by the Dispatch staff, and a letter to the editor on September 24th, that contained so much innuendo and
misinformation about the Westerville School District that I feel
compelled to respond.
The editorial titled, Westerville Where? does a great disservice to the entire community of Westerville. It implies that the administration and
the Board of Education did not take time or make an effort to find the best solution possible with regard to redistricting
and states that it removes any sense of community. Indeed the opposite is true. The redistricting committee worked diligently
to assign neighborhood areas to the same high school attendance area.
The Westerville School District is NOT your
typical suburban school district; it comprises seven municipalities, as well as over 52 square miles and is the 9th
largest district in the State of Ohio, with over 14,000 students. Its size alone creates
problems other suburban school districts do not have. Yet the district strives to balance diversity in all its school populations,
which is no small feat.
The historical boundaries of the Westerville school district extend
from Morse Road in the south to Big Walnut Road in the north, east to the eastern edge of the Hoover reservoir, and west to Cleveland Avenue. There is often confusion about importing students or allowing students from outside the City of Westerville to attend these schools.
The school districts southern boundary of Morse Road has existed since the 1800s where the Brick School House on Cherry Bottom
and Morse Roads was built, but it is in the northern part of the district in Delaware County homes are now being built. Students from outside the Westerville city or village limits have always attended Westerville Schools since the 1800s. There are 90
different languages spoken within our schools, representing students from 43 countries.
Each student in our schools should be allowed to experience this diversity.
The editorial even mocked the name of the
newest high school in that it is not centrally located in the district. Granted, it is not a particularly imaginative name;
however, it is consistent with the other schools and eliminates the problem of having one named school and two others geographically
named. This avoids the possible class problem that could occur if it were the only named school.
Populations at all three high schools were
carefully assigned to represent a cross-section of the district. This was done to avoid having one school or another be labeled
as the rich kids school, but instead to mirror our diverse community. Our four middle schools are not feeder schools and,
therefore, students from each middle school attend all three high schools. This process allows students to have friends at
each high school, and it reduces rivalries so endemic to other district high school populations. The Dispatch article even
referred to the years when the North-South game had to be cancelled due to the seriousness of the rivalry. The North-South
game has been very successful for the last 16 years without any major incident, thanks in part, to the fact that we do not
have feeder middle schools. Ours is the only district in central Ohio that currently has its high schools play each other. This is something the entire Westerville community is proud
of and has reason to be, and when Westerville Central joins in the rivalry in a year or two, the same friendly competition
The Dispatch stated school leaders could
think of some positive ways to focus students and their parents attention on doing well in school, having fun in extracurricular
activities, representing their school well in and around Westerville things to be really proud ofrather than on who has cooler
clothes and a better car. The author of this statement apparently has not been in Westerville, or in its schools, lately to see that
this has always been the focus of the Westerville schools.
Each of our high schools takes great pride
in its internal community as well as the community of Westerville. Each one has its unique atmosphere, its unique traditions.
The primary focus at each high school is to provide a safe learning environment for our students. Our students excel
academically and athletically and spend countless hours in community service in and around Westerville. I urge the editorial
staff at the Dispatch to visit each of our high schools and see for themselves the quality learning taking place in Westerville.
It is inflammatory and inaccurate editorializing
that causes rifts in communities. Letters to the editor by uninformed residents who purport to live in Westerville for 27
years, yet are so unaware of how the school district was formed or how it is operated, cause such misinformation to be blatantly
spread throughout the community. The Dispatch has a responsibility to its readers to fully research the information available
and present it responsibly to the public, setting an example to the letter-writing public. This editorial and Letter to the
Editor clearly misrepresent Westerville and all it stands for.