In my 45 years in Wakefield, I have been a witness to two important, extremely significant land use choices, both centered around these six words ‘To spend or not to spend’.
The first, was whether or not to purchase a large estate on Silver Lake that would have been utilized for swimming, boating and as a Community Center. The second, was whether or not to support the transitioning of the old RR tracks into a bike path. Now we are faced with a third great land use dilemma: whether or not to build a new high school at Curtis Corner.
In the first choice from our past, SK decided not to purchase the Silver Lake property, a regret for everyone who still recognizes what would have been possible and in the second instance, well, I’m sure you’ve used and enjoyed the bike path regularly.
I am in favor of moving the high school, but not without some reservations. I believe the costs are reasonable compared to its return, both educationally and financially. A Curtis Corner campus gives SK the opportunity, if we are willing to push the creative borders a bit, to create a cutting edge campus, one that will both provide incredible opportunities for active and passive outdoor recreation, but also become the center-piece of a District-wide, cutting edge curriculum, built around the idea of ‘systems learning’, one in which the concept of ‘interconnectedness’ is front and center. This new high school would utilize the school, inside and out, to prepare our students for the post pandemic world, one that will deeply be in need of a new way of thinking and doing. This merger of the intellectual, artistic and practical with attention to sustainability, ‘out of the box thinking’ and cooperatively based learning through real world issues, would certainly attract students from around the state looking for a school that ‘matters.’
If we would be willing to take this bold leap, our high school could become a nationally-known, cutting edge center for green and sustainable, intellectually and vocationally stimulating education; an educational facility where our students would not only learn ‘facts’ but more importantly thinking, civic engagement and practical skills geared to learning how to create a sustainable, diverse and egalitarian world. This blend of scholarship and ‘doing’, of students taking an active role in their education and being participants in the ongoing creation of their ‘community’ will inspire to them learn, motivated by a desire to ‘make a difference’, for themselves, their family, their community and indeed for the globe.
I am someone who favored keeping the high school ‘in Town’. I liked its connection with the ‘real world’ of commerce and socialization, I came to understand that the costs of repairing our old high school or building a new one at the same location was prohibitively high and in fact, would jeopardize financial support from the state. To stall this process any longer would do the same.
Please, friends and neighbors, when you are in the voting booth think for a second about what out town would be like without the Bike Path and how wonderful it would have been if Silver Lake had been preserved for us all. Without a doubt, there are no certainties when it comes to community planning but throughout our own history we have learned that great things can only emerge from boldness, while fear leads too often only to stagnation. I invite us all to dream together.