On Dec. 11, the adults in Shirley and Ayer will go to the polls to decide the future quality of the high school athletic fields. This decision will also impact all parents, grandparents, families and spectators of high school athletics, extracurricular activities and events.
Yes, it impacts football and soccer and track and baseball and softball players. It also impacts students who take physical education class, graduate from high school, marching band members, cheerleaders, youth football and soccer and Relay for Life attendees, to name a few. It will also impact people with mobility challenges, because in 1964 there was no Americans with Disabilities Act. With this project they will easily access the space and the seating they deserve just like every other attendee.
The Fire Department is not using 1964 trucks to put out fires and the Police Department is not driving 1964 Ford Galaxies, the DPW is not using 1964 dump trucks and rotary phones are a thing of the past. We have moved forward. As taxpayers we have supported the move forward because the technology has improved, vehicles and equipment are safer and more economical in the long run.
The fields are the same. The project will create a campus that addresses the needs of the students and community today. Safer, more flexible, more accessible and better equipped to deal with the demands of the 21st century student, school and community. Extracurricular activities, athletics, community events are all important components of an educational experience that builds successful and productive members of the community.
Don’t be distracted by alternate ideas and notions that suggest it is the fields or the elementary schools. These are false arguments used to divide a voting public into little factions. It is not just a concession stand, there is no alternate plan and it is not this or the elementary schools. If you do not want to vote “yes” to support the youth in the community, that is your right, but don’t spread false notions or equivalencies. A large committee of educators, professionals and community members spent a year studying the issues, concerns and needs of the fields, the students and the community. We looked at dozens of possible plans and we unanimously agreed to bring this option forward because it addresses the needs of today and is flexible enough to address future needs.
Earlier this decade Ayer and Shirley accepted the responsibility for delivering a great education. We reversed the choice-out trend that was decimating the schools, and replaced it with a thriving, high-performing district that is winning awards in academics, athletics, robotics, music and the arts.
It is time to finish the job. Vote “yes” to create a space where our students can compete and perform and learn safely. Vote “yes” for a physical campus that is open to all visitors and spectators. Vote “yes” because the time is now, and it is our responsibility.
(The author is a member of the Ayer Shirley Regional High School Athletics Fields Subcommittee.)