Countdown to Denny/Sealth vote: One student’s opinion

With the public meetings over, discussion and feedback are all that’s left till Seattle School Board members vote on the Denny/Sealth project one week from Wednesday. (All WSB coverage archived here.) The feedback that matters the most is that which you give to board members — once again, their contact info is here. There also has been a lot of spirited discussion online, on this website and elsewhere (including here and here), as well as in the public-testimony time at the start of board meetings. One of the Chief Sealth High School students who has spoken to the board, and at public meetings on the project here in West Seattle, is Duron Jones. He sent WSB a copy of a letter he said he has sent to the board, and asked us if we would post it. We are doing so with an invitation for any student with a different opinion to send us their thoughts, which we also would be happy to post.

I’m Duron Jones, a sophomore at Chief Sealth High School (CSHS). I’m sure this opening is something that sounds familiar to the Seattle Public School (SPS) board, as it should since I have spoken to them in public testimonial on several occasions. However I feel that my voice and opinion has fallen on deaf ears as well as the voices and opinions of every single student who let their voices be heard via survey and polls.

The first attempt to gain student body voice resulted in 278 against the co-location of the schools and 5 were for the co-location of the schools. To prove that these results weren’t a fluke we recently surveyed the students with a survey that allowed them to state their concerns and what they believed to be the positives of a co-located school, a survey in which John Boyd himself looked at and fixed up, might I add. That survey resulted in 70% of the students being opposed to option 2, 19% being neutral, and 11% being for option 2, however when it came down to option 3, 25% opposed it, 16% was neutral, and 59% were in favor of option 3. This shows that the Chief Sealth student body may not agree with every aspect of option 3 but we believe it to be in the better interest of the students compared to option 2. Might I also add the students will be the ones who have to deal with the fallouts of a merge campus and not the SPS board.

I’m sure you as well as the board are wondering why there are not masses of CSHS students standing up to speak their voice as they do on surveys, but they do not wish to stand up because they fear the consequences that they could possibly face for just using their right to free speech. Then when they do decide to get involved they are made to feel not welcomed.

But my reason for writing this is not to talk about protocol on how to do things when it comes to students speaking. I am writing this to air the opinions and stances of the students. It has been stated that the board believes violence wouldn’t increase with option 2, safety wouldn’t decrease with option 2, and more students would apply to Sealth via option 2. The life blood of Chief Sealth High School, being the students concur with their thoughts as 67% of the student body believes violence will increase with option 2 as 8% believes it will decrease and 25% believes it will stay the same. When it came down to students applying to Chief Sealth if option 2 was to happen, only 20% believed more students would apply and 54% believed less would apply as 26% believed it would stay the same.

Before I get into the commentary of the students I believe it needs to be stated for the record that when it came down to the academic benefits question, a horse the board has rode to death for why it’s a good idea to combine the campuses, as well as the question of what positives come from option 2. No students who were in favor of option 2 were able to answer those questions however students who were for option 3 were able to answer those questions. But when they were asked what academic affects would option 2 have they responded with middle schoolers imitating the high schoolers’ actions thus doing terribly in class, the drop out and skipping rates will increase, as well as a new building placed next to Sealth causing distractions and animosity. But there was a positive comment in the crowd and that was there would be more options for what you could do in classes, so the board should pat themselves on the back for that small achievement.

When it came to the question of what are your concerns about BEX III option 2 we received countless statements about the safety of Denny’s students, the negative influences of high schoolers to middle schoolers, the loss of identity for both schools, Sealth students admitted they wouldn’t receive Denny students with open arms, fears about it becoming a repeat of Pathfinder, fears about it becoming an exclusive international school, as well as concerns about being targeted due to us being a colored school. Also one of the biggest concerns addressed was the loss of a great group of teaching staff. However when asked about some of the positives this project holds we received replies of and I quote, “Nothing that truly couldn’t be done with the schools staying on their own separate campuses,” so the board should give themselves a hand for that one.

As I looked over the boards reply to the meeting on February 4th I realized we truly don’t have the option to pick an option as we are stuck with option 2. Something that truly disturbs me is when a member of the design and construction team answers my question of, “Why aren’t there any drawings or figures of option 3?” with “We were told to do drawings of option 2 only and not option 3,” Now I love money as much as the next but when you compare it to the well being of a child and it’s future they don’t equal out. Then I listened to one of Steve Sundquist replies for the meeting at Sealth on the 5th of February where he talked about this project is being used to stop the drop out gaps from 8th to 9th, well maybe it hasn’t made it to the boards doorsteps yet but there is an excellent program currently in Sealth called Ignite Mentors where we the students aid Freshmen through their Freshman year and make sure they do what they have to and I’m sure any of my colleagues or mentees would speak and say this program has worked so far and will continue to work and with that statement, if you haven’t processed it yet, my point is the drop out rates are covered. I used to believe the board to be the protectors and justice seekers of the students however now I see they are no different then the men & women who currently hold office in the United States of America. I asked them to prove me wrong on that thought and actually listen to us. However we will see if that falls on deaf ears as everything else has.

Again, we would love to hear from a Sealth — or Denny (middle-schoolers can be eloquent too; we know this firsthand) — student who supports the shared campus; we have certainly heard a lot from adults on both sides. E-mail us any time.

18 Replies to "Countdown to Denny/Sealth vote: One student's opinion"

  • PSPS February 16, 2008 (8:47 am)

    This may be off-topic, but was that letter from the high-school student transcribed into the post or was it a “cut and paste” job?

    If it was the latter, I’m somewhat disappointed because it loses a lot of impact with the numerous spelling and grammatical errors.

  • Debbie February 16, 2008 (10:44 am)

    Kudos to Duron Jones for having the courage and tenacity to stand before a panel of adults (SSB) and attempt to educate them about the reality of his learning environment that exists outside their financial box.

    Yes, PSPS you are off-topic. At least Duron is not claiming that he was mis-quoted, or that he wasn’t paying attention.

  • westello February 16, 2008 (10:53 am)

    Duron wasn’t writing his college essay; he was pouring his heart about his school.

    But while he was doing it, he managed to make some very good points like the Ignite Mentor program (a peer program that already exists).

    What impresses me is that the Sealth students are worried about the Denny students. It’s not just a case of “get off our turf” but that they believe there will be bad outcomes for the Denny students. Maybe some of the Sealth students have younger sibs at Denny.

    Sealth students also worry about losing teachers and that means they are thinking about academics and not just “hey, we’re losing our softball field” (which they will under Option 1/2).

    To Duron – welcome to activism!

  • Indaknow February 16, 2008 (5:12 pm)

    Now I’m scared to post in case someone is correcting my grammatical errors! Duron, thank you for taking the time to express your opinion. I have seen you at the same meetings I have attended and I admire that you care enough to “put your neck on the line”. Good for you. I would love to see more student opinions.

  • Diana February 16, 2008 (7:26 pm)

    I am not involved in this issue and I will not comment on it. I do want to say that Duron Jones should be commended for his concerns, research, activisim, and school involvement. There has been a lot of criticism lately about “teens” and the paths they have chosen to take. Duron has taken a leadership role in an issue that is important to him, his school, and his peers. To Duron I send you a “high five!” As a community we should applaud his efforts.

  • WSB February 16, 2008 (7:33 pm)

    Of all the things we either ban or discourage here at WSB regarding comments/forum posts, I’m not going to ban grammar/spelling critiques, but I will say they’re fairly pointless in most instances; we should all strive for perfect spelling and grammar but if we don’t achieve it, well, unless we’re submitting job applications/resumes or writing in some other context that demands precision, it’s the thought that counts. And you can consider the source on that – I spent a couple years producing a then-popular blog ( that existed SOLELY to make fun of typos!

  • Duron Jones February 16, 2008 (9:39 pm)

    I’m sure the spelling mistakes you speak of surround how I spelled schoolers and mentees, which showed up as misspelled on several places I stuck my testimonial to check the spelling. I realize mentees is not an actual word however it is the word the people I work for gave the freshmen and that is what they are referred to as. And when it comes to schoolers it was a term used by my own teachers and it’s a lot shorter then writing out “… school students” every time.
    But if there were other spelling mistakes that you caught that Microsoft Word did not catch do let me know so I can e-mail them and let them know their system isn’t working right.

  • Michael February 17, 2008 (6:28 pm)

    I’m happy a student is participating – Duron, you seem to have done more work than any adult who opposes the co-location – but I still wait (in vain, I believe now) for SOME smart anti-colocation person to present some actual facts, you know, to demonstrate why it would be a bad idea, instead of “I think/we think/they think.”
    In fact this is all leading me to lean towards the co-location, because surely someone against it would have come up with some factual evidence or precedent by now, so none must exist.

  • Steve Taylor February 17, 2008 (7:47 pm)

    Michael, if your desire is to have “facts”, possibly you should do more work than an incredible sophomore high school student and dig up some “facts” that you consider important to you. Then you could share the facts you find with us, instead of asking of facts from us. Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • Meena February 18, 2008 (12:13 pm)

    Any reason my post was deleted? Or does the censorhip of information strech on here?

  • Cori February 18, 2008 (2:36 pm)

    Who cares whether Duron has spelling errors or not. That is most definitely not the idea of his letter. So maybe you should focus more on what he is saying and less on the “grammatical errors” you people find ammusing. As a student at Chief Sealth as well, I congradulate him on taking a stand!

  • Steve Taylor February 18, 2008 (4:28 pm)

    I have had a post or two I thought did not post, however possibly I simply posted it elsewhere and forgot? I have had the same post, post to to different threads. When I only posted to one thread. I thought that was rather curious. Best of luck to you Meena. Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • Indaknow February 18, 2008 (5:47 pm)

    So the good news is, if we get Option 2 and it is a grand failure, at least we can provide the actual and factual evidence that Michael so desires to some other community considering this….

  • Indaknow February 18, 2008 (5:51 pm)

    FYI (if interested)
    this link will take you to the West Coast 6-12 school in California that someone mentioned earlier on the blog. This school is very big. Check out the “Accountability Report Card” tab on the left. I hope this is not what we are aspiring towards. I cannot find any detailed info about the school in terms of how much the kids actually interact…

  • Marlene Allbright February 18, 2008 (6:28 pm)

    Thanks for the link, Indaknow. The test scores are pretty revealing.

  • Steve Taylor February 19, 2008 (9:22 am)

    Marlene Albright, as much as we both know I only support BEX III, option 3. We both know test scores can be deceiving when bilingual / ESL students (like at Chief Sealth) are factored in. Here is a curious thing about attendance information that was brought to my attention. When select students are repeatedly tardy or absent, without a properly excused reason for such. A principal or attendance secretary can overrule protocol and see to it that those students attendance records do not negatively affect a school’s reported attendance history. I am told such is a common trick at the elementary school level. Such is also the case at a local school (not Chief Sealth, that I am aware of). Some information that I believe we would all want to be public is not, and select individuals who are in a position to make such information public choose not to, for fear of repercussion. I believe it would be wise to consider all of the pros, and all of the cons, including the potentials of each when considering BEX III options. Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • Dan Dempsey February 24, 2008 (3:07 am)


    So the good news is, if we get Option 2 and it is a grand failure, at least we can provide the actual and factual evidence that Michael so desires to some other community considering this….

    Comment by Indaknow — February 18, 08 5:47 pm #

    We do not need to experiment with our kids as lab rats. There is already enough evidence in Bellflower CA that this does not work.

    The district has failed to produce any similar school in existence – so I present Bellflower CA.

    NO ONE – repeat NO one in their right mind would build a school like this that is why the SPS cannot find any examples.

    Can we rename the co-located school Edsel School, to honor all of the poorly designed failures that pseudo experts love to reconstruct in so many different ways within the SPS?

  • Indaknow February 24, 2008 (1:17 pm)

    I do agree with you Dan, I was being facetious which clearly does not always translate well in “print” ; ) I have been steadfast in my opinion that co-location is a horrible idea. For the record, I have distain for “everyday math” as well. I would never have gotten my degree from SU’s school of Science and Engineering if that was the only way I had learned math. The only reason my son has learned “traditional math” is because he has been in high-level math classes since middle school. I consider him lucky.

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