Oklahoma is failing its students
Sophie Trachtenberg sits outside of Classen School of Advanced Studies in OKC where she is a junior. (Provided)

Whispers among the students and faculty of Classen School of Advanced Studies have gotten louder in recent days, but this buzz does not entail typical high school gossip.

Instead of discussing an upcoming math test or English essay that is due in 45 minutes, the chatter making its way down the halls of my unique Oklahoma City high school deals with a heavier subject.

Talk of budget cuts and teacher layoffs have widened the eyes of students and faculty alike, putting the entire Oklahoma City Public Schools community on edge. We’ve been informed that Classen SAS will lose nine teachers for the upcoming school year. For some of my younger peers, the reality of the situation has not settled in yet, and they jokingly make guesses as to which programs will be cut and which teachers will ultimately be asked to leave.

‘My best interest in mind’

At this time, the outlook of my education is in the hands of the state, and I cannot afford to be disappointed again by the authorities who are supposed to have my best interest in mind.

As a student at Classen SAS, I have fortunately been given the opportunity to receive one of the best educations this state has to offer. Whether you are a part of the highly commended visual and performing arts track or immersed in the rigorous international baccalaureate diploma program, Classen allows each student a chance to find his or her niche during vulnerable middle and high-school years.

This special school embraces the extraordinary talents that each student is able to offer, cultivating an environment for kids to grow both academically and artistically. To keep up with the driven students who embody the school, equally driven teachers are added into the equation, producing a balanced harmony of chaotic hard work and controlled ambition.

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Although I cannot speak on behalf of my artistically gifted peers, those of us who have embarked on the school’s international baccalaureate path understand that the stereotyped rigor of the program is, in fact, completely true, and there is no possible way to undertake the program alone.

This circumstance has brought my classmates and me close together, working as a team, in conjunction with our teachers, to complete the program through our senior year of high school properly. Without such guidance from our amazing teachers, achieving success in this program would be nearly impossible. The idea that our very own school district is going to take the most essential part of our education away is not only insulting but devastating to the students and teachers that have worked so hard for us to be awarded our international baccalaureate diplomas next spring.

Budget, teacher cuts ‘robbing my generation’

I feel as if the state is doing the education system a disservice by not funding it sufficiently, robbing my generation and the next of the educations we deserve. If there is anyone that works harder than us students, it is our teachers, spending countless hours not only preparing us for our challenging exams, but more importantly, for life beyond high school.

Being a student and an aspiring athlete, I spend almost too much time at school. Hours of homework, studying and athletic practices can be a burden on most teenagers, including me, therefore the roles my teachers and coaches play in my life become a lot greater than that of the average high school student. Between staying after school to ask questions or emailing late at night about an assignment, the hectic lives of Classen SAS students force teachers to accommodate our academic and social needs.

The state of Oklahoma is failing its students, and it would be heartbreaking to see the damages the proposed cuts would cause to my school. So, OKCPS, it is up to you to help us through this crisis: to save my education, my outstanding school and the glue of it all, my phenomenal teachers.