Letter to the Editor: Support ORR facilities
To the Editor,
Along with public safety, education is the primary responsibility of a community. A conversation with any college admissions officer confirms that extra-curricular activities
such as drama and athletics, are pivotal parts of this education. They provide real-world experience in teamwork, self-sacrifice, problem solving, resiliency, and (for athletics) sportsmanship. These experiences, and the lifelong health benefits of sports, will serve OR students beyond graduation. Therefore, this community must ensure that the school facilities not only are safe and meet the minimum requirements for participation, but also promote participation. This will increase the desirability of our school system for potential property owners and new families.
The safety of the current facilities is, at best, debatable. The grassless, frequently muddy, and severely-rutted OR fields have and will continue to expose our children to injuries such as ACL tears, sprained or broken ankles and groin pulls. More ominously, these same defects and the bare, hard-packed dirt we call fields promote head injury from collisions and turn any fall into a potential concussion.
As they now exist, neither the drama facilities nor athletic fields meet minimum standards. The lighting system in the auditorium is non-functional, requiring rental of a temporary system to put on performances. Without the rentals, drama members are left with only few rapidly-failing, manually-operated spotlights. Additionally, the rigging system is failing and the soundboard is aging.
For sports, playoff games have been moved to Tabor because of the state of our fields. Games are routinely cancelled due to flooding. The possibility of opposing teams refusing to play at OR or officials deeming the fields unsafe for play becomes more likely with each season of use. Despite a powerful track program, our track is in disrepair. The surface is sometimes worn to pavement, limiting traction and worsening the stress of impact. Subsequently, we are unable to host the conference championships or invitationals and have moved meets to our opponents’ tracks.
Our fields and auditorium are (quite literally in the case of the auditorium, where Town Meeting and other town events are held) the gathering place of our community. We should ensure they are at least safe and functional and, at best, a source of pride and a manifestation of our commitment to our children. When restored, both facilities promise to bring in revenue from rentals.
Opponents have raised many objections to this program. It has been described as Olympic-style and promoted by a special interest group. This hyperbole could not be further from the truth. The proposal has been scaled back dramatically in scope and cost (at least $2.5 million less than the original plan) as the committees and individuals involved worked with the towns to decrease the financial impact. There is no allowance for bathrooms, new scoreboard, permanent concession stand, redone baseball and softball fields, or a second turf field. Hardly an Olympic-worthy plan! As for the alleged special interest group, if you mean parents, coaches, directors, actors, and athletes who share pride in our school and towns and are giving of their time, money, and effort to make it the best it can be…. guilty as charged.
Others have inspected (or walked on) the facilities and deemed them not as bad as portrayed. Having not coached or played sports been part of a play at OR, I defer to those who are pleading for functional facilities. Some question the safety of turf fields, especially the filler. There are no scientific studies substantiating any lifelong risk to athletes who play on turf fields, only hearsay, fearmongering, and hyperbole. As parents of a lacrosse and field hockey goalie who has spent the last 6 years playing and often lying on turf and as emergency and family physicians, we have absolutely no concerns regarding the safety of turf…. none!
Finally, there is the cost. Simply put, if we are not willing to make this investment in our school — arguably the most visible and used symbol of our community — what are we willing to invest in? For approximately the price of 2 family pizzas per year per household we can restore the pride, image, and safety of our school and, by extension, our community.
Mark J. Tenerowicz
Cailtin L. Mann
3 Ridgewood Rd