In a recent meeting of the Westwood School Board, a series of lively and contentious debates emerged, centering on an array of issues from flag display policies and classroom size concerns to the restructuring of the Middle School Honors Program. Local residents, students, and board members engaged in robust discussions, painting a portrait of a community grappling with the shape of its educational future.
Among the most hotly debated topics was the board’s flag policy, particularly its potential implications for the display of the LGBTQ+ Pride flag in schools. America, a high school junior, eloquently argued against the flag’s categorization as a special interest or political symbol, asserting her identity as a trans and queer student was not a political issue. Echoing these sentiments, Lisa Eidel advocated for the Pride flag’s display, citing it as a beacon of hope for LGBTQ+ students that can lower suicide rates. Alex Barbarian and Alexander Ruiz, both Westwood alumni, also expressed strong opposition to any measures limiting the display of the Pride flag.
The board’s decision to change the Middle School Honors Program was another focal point. The changes include the elimination of certain honors classes, but maintaining an accelerated mathematics program and embedding advanced rigor into all courses. Virginia Carey voiced her opposition to the decision, arguing that it does a disservice to students who thrive in academically challenging environments, saying, “Equity means being treated fairly, equality means being treated the same. This is not fair towards the students.”
Simultaneously, the issue of crowded classrooms and the potential development of hundreds of units in the town’s center was raised by local parent Tony Migliore. He expressed concerns about the increasing size of classrooms and overcrowded schools, advocating for more attention to be paid to the needs of students and teachers in the district.
Furthermore, the community also voiced concerns about the board’s conduct and communication. Andrea Gerstmeyer commented on the public forum protocol, critiquing the board members for not respecting speakers, stating, “We all need to learn what respect really means… talk the talk, walk the walk.” Laura Nicholson and Christine Murphy echoed these sentiments, expressing disappointment over unprofessional behavior and alleged intimidation tactics from board members.
The school board meeting also had its brighter moments. The President recognized teachers for their dedication during the National Teachers Appreciation week and commended a local Eagle Scout, AJ, for his successful project involving the restoration of veterans’ headstones.