Left to right: Kai Perschbacher (11th grade), Hannah Swartos (11th grade), and Matt Irving (12th grade)
The upcoming February 10th school bond election should not take anyone by surprise. There are yard signs, for and against it; there are posters in local businesses, and there are direct mailings appearing in mailboxes all over Anacortes. What might surprise many, however, is the effort behind what the public sees: the effort of current high school students.
Many Anacortes High School students have given their time to help the effort, but four stand out above the rest. Seniors Brooke Riordan and Matt Irving and juniors Kai Perschbacher and Hannah Swartos have donated countless hours to make sure the bond passes next month. They cannot receive any extra credit or even community hours for their efforts walking in the Christmas parade carrying a banner or speaking in front of a packed crowd at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. They have signed postcards, attended neighborhood coffees, produced videos, led tours of their school and rallied their classmates. All on their own time.
The big question here is why? Why are these very busy students so involved with an issue that really shouldn’t matter? They won’t reap the benefits. Irving says it’s all about giving back to the community. He says the teachers are extraordinary and being involved in athletics has given him a lot. “I just don’t want all the elementary kids to have to deal with the same building problems,” he says.
Riordan echoes this sentiment. “Ideally it’s for the better of the incoming youth. As I reflect back on my own time here, I realize that it’s my responsibility. This community is so supportive, so what better way to do something good for the all the people who have supported us?” she asks.
Perschbacher can be seen in the student-produced video tour of the high school. His reasons are both practical and forward-thinking. He states the U.S. ranking of 14th worldwide in education as one of his reasons.
“Our school lacks the basic resources needed to help students enter a globally competitive world. If we want future generations to succeed, if we want Anacortes to thrive thirty years down the road, we need to provide our students the resources they need,” says the junior.
For Swartos, it’s more personal. She first heard about the bond in the fall and has been volunteering her time whenever she can. “I am putting in all this work because I am truly proud and amazed by the incredible people in Anacortes, and I think they deserve a school that reflects the hard work of the staff and students. Once people are given the facts about this, there’s really no denying that it’s necessary now,” says Swartos.
The bond will essentially be a 60% new construction of classroom space and a 40% renovation of Brodniak Hall and the gymnasium. For more information or to read the Facilities Committee report go to the School District Web site or the Citizens for Anacortes Schools Web site.
As for Swartos, she knows she will, indeed, reap the benefits. “When I come home to Anacortes a few years from now, I want to be able to see that beautiful new school and know that I did everything I could to help put it there, even if I’m not old enough to vote,” she says.