COLUMN: NPS students sound off on bond proposal Opinion
On Feb. 14, Norman voters will consider a $353.9 million school bond proposal.
Among the items in the bond proposal are a new all-school fine arts performance venue, the creation of multi-use spaces in district high schools for e-sports and other activities, and a new competition stadium at Norman North High School.
The following are thoughts of current Norman Public Schools students about those items.
• Mackenzie Caddell, Norman North High School band, flute section leader:
“The Norman North band had a very successful fall season, winning first place at the Elgin marching contest and earning a superior ranking at the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association State Marching Band Contest.
“Although the season was successful, one obstacle to that success is the lack of a home stadium on the Norman North campus. Our rehearsal time on turf is minimal. Also, band parents, students and directors must move all props, sound equipment, instruments, uniforms, etc., to Norman High School for every home football game, unload and perform, then reload and return to Norman North to unload everything again.
“This process costs the band program at least $4,000 annually. Our band president, Frank Stanley, and vice president Vivian McNeely say having our own stadium would allow for a more collaborative school environment, because football and band would not be competing for access to the practice football field. A home stadium is a symbol of pride not only for band students but for the football team, cheer, pom and the student body.”
• Nate Butenhof, Norman High School e-sports team member:
“Having an e-sports space at Norman High would make our team feel more included and seen as the real, competitive sport that it is. We have a lot of dedicated players for a large array of games. These students put in tons of time, both inside and outside of class, to be the best they can at their games. Having a space in school made for e-sports would help make it feel a lot more serious.
“E-sports are becoming just as real as any other sport, with the OSSAA offering competitive e-sports and many colleges fielding e-sports teams. E-sports build the same teamwork skills as traditional sports, with all of the games being played requiring serious communication among players for the team to be successful.”
• Chase Zacher, Norman High School e-sports team member:
“E-sports have been a growing phenomenon for the past couple of years. I’ve been blessed to see it grow from a nerdy niche to something that is bigger than most people realize. The OSSAA has recognized e-sports as a competitive sport. E-sports at my school only started this year.
“The first week or so, the class was full of kids, but the next couple of weeks, kids started to change hours. This was due to a misconception many students had that the class was going to be just ‘playing games in school,’ but I have never had my communication skills tested as hard as e-sports has tested them. Each game has its own little nuances and strategies that require everyone to be on the same page, teaching us teamwork. This can be difficult and troublesome, but I’m proud to say that our team members have learned how to speak each other’s language.
“Currently, our e-sports room is in an old classroom that was previously used for storage. It’s cramped, it’s hot, and every single noise bounces off the walls. Having a dedicated space that was made with e-sports in mind would be a game changer, pun intended.”
• Hailey Dixon, Norman High School theater performer:
“I am passionate about theater, as are many at Norman High School, so I am writing this to explain why a new fine arts facility for Norman Public Schools would benefit our theater community immensely. I have been involved in numerous productions at NHS, performing both at our auditorium and the Nancy O’Brian Center at Norman North. Theater has given me an outlet to freely express myself.
“I have made so many new friends and meaningful memories with everyone in the theater community. It has helped me build my confidence and has given me a reason to go to school every day. At NHS, our auditorium is not designed for fine arts, making some productions difficult. It is extremely difficult to schedule space and time at the Nancy O’Brian Center.
“Since it is the only NPS auditorium designed for fine arts, it’s in high demand and it’s very challenging to get permission to use the space when we need it. This leaves us with little time to transport the set and costumes. The new fine arts facility would benefit Norman High as well as the rest of NPS, providing a second performance space to reduce a lot of the scheduling conflicts and make it less stressful for faculty and students.”
• Whitney Wilson, Norman High School theater performer:
“This will be my third year with Norman High School theater, and having joined stagecraft has been one of the best decisions during my time at NHS. Not only have I met new friends, but I’ve also found a great community of people. Being in theater is a great opportunity for all students. Even if acting really isn’t a student’s thing, there are lots of other things that can pique their interests.
“Stagecraft offers many things, like learning how to use power tools, how to sew or even putting up wallpaper. I have learned things that will be useful not just during my high school career but for the rest of my life. Theater is a fun and rewarding experience and teaches students useful life skills.
“I think the new fine arts facility would help speed up the process of putting on a production and make it go more smoothly.
“We would be less likely to have to worry about tech failures, or anything like that. It would also provide a bigger space for students, so they would have the opportunity to do more. They would get to see more of their ideas envisioned. We don’t have the biggest space.”
To learn more about the bond, go to normanpublicschools.org/bond.