By Dia Gill | Web Managing Editor
On May 8, Avon residents will be given the chance to vote yes or no on the school referendum. According to Dustin Lemay, principal of Avon Intermediate School West, the referendum will achieve three things if passed: reduced class sizes, competitive pay for teachers, and increased opportunities for students. To promote the referendum a student leadership committee known as “Students4AvonSchools” has formed, led by high schoolers.
Superintendent Dr. Margaret Hoernemann cited an example of another Indiana school district that was able to pass a referendum with the help of its students.
“Some of our volunteers accepted the challenge to get students involved. This is important because students can have a profound effect on the results of this election. A great example is the MSD of Boone Township in Porter County. They lost their first referendum in 2013 by four votes. They got their students involved and tried again in 2014. This time they won by 47 votes. Of those 47 votes, 26 were cast by high school students,” she said.
According to Hoernemann, Students4AvonSchools formed somewhat organically and is being led by a combination of students and administrators.
“The [student leadership group] started by administrators just contacting students they know and asking the students to invite others. Several meetings have been held in the home of one of the adult leaders and our students have generated many outstanding ideas. Their ideas are much more creative than ours.”
Senior Cameron Misner, a member of the football team and DECA, became involved in Students4AvonSchools through his friendship with another member.
“I’m good friends with Luke Shayotovich, whose mom is the principal of [Avon Intermediate School] East and a leader of the [student leadership group]. Luke knew that I was in support of this referendum, so he reached out and asked if I’d be interested in helping,” Misner said.
On April 3, Students4AvonSchools held a rally at the Washington-Township Park Pavilion. Students were given the chance to express concerns, including employee pay and class sizes, and give testimonials on the impacts of the education they’ve received at Avon. The group will be putting on more events to promote the referendum.
“Right now we are working on promoting the early voting phase of the election, which is a great opportunity to vote when you have free time, and to skip the long lines on Election Day. We are working on putting together ‘pack the car’ days. These will be days where we organize carpools with students to the voting sites to make it easy and convenient, as well as less stressful, for first time voters to go to the polls,” Misner said.
Members have used their perspectives as Avon students to their advantage, coming from differing backgrounds in extracurriculars.
“Their passion for Avon, and their teachers is inspiring. Our leaders have a voice and they want others to hear their story. Stories about what a difference a teacher has made, a coach, music, athletics. They want future Orioles to have the same opportunities they have at Avon. Their main goal right now is to support and educate others about early voting,” AIS West principal Dustin LeMay said.
Many of the students involved will graduate this year and will not experience the results of a passed referendum; however, they’ve expressed a hope to benefit future generations of Avon students. Misner said he wants future students to have access to the same quality of education and teachers that he’s had.
“I want every student that comes after me to not only have the same resources available to them that I did, but also have the teachers, coaches and club sponsors to help them take advantage of these resources,” he said.