Bond perspective from OIHS teacher | Letter

I have been having conversations with many community members lately about the phase III bond we will be voting on in February. I bring this up now as we work to decide what will be included on that bond. Repeatedly I have heard islanders comment that “a new weight room isn’t necessary, they can just use what they’ve got, and I’d rather support the arts.” Well, as a teacher and coach of arts and athletics respectively in the Orcas High School for 15 years now, I have an inside perspective that I would like every community member to know:

The creation of a new athletic training facility also leaves the old space open for a potential multi-purpose classroom. For nearly 10 years now our high school has had a popular yoga class that has no designated facility, and ping pongs locations away from the school each year, forcing students to leave campus. Our newly blossomed drama/theater arts course is going very well, but also has no designated space for a classroom. The old weight room with its mirrors and open floor plan would be a PERFECT home for these already existing classes. It would also be a perfect home for a dance course(s) to be added to the school curriculum. We do not yet have dance at OHS, but the island does have qualified instructors. I am not administration, so I cannot promise that we are adding dance, yet I would like to creatively try to make it happen. I believe in adding a Dance course to round out our theater, music and visual arts so strongly that I would like to state that if the administration will work with me then I will give 0.1 FTE, the teacher’s salary equivalent of a single class, away from my contract to be paid instead to a dance instructor for our school if we can build this facility.

Secondly, our weight room is archaic. Training methods have evolved for decades now, and our facility has not. It is limiting our young athletes. Other schools that our youth compete against have an advantage because their training facilities are up to date, allowing modern development so their players become faster, stronger, and more agile. The bond would get us the building and we can work to then put the right equipment in it.

Approving the construction of a new weight room is the best of both worlds: it supports the arts and athletics. Let’s leave no students out. Encourage and grow the arts while boosting our athletic performance; now that sounds like Orcas Island to me.

Corey Wiscomb

Orcas High teacher and alumni