The East Community Ponders Its Future
East High School is the 6th largest school in Colorado, with a size of 2,581 students. The sheer size of East is one of the main things it is known for, along with the diversity and liveliness of the community. However, after all the recent events East has suffered lately, enrollment rates could be decreasing. Many parents have thought about disenrolling their kids from East, which is now thought of as a violent place. It’s not just the students who might not be coming back, many teachers are considering leaving as well.
There are no current statistics on the enrollment rates for the 23-24 school year, but in an informal poll, 85.7% of students surveyed said they knew someone not coming back to East next year. An East English teacher has said that four freshmen in her class have already left East this year. Furthermore, many parents have voiced their worries about sending their children back to East, as shown in the Parents Safety Advocacy FaceBook Group as well as the large number of parents at the DPS safety meeting after the March shooting.
East English teacher Charlie Gaare also feels concerned about returning. She feels that the violence that has occurred this year could happen at any school, and for her, that violence is too much. “I don't think East is different from any other school, so I am looking for jobs outside of teaching high school altogether,” Gaare says. She explains that she still loves East the same amount as always, as it has been her home for a decade. “It’s heartbreaking that it is currently struggling the way it is,” Says Gaare. Based on how many new teacher job openings there are listed in the East newsletter, it seems as if other teachers are also considering leaving. In the most recent news letter from Friday May 12th, there was an opening position for an English teacher as well as a Student Support Liaison (Dean).
But how do the current East students really feel? A sophomore who attends East says, “My parents are hesitant about me coming back to East, but I don’t have a lot of fear of returning. I feel like to an extent, I have been desensitized from the shootings." Students in the survey also express support for East, as 100% surveyed are planning to return. Incoming freshman Mia Davis says she had second thoughts about attending East. She felt scared and almost went to Regis instead, but then decided she wanted to come to East to be part of the change.
There are a variety of feelings in the East community about returning in the 23-24 school year. Many agree that it’s up to the students to make East the place they want it to be. As Gaare says, “There is a lot of opportunity to make the school a better place if the students are inclined to do so. They have the ability to create the culture.”