By KELSEY KAUFMANN
Special to the Sun-Gazette
On Feb. 12, I attended what I thought would be a boring school board meeting, where I would leave without any care as to what is happening in the area; however, I left with the disturbing feeling that the community was holding onto its last threads, trying to stay united.
As I sat in the auditorium at Mansfield High School, I scanned the room to see who was attending the school board meeting.
As I expected, there were many adults there, some older citizens and others who looked like parents. There were teachers in the crowd and even some children.
The board looked like an intimidating group of adults who I would be nervous to approach with any type of concern.
The microphone near the board members was opened for discussion as the meeting began. I had never attended a school board meeting and was curious to see if anyone would go up to speak.
An older man approached the microphone. He asked the board members about teacher cuts and how that would affect the student-to-teacher ratio. Yawn, I wasn't that interested in what he had to say.
After he said his piece a woman walked up to the microphone with a number of papers in her hands.
She looked like a woman on a mission. I was intrigued.
Kelly Honeyfield, a second grade teacher from Blossburg Elementary, took part in the "Gifted Enrichment Program".
I could hear in her voice how upset she was that a teacher was being removed from the program, she told how it would affect the children and their ability to learn as much as they could.
She threw out statistics and facts as to how children in the district would suffer from only having one gifted teacher. When Honeyfield's speech ended the crowd applauded and the microphone was open again; I wondered how anyone could follow her.
Another man spoke and then the board went about their discussions. They talked about numbers and how lunch prices were changing, and how much money they had to spend on different school funds.
As I sat in the audience, I looked around and realized that these issues were not the reason all the citizens attended the meeting.
Citizen recognition was again opened at the end of the meeting for any further comments.
Suddenly there were many more people who wanted to speak.
I had heard discussion about a school closing in the Southern Tioga School District due to financial and building problems.
More people approached the microphone upset and angry about the closing of either Liberty High School or North Penn High School.
Parents and concerned citizens asked the board if they really needed to close any school and if they thought about how this would affect the children and communities.
A teacher from Liberty High School begged the board members to hear his plan to temporarily close one school and not make a final decision.
The teacher talked about how the communities were struggling to stay united because children were being torn between different schools. At that moment I understood how desperate those in the community were to stay together.
Kaufmann is a student in Dan Mason's feature writing class at Mansfield University.
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