The HCST consolidation plan arouses the anger of students, parents; the school district says it’s for the best
Even for students in two of Hudson County’s most demanding performing arts departments, it’s too dramatic.
Hudson County Schools of Technology leaders see the decision to consolidate its Music and Audio Tech (MAT) program at County Prep in Jersey City and its Dance and Performing Arts program at High Tech in Secaucus as a way to put each group of students in construction with the best resources for them.
“What we’re doing is consolidation,” said HCST Superintendent Amy Lin-Rodriguez. “With the construction of a new (music) wing (on the County Prep campus), we have better equipment. We don’t need to try to get extra funds to get this equipment on campus (High Tech) up to what it needs to be.
A group of students, their parents and dozens of dance professionals say the district uproots students from their “home”, destroys academic camaraderie among students in these programs and eliminates the individuality of each program.
“We want to continue to express the movement in our own space, the space that makes us feel at home,” County Prep student Kassandra Esparra said in a Change.org petition she started that now has over 1,700 signatures. “When it comes to musical theatre, as well as dance, we are a team and we don’t do it alone. If you separate majors to organize each school into a specific category, you remove teamwork during production.
The consolidation plan that would take effect at the start of the 2022-23 school year involves transferring the 37 MAT students currently in High Tech to County Prep and 51 County Prep students (25 in dance and 26 in drama) to High Tech High School in Secaucus.
Lin-Rodriguez is frustrated with the misinformation spread by the regarding the consolidation – mainly that music and audio technology is being eliminated in one school and performance programs are being eliminated in the other.
Instead, she said, students and parents should view both schools as part of the same school system and each will be stronger in a single building.
“I’m surprised by the wave that – I can’t even say the word ‘surprised’ – I’m actually disappointed that a lot of our community doesn’t see this as an improvement, but as something being taken away” , Lin-Rodriguez said.
The superintendent said a plan was in place to speak with teachers and then students and parent groups, but some teachers decided “to push students to turn this into something more negative”.
“The emotions of some of the people involved in those initial discussions took a whole different turn on social media,” Lin-Rodriguez said, noting that some commenters impersonated her and High Tech executive Kathy Young, then these false comments have been shared. .
Dana Rosen, senior of the MAT program at High Tech, says it’s not an emotional rant from the students.
“Our program is fully linked to our other performing arts programs. We manage all sound and light for each production, from theater to dance to musical theatre. …Taking Audio Tech out of High Tech will destroy all performing arts majors, both those brought into High Tech and those already there. Our principal and administration do not listen to true and valid concerns because they are not only based on emotion, but are factual, logical and important.
A group of 83 dance professionals in favor of separating each school’s programs said in an open letter to the administration that “the County Prep dance program is special, and its success is due in large part to its location. in Jersey City. … The rich network of students, alumni, professional artists and local connections in Jersey City has been built over the 20 years of the program … cannot simply be transferred to Secaucus.
In his consolidation announcement on the district’s website, Lin-Rodriguez pointed out that the County Prep music technology wing includes a broadcast station, recording booths, an instrumental music classroom and meeting rooms. controls equipped with industry standard technology used by leading artists and sound engineers.
High-tech facilities include a professional black box theater, performance auditorium, musical theater classroom, rehearsal rooms, and a 2,500 square foot dance studio equipped with a spring-loaded floor; all including state-of-the-art technology.
Current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in affected programs may transfer to the new designated campus and continue with their current program, or remain at their current school and switch programs of study. The district offers a two-campus time-sharing model for current juniors to continue their degree program at the new campus and complete the remainder of their coursework where they currently study.