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Youngster Wants Board to Rethink Cuts
“The Blind Pew” is a character in the Robert Louis Stevenson novel “Treasure Island”. Stevenson described the Pew as “An evil and sinister pirate who was blinded in a pirate attack. He is cruel, scary and determined to get the (treasure) map.”
In a recent intermediate school production of the play “Treasure Island”, the Pew character was portrayed by Knightstown fifth grader Susanah Hatton. Although Susanah is not evil, and certainly is not a sinister pirate, she does share one trait with the mythical character she portrayed.
She is determined.
I sat on my porch and had a conversation with the outspoken 11-year-old Monday night. She had knocked on my door and asked me to sign a petition.
Little Susanah loves acting in the drama club. Like many other youngsters, she thoroughly enjoys music, the choir and the performances she and her classmates put on for the community.
When she read in last week’s issue of The Banner that the school corporation was considering dropping some of those programs because of budget cuts, she was hurt, and she complained to her family, teachers and friends.
“It’s not fair, and I got pretty mad about it,” Susanah said. “Then we were were talking about anger in Sunday school and what to do about it. I thought about getting a petition and going everywhere to get people to sign it. I’m going to write a letter to The Banner and let the school board know how I feel.” She said she’s upset because she doesn’t think the grown-ups who make the decisions are considering the importance of the programs they are cutting.
“Music, art, band, choir, drama club … these are things that bring out the personality in people,” Susanah said. “There are a lot of kids who don’t want to be in sports, and these activities give them a variety of things to choose from.”
I immediately thought to myself, “This is an 11-year-old?”
“If they take away the drama club, it will be like taking away a big part of Panther pride,” she said. “They will be taking away something that is a big part of who we are and what we want to be. We express ourselves in plays and concerts. It’s who we are and none of us want to lose that.”
Susanah was accompanied by her father, John, who agreed to walk her door to door in Knightstown, gathering up signatures in an effort to sway the school board and save those programs.
“She surprises me lots of times,” John said, “but this is something she has taken up herself because she believes in it. I’m pretty proud of her for standing up and doing this, and I agreed I would walk her around to gather her signatures. She’s already gotten more than I thought she would, but we have also found some people who weren’t aware of those (proposed) cuts.”
I agreed to sign Susanah’s petition, and she continued to sell her case.
“I’m just asking the school to not drop these programs and to consider how bad that would be for a lot of kids,” she said. “When you love being in the drama club and choir and you’re just at the intermediate school, imagine how much more you would love it at the high school!”
She quickly scanned over the signatures already obtained. She was within a few of reaching 100, and had just started gathering names when she got out of school Monday afternoon.
I was impressed by her passion and devotion to the arts, this petite child who is oblivious to some of the cruel realites of the world in which she lives. I couldn’t help but wonder if she isn’t facing an even greater disappointment after working so hard to fight for what she believes in.
Susanah told me her goal was to get 100 signatures every day, and she vowed to keep at it all week long. She plans to ask permission to place petitions in high traffic areas such as the Firehouse Café and maybe the Corner Bakery.
“They’ve just got to listen, and I hope if I get enough people to sign, maybe they will,” Susanah said. “They’ve got to see how important this is.”
With that, she headed across the street, seeking, and getting, another signature.
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