Theatre Student Pleads for Continued Classes

Junior Gus Mahoney writes a letter to administration opposing the recently publicized decision to cut courses that enroll fewer than 15 students


Senior Margi Weiss perform in this year’s theatre production of New Stages 34.

The Theatre Department would be among the hardest hit disciplines in the school under a 15-student minimum policy. In 2014, Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. initiated a review of enrollment. “My biggest concern was that I didn’t want to have a number of classes with less than 15 students in operation,” Hutchings told The Shakerite.  Junior Gus Mahoney sent this letter yesterday to the administration and the Board of Education after learning that some theatre classes were endangered for next year.

For the past three years, as a child who was never “gifted” in the core subjects, electives have allowed me to explore my own personal gifts in both music and theater. I am disheartened to hear of the possible cuts of some elective classes without a certain number of sign ups. Although I do understand the administration’s purpose for this proclamation, I want to urge you to see past the quantitative aspects of the dilemma and see the qualitative aspects.

For the past 12 years, I have gone through the Shaker school district and have received a truly special education. My education has been “special” because of not only the passionate teachers and the immense opportunities to find out what I’m passionate about, but also because I have been taught how to be a human being and not just a student (which I find to be the most important thing for modern education). At the end of eighth grade, I was faced with a decision. Would I follow my brothers’ footsteps and go to St. Ignatius, or would I stay in Shaker? In the end, it was not the academics that brought me to choose Shaker, but it was the abundant theatre arts classes, it was the idea that I could take a music theory class, that I could be in an intense and great choir program, it was the idea that I could be in SGORR, that I could take distinguished art and design classes, the idea that I could take journalism.

As someone who knows what they want to do with their life, it has been so helpful that I could have small, focused classes based on the subject I am interested in. A flaw of the modern education system is that when a child is not gifted in any of the core subjects, they are immediately written off as unintelligent (as much as teachers do not like to say so, it is true). When in reality these “unintelligent” kids could be very gifted in other areas, such as art, music, and theatre, but they are lost among the crowd because their talents are not fostered by the education system. The education system has failed these kids. Up until this point, Shaker has not failed these kids.

By cutting these elective options, Shaker loses those kids. Kids like me. I would love to talk to you about this more … I once again urge you to look at the qualitative aspects of the situation, rather than focusing on the quantitative aspects. Please don’t abandon what has made and should continue to make Shaker special.


Gus Mahoney (Class of 2017)

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