Leaving Friends Behind: Students Reflect on Redistricting Controversy


Parents discuss redistricting at a Board of Education meeting.

On Facebook, Twitter, and even along the paths of Columbia, parents have made their opinions on redistricting clear. Armed with signs, t-shirts, and angry Facebook posts, their voices can sometimes even overshadow those of the students. 

For many students, parent conversations about real estate prices and test scores gloss over the issues they are most worried about: disrupting their sense of community and having to leave friends and teachers behind.

Will Brewster, a sophomore from River Hill, rarely talks about redistricting with his friends, he says, except sometimes to discuss the ridiculous comments made by parents. 

“I’ve heard a lot of things about redistricting,” says Brewster,” but none of them affect my opinion of other schools.” 

Libby Kitzinger, another River Hill student, reinforces the idea that the negative images portrayed in the community are unnecessary. Her worries related to redistricting are more focused on her social life.

“No one is upset about the new school they are transferring into, but more about the school they are leaving,” she says.

Her main concern about moving to another school would be being separated from her friends and community, especially her soccer team. 

“There is no problem with the teaching or athletics at any school,” Kitzinger explains.  “However the change, for example, from one team to another- while the teams may be the same level, the bond between players and coaches will have to be rebuilt.”

 While many students voiced their concerns about moving to Wilde Lake, just as many do not want to leave.

Wilde Lake sophomore, Ariana Fernandez, believes that redistricting would be difficult for her because meeting new people can be challenging; she does not want her social life to change.

I’ll be separated from all my friends that I’ve grown up with, and I’ll also be separated from all the teachers I’ve formed relationships with,” Fernandez says.  I don’t want to be moved to another school just to please some numbers, or to satisfy some statistic.”

 Ella Hollida, another sophomore from Wilde Lake, would likely not end up being redistricted under the current plan, but her brothers could be.

“I would be pretty upset if my brothers would have to move to another high school other than my school,” Hollida says. “I would be pretty upset if they couldn’t go to the same high school and have some of the same experiences I did.”

Her time at Wilde Lake has been positive, and she wants her brothers to have the same experience. 

Wilde Lake is portrayed in a very bad light. Things are being said that are rude and cruel towards a school in the same community,” she said.

From students all over the county, one thing is clear: moving kids from their schools and communities is an area of concern. At schools such as Mt. Hebron, students express their worries through testimonials to the Board of Education. Jacob Hoff, a Mt. Hebron sophomore, is mainly worried about disruptions in his community, Valley Meade. 

“My neighborhood has attended St. John’s Lane, Patapsco, and Mt. Hebron since they opened, Hoff says. “That’s been over 50 years. We are one community.”

Another Mt. Hebron student, Logan Dunn, believes that high school is an important time to establish connections with others, and kids should not be moved in the midst of it. 

“High school is not the time to be moving kids,” Dunn explains. “We’ve worked hard on our relationships with counselors, teachers, and students.”