Last month, the Half Hollow Hills Board of Education decided to close two of the district’s seven elementary schools. Chestnut Hill and Forest Park were unanimously picked by the board to be shut down due to a 25% decrease in enrollment. This decision has been met with resilient protest; however, the district budget is limited.
When news of the closing of Forest Park Elementary School swept through the halls of Hills West, many Forest Park alumni were heartbroken. Forest Park was once the home of many Hills West students. “The shutdown is devastating”, said Alexis Mitchnik, the current Vice-President of the junior class. “I will always remember Forest Park and the memories I made there.” Stephen Imburgia, President of the class of 2015, half-jokingly remarked “It’s an end of an era.” Joshua Wende softly sang “I’m a Ranger of Forest Park–and I will always be.” Alexis, Stephen, and Joshua are only three of the hundreds of students at Hills West who will lose their childhood dwelling due to budget cuts. “That school meant a lot to me,” Alexis nostalgically remarked.
The students at Forest Park and Chestnut Hill will be moved into the other elementary schools next September. Classes will become more crowded, grades will grow in size, and competition will gradually rise as the students reach their high school years. However, this stress is not limited to the students. Each school administration will face the pressures of enforcing school regulations on a larger school body, and many faculty members will face the risk of lay-offs.
Our farewell to Forest Park and Chestnut Hill is bittersweet. At Hills West, the Forest Park Rangers mourn the loss of their alma mater yet cherish their fond memories there, as do the the Chestnut Hill alumni at Hills East.