NORTHAMPTON - Northampton High School students gathered on the steps of the Unitarian Society Church Wednesday afternoon to voice their concerns about Northampton's looming school budget cuts.
A crowd of over 100 students, supported by parents, teachers, and city officials, assembled to voice their discontent with news of a $1.4 million shortfall in the 2013 school budget. The rally focused primarily on cuts in art-related programs, which organizers highlighted through performances by the NHS Band, the high school a cappella group The Northamptones, and others. Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, who attended the rally to "listen to the concerns" regarding the cuts, applauded the student initiative. "I respect and support what the students are doing today," stated Narkewicz, who is also a father of two daughters in the Northampton school district, "in terms of talking about how strongly they feel about the importance of these programs." Narkewicz added that plans are in place to find ways to reduce the budget deficit, including a review of teacher health insurance, which Narkewicz stated "is one of the biggest components of the budget gap."
Student Melanie Tan, who spoke at the rally, says she is optimistic about Northampton's ability to reduce budget gaps in the future and the role students will play in the matter. "What's most important is to get our voice out there," says Tan, "and have us be heard."
Watch a brief video of student speeches during the rally below:
Video footage by Joel McAuslin and Jeromie Whalen.