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Danville teacher says withdrawal of funds will hurt students

I have a vested interest in the Danville school system. Both my wife and I are employees. I teach chemistry at the high school and my wife is the Youth Services Center Director. We both coach for the district and all of our children attend school at either Bate or the high school and participate in a variety of varsity sports and extracurricular activities.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the turmoil regarding our football program. I’m not writing to defend Coach Clevenger. Plenty of others have already spent a week doing so on social media. His accomplishments are well documented and easily recognized. I’m also not writing to defend my administration.

Their responsibility is to make decisions they believe are in the best interest of all students enrolled with Danville Schools. I wouldn’t continue to work here or entrust the education of my children to them if I didn’t believe they could do that job. I intentionally stay off social media, but people keep showing me Facebook and Twitter posts from prominent individuals and businesses in our community.

I see a very disturbing trend. It seems a vocal minority is willing to withdraw both physical and financial support of Danville students because they disagree with a decision made by the administration of our school and district. I think people and local businesses need to know that there is a silent majority watching closely. This majority isn’t loyal to anyone except the students that walk our halls.

I would like to issue a challenge to this group of people and businesses. Even if you believe our administration has made a mistake by not renewing Coach Clevenger’s contract for next season, support our students anyway. Regardless of who is on the sidelines or in central office next fall, Danville students will put on helmets and play football, and they deserve the support of this community.

If you are a local business that has donated to Danville football in the past but just feels like you can not any longer because of the direction our administration is heading, I encourage you to consider diverting those financial resources to one of our other athletic programs.

Coach McKinney and Coach Mason run fantastic basketball programs with the men’s team making the regional finals last season and our women’s team poised to win the regional tournament this year. Coach Morse puts out a regional contender every year on the baseball diamond, not to mention several D-1 commits on his current roster. Coach Breitenbach will run our softball team onto a brand new field this spring.

If the traditional sports that draw large crowds are no longer what you want to support, consider the successes of our “minor” sports. Our track team won a state title in 2018. Volleyball won the district championship this past fall. Wrestling had 5 state qualifiers in 2020, three in the men’s division and two in the women’s. Our soccer teams are perennial regional contenders with the men’s team winning the region in 2019 and the women’s team winning the district in both 2019 and 2020. The swim team has sent relay teams and individuals to the state swim meet and has had repeat regional diving champions.

Finally, the tennis team has the reigning women’s regional doubles champions. None of this is meant to diminish the football team’s 2017 state championship, but they are not the only athletic champions that walk the halls at Danville High School, and they are all deserving of support.

Maybe as a business, you are just fed up with athletics in general at Danville. That’s fine, but I think we should give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that you have spent years donating to the football program so you could positively impact the young people in this community and not so you can slap your name on a bowl game or hang an advertisement at Admiral Stadium. If that’s the case, there are plenty of other places the support you’ve given over the years could make an impact.

Our Marching Band, Forensics team, Academic team, Robotics club, Thespians Society, and Student Technology Leadership Program are all woefully underfunded. Maybe you just want to move away from teams and clubs entirely. Every librarian / media specialist in our district would work wonders for our students if you donated those football dollars to our school libraries.

Imagine what our science and math departments could do with an influx of funds? How about English departments that would have funds to purchase any books they want for their students? Our Family Resource and Youth Services Centers work miracles every day delivering food to students that go home to empty pantries, keeping the electricity on for families who have fallen on hard times, finding shelter for our homeless students, and meeting the basic needs of any student that walks into their offices. That doesn’t happen without funds. A donation to Families First or The Beacon is literally providing support and basic needs to our community’s most at-risk students.

Let me be clear, if you are a private citizen or business, you are under no obligation to support Danville football or any of the other athletic or academic programs I’ve mentioned. Just know that withdrawal of support, financial or otherwise, does not hurt administrators at Danville. It directly affects the students. The Facebook conversation represents a very passionate group of alumni and community members, but there is an equally passionate group not willing to engage in negative discourse on social media. The people watching this play out are worried about how this will impact our students and our community.

If this has in any way changed anyone’s mind or you want to help any of the above programs, football included, I volunteer to be the unofficial liaison. Email me at the address below, and I will put you in touch with someone that would love to have your support and will use it to directly impact our students.

Chris Myers

Danville Independent High School

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