Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Track Club Seeks BOE Backing

Advocates of the Tsunami Track Club – parents, coaches and young participants – told their personal stories to the Board of Education Tuesday in an effort to reclaim use of high school hallways for practice.

The club previously used Plainfield High School for indoor practice over three years, but was denied by the new administration over liability issues. In a presentation to the City Council Nov. 10, Coach Kevin Turner and others told the governing body they have insurance and there have been no problems with use of the school.

Schools Superintendent Steve Gallon III was present at the council meeting, but refused to make a decision in that setting. Club leaders will be meeting with Gallon today, but board member Wilma Campbell reminded the group Tuesday that the matter has not come to the board for consideration.

Club membership has given students chances to visit major colleges and universities for meets, afforded personal opportunities to excel at regional and national competitions and provided a support base of concerned adults for their success in school, athletics and life in general, speakers said. All 14 coaches are volunteers who devote countless hours and even vacation time to training and competitions.

Nancy Jordan traced the club's evolution from her late husband's efforts to involve young people in athletics.

"Anyone with longevity will remember 'Steve the Cop,' " Jordan said.

Besides organizing sports activities, she said, Steve Jordan attended many events to show support.

"People that knew him knew that track was his passion," Nancy Jordan said.

More than a dozen speakers praised the organization and its benefits.

“I’ve never seen a program such as this,” parent Mike Simmons said. “Tsunami just tops it all.”

“We would never take a program away from kids,” Board President Bridget Rivers said. “I’m sure the outcome is going to be great.”

But when it will be resolved is not known. Speakers said some students have turned to other clubs for training while talks over use of the school continue.

Several board members said they were greatly moved by the testimony of the young people, their coaches and parents.

“My heart is very full,” Lisa Logan Leach said.

“Don’t ever second-guess our support for children,” Patricia Barksdale said.

Rasheed Abdul-Haqq said he had “a very difficult time not shedding tears” after hearing from the club’s children and adults.

Gallon listened very attentively, but did not comment. As chief school administrator, he holds the power to decide on use of the high school and to recommend board approval. The board’s next business meeting is Dec. 16.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Plainwatcher said...

With all due respect, is Dr. Gallon waiting for a brick to fall on his head before he gets the picture . . the Kids Come First. They have covered their bases: Insurance, competent Adult supervision, and they have longevity without incident. This too is part of their Education.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there is some truly substantive reason why approval has yet to be granted, I'd like to hear it. But if it's just a matter of process (i.e. red tape), then this is senseless and downright disrespect to these kids and their families.

It should not take this long for Gallon to give a clear yea or nay on this. Where's the leadership?

1:39 AM  

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