Opinion piece by Becca Spilka

Dutch Fork High School is ranked one of the best high schools in the state.

It challenges its students.

It prepares them for the future.

It pushes them to succeed.

But one of the best qualities that Dutch Fork has to offer is the countless opportunities for students to expand their horizons and explore their interests.

So why all this talk of turning Dutch Fork into a magnet school? Why narrow the prospects of its students? Why put time and energy solely into our STEM program and related classes when students have an expansive range of interests they may want to pursue?

Why are not we not instead fostering the diverse interests of our students and our school?

Moving Dutch Fork towards a STEM focus wouldn’t necessarily eliminate the other departments and classes, but it would fail to encourage students to have many different interests and be involved in a range of activities. There’s little to no benefit in forcing students into a certain field or on a specific career path at an early age.

Education is meant to enrich and nurture a new generation. We want well-rounded and thoroughly educated students entering the world, not single-function robots with nothing but science stuffed down their throats.

Additionally, the district is encouraging Irmo High School to focus on the arts since Dutch Fork has a focus in STEM. This plus the addition of the all magnet school, Spring Hill, encourages students to switch schools in order to pursue their desired major.

The main problem with this is that we’re encouraging students to select their career path extremely early in life. Why force a bunch of teenagers to narrow their opportunities? A nuclear approach to education is what college is for.

Another issue with switching schools is that students who know they want to go to a certain school to pursue their career path are forced to leave their friends and a comfortable environment to go to a school that is most likely much further away.

Furthermore, plenty of students love Dutch Fork and the opportunities it has to offer, but it’s difficult to go to a school that doesn’t support and fund and appreciate a love of the arts.

It’s forcing students to choose between the school that they want to go to and the school they need to go to.

By focusing on one subject, you’re neglecting others. This negligence prevents students from reaching their full potential and confidently knowing what career path they may want to pursue in the future.

Any good school can deliver content, hand out homework and force test scores to rise, but a great school gives students the tools and the opportunities to explore possibilities and discover their dream.