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Halifax Council meets Tuesday

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‘No more Bandaids over the bullet hole that is our school’

SoVaNow.com / January 24, 2019
(HCHS senior Jillian Waller, a member of the school’s student leadership program, spoke Wednesday in Richmond before a finance subcommittee of the House of Delegates regarding House Bill 1634, which would allow a referendum vote in Halifax County on a local sales tax to fund a new high school facility. Her remarks are published below — Ed.)

Last week as I was leaving my high school after an academic competition, I noticed bricks that had fallen onto the sidewalk at the main entrance of my school, Halifax County High School. Had I, my sister, my baby brother, or even one of our rival GW Eagles been walking past, concussion, brain injury, or even death could have been an unfortunate result. Given the school shootings reported almost daily, I am frightened when I think about the 55 exterior doors of my school that have no alarm system or video surveillance to warn off intruders.

I am inconvenienced on a daily basis by the two bathroom stalls for females near my English class that serve 150 girls. Furthermore, the moisture coming into the school from the bricks causes mold to grow in the halls and classrooms. My teachers and students experience allergy issues as soon as school starts. My cousin had to be put on homebound instruction because our building made him sick. My friend Riley had to give up earning an associate’s degree because she was restricted from going on our CTE hallway because of allergens. In our shop class, with the door closed, you can see outside through a crack in the wall.

It is embarrassing when other schools come here to compete in sporting competitions and witness the decrepit conditions of our facilities. For example, the carpet is unraveling in the auditorium. You have a 50-50 chance of sitting in a broken chair in the auditorium. An impaired, outdated sound system and the dilapidated stage are truly embarrassing at local dance competitions, political rallies, and cancer society events.

As a resident of a rural county in Southside Virginia, I believe I deserve equal educational facilities as those enjoyed by students in Northern Virginia, Richmond, or Virginia Beach. One of my ACE team members said every school is better than our school. That is the honest opinion of most students at my school.

As students of Halifax County High School, we are standing up for future doctors, lawyers, teachers, and many more. Our parents tell us that we can be and we can do anything we want in life, but you have to set goals. My goal here is to help the children of tomorrow see that we want them to grow and to be successful. By getting the funding to build a new high school, we will foster the creative minds of tomorrow’s CEOs and business leaders. By speaking today, we are instilling hope in the future of Halifax County that we can and we will grow. Our county has put a price tag on education. I am asking you to be the ones to see an endless value of our education.

Some of the people of our town see very little value in our education. When they were our ages, it was normal to quit school after the eighth grade to work for their families. An education was not required. During this day and time, a student must have at least a high school diploma to work in a fast-food restaurant. I am asking you to value us and our education. See that in order for us to grow we need a successful and encouraging environment. The foundation bricks at Halifax County High School have been falling out of the walls since the early ‘90s. We need your help. We can no longer put a Bandaid over the bullet hole that is our school.



South Boston News
Jillian Waller offers remarks Tuesday at the Night of Innovation program at Halifax County Middle School. The HCHS senior spoke again Wednesday in Richmond as a local contingent appeared before a House Finance subcommittee to support House Bill 1634, patroned by Del. James Edmunds. Above, Waller is flanked by Melanie Saunders, faculty advisor for the high school student leadership program.


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