Riverside-Brookfield High School students held a rally Saturday to urge support for a yes vote on the April 5 referendum to increase taxes and funding for RB.
About 35 to 40 students first marched from RB to the Eight Corners intersection in Brookfield and then paraded to Kiwanis Park for the rally, which lasted for a little more than three hours.
Those at Kiwanis Park endured cold temperatures in the high 30s and a strong, biting west wind. As some students huddled together in blankets to ward off the cold, members of various RB clubs facing elimination if the referendum fails took to the microphone to talk about what those clubs mean to them and to urge a yes vote in the referendum.
RB senior Katie Scheffer, a leader of RB’s Ecology Club, described the impact the club has had on her.
“It’s done a lot for me,” Scheffer said. “It’s shown me my passion. It’s one of the last things the community and the school can afford to lose.”
Members of RB clubs and groups as diverse as the Science Club, Best Buddies, Repertory Dance Ensemble, Improv Club, Gay Straight Alliance, Jazz Ensemble and Madrigal Singers either spoke or performed before the small crowd of students, a few parents and teachers.
RB Principal Pam Bylsma was present for part of the rally as was District 208 school board President James Marciniak.
Students came and went throughout the rally, making a precise count of the number of students who participated impossible.
A small fire in a fire pit helped ward off the cold as did marshmallows, pizza and hot chocolate brought by some parents to warm those at the rally.
At times the rally had the atmosphere of a camp out or chilly little outdoor rock concert with students occasionally breaking into impromptu dances to the music that played through speakers during lulls in the speeches and performances.
The rally was the idea of RB senior Erik Kramer.
“I wanted to show people what would be lost,” Kramer said. “Just hearing that 25 clubs are going to be cut just doesn’t quite do it. … I think that’s really important.”
Kramer said that he was pleased with the turnout.
“I’m really happy with this,” Kramer said. “I really didn’t know what to expect, because a lot of people said we’re really interested but we have other things going on. But it’s great to see all that are here.”
RB sophomore Katie Maxwell is a member of three RB clubs: Best Buddies, Eco Club and German Club.
She did a dramatic recital of German poem that recently won her a first-place award in a German Day competition at University of Illinois-Chicago.
She said extracurricular activities are a key part of her RB experience.
“They take up the majority of what I do outside of school time, and I’m very involved with them,” Maxwell said. “I love doing them. They really have expanded my knowledge of other people and other things that I love to do. And I feel that they should stay around, and I want to make a point of trying to do that.”
An RB without extracurricular activities is not something that she wants to experience.
“Personally I think it would be kind of terrible, because you would just have classes and then you would go home,” Maxwell said. “For some people that would turn into things that they shouldn’t be doing. I wouldn’t do that, but it would make me very sad to see other people do that and not be able to express myself through the clubs that I’m involved in.”