Sample letter

Sample letter

We are so upset that Darien High School has chosen not to have us return for our spring recital after being there for the past 5 years. Apparently there is an issue with parking and sporting events – and sports takes precedence of the arts. The beautiful theater at Darien High School is not being used for the month of May for the convenience of those attending sporting events.

Contact: Principal Ellen Dunn.


Address: Darien High School, 80 High School Lane, Darien, CT 06820.

Telephone: 203-655-3981.

Here is a letter that one of our parents wrote to the principal of Darien High School that you can use to help formulate your own. Please express your concern:

Our daughter is currently enrolled  at the Darien School of Dance and is very much looking forward to her upcoming spring recital in May.  Last year was her first dance recital and she was extremely excited to be involved in the performance on stage at the Darien High School auditorium with her parents and grandparents in attendance.  It was a great family day for us and we were definitely looking forward to this year’s performance.
My understanding is that the Darien School of Dance Spring Recital has been held at Darien High School for the past five years.  As I’m sure you are aware, the majority of the students enrolled at Darien School of Dance are children of Darien residents (and taxpayers) so it was with significant dismay and disappointment that I learned of the decision not to have the school return for its spring 2018 dance recital.  Further, it is my understanding that this decision was made because it conflicted with a sporting event that will be held at the high school on the same day.  As I’m sure you’re aware, the spring 2017 recital was held on the same day as a lacrosse event at the high school.  Although the parking lots were understandably quite full, we were able to find a parking spot without significant issue and at no point did we feel that holding both events simultaneously created any kind of safety concern.
As a lifelong athlete myself, I certainly appreciate the value that athletic programs offer to our students.  My daughter also enjoys playing children’s soccer, tennis, swimming, and gymnastics.  Sports are a fantastic way to promote hard work, personal responsibility, a sense of belonging, and teamwork, as well as making great friends and teaching kids how to handle adversity.  All of these are important life skills.  However, I came to realize long ago that the performing arts disciplines are just as important as athletics, if not more so.  Performing arts are also highly challenging, both mentally and physically, and they also promote the same lessons and life skills that one learns through playing sports.  In addition, they allow for things that sports can’t always offer, fostering creativity, the ability to think outside the box, and creating opportunities for students who are non-athletes but want to participate in other school programs.  Personally, I focused the majority of my efforts on athletics during my youth, and although I look back on that with very fond memories, I do wish that I had also pursued more creative hobbies when I was younger as it would have made me a more well-rounded person.  I now take great joy in watching my daughter sing, dance, paint, draw, jump, tumble, play sports, and create imaginary scenarios for her dolls and stuffed animal friends, often all in the same day.  She’s creative and imaginative.  It’s amazing to watch and we want to foster all of those things as she grows older.
At the end of the day, only a very small percentage of high school athletes will ever compete at the collegiate level and far fewer still will become professional athletes.  Given those odds, I have always been mystified as to the rationale for consistently prioritizing high school athletic programs over other programs, including performing arts and the sciences.  Athletics and performing arts do not need to be mutually exclusive in terms of opportunity and priority.  Many athletes also participate in performing arts programs as well.  Part of the reason my wife and I moved to Darien was the fact that it is one of the best school districts, not only in Connecticut, but in the country.  Putting aside the quality of the overall curriculum, part of what makes the school district so great is the opportunities and experiences it offers to our children, which can include both athletics and the arts.  We all know that Darien has one of the most competitive athletic programs in the state, but it also has a renowned theater program and many other great non-athletic extracurricular opportunities.  In fact, the vast majority of Darien High School’s most well-known alumni are famous for their work in performing arts, journalism, and writing (e.g. Moby, Kate Bosworth, Eddie Bracken, Garrett Brown, Eliza & Spencer Clark, Tom Gammill, Topher Grace, Gus Van Sant, Paul Yates, Margaret Bourke-White, Erskine Caldwell, Anne Lindbergh, Scott Pelley, among many others).
My wife and I are very disappointed that, as Darien residents and taxpayers, our daughter’s dance recital that is run by a Darien dance studio will instead be held at New Canaan High School because the decision was made to prioritize an athletic program at the expense of other Darien residents.  Our daughter will grow up in Darien and attend school here and she deserves to have the same opportunities and same priority as every other child in the school district, regardless of what interests and extracurricular activities they decide to pursue.  We strongly feel that this decision sends the wrong message as to how the school prioritizes certain segments of the student population.  To me, it seems like it was manageable to hold concurrent events at the high school last year and would have been again this year.  Alternatively, there is clearly a lot of field space at the middle school.  If multiple fields are required to hold larger sporting events, perhaps using two locations would be suitable as well (and that would certainly help alleviate the parking issue).
If I have misunderstood any of the background information relating to the decision process here, then I apologize.  I would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you in more detail.



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