Parents use songs, German cookies to persuade school board

Parents fighting to keep the German foreign language program alive at Ridgefield High School tried a different approach at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, singing songs and bringing “Lebkuchen” — German cookies — for the school board members who have listened to arguments in favor of the program throughout the fall.

Caroline Chanin was the first speaker Monday night, breaking out into a Cole Porter song — “Every Time We Say Goodbye” — asking the board to reverse the high school administration’s decision. Chanin had previously sung to the board at its Sept. 26 meeting, when she opened the public comment period with a song from German composer Richard Strauss.

“Every time I sing at these meetings, I sigh, a little. Every time I beg for German, I wonder why, a little,” Chanin sang. “Why the district above me, who must be in the know, thinks so little of German, they’ve allowed it to go. Grandfather in my daughter, I must implore you. Don’t face the wrath of Cole Porter and we’ll adore you. There’s no outcome finer when you graduate with a German — major or minor. Stakeholders will agree. Every time you will succeed.”

She wasn’t the only parent to try something unconventional.

Bebe McCarthy, who has spoken at four previous meetings, brought in the German cookies to the board, but told The Press that it was hard to tell if the parents were making progress.

Daniela Kinsbourne, who along with Chanin started a petition in September that has accumulated 551 signatures, also gave public comment Monday night.

“Listen to the comments you’ve received tonight and at previous meetings,” said Kinsbourne, who has attended every board meeting since Sept. 26.

“Keep all of your foreign language programs, and show that you value the diversity they bring to each student’s education.”

The board thanked Chanin for her song and McCarthy for her snacks but gave no indication that it has changed its mind about discontinuing the German program.

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