Economic situation takes its toll on SHS families

May 18, 2009 — by Synthia Ling and Tiffany Tung

The senior class is filled with excitement as they imagine throwing up their caps at the graduation ceremony, and then afterwards attending Grad Night, one of the most memorable nights of their lives. There, graduated seniors enjoy one last night of fun with all of their friends and classmates before they go on their separate ways to different colleges. To attend this long-anticipated event, however, requires a bid of more than $225. Some seniors, however, may not be able to pay for this pricey ticket with the current situation of the economy. Many parents in the bay area have lost their jobs and are in tough financial situations.

“Think about if your folks lost their jobs, and you couldn’t afford to go to the prom, participation fees to be in the marching band, to go out for cheerleading, how would you feel?” said assistant principal Karen Hyde.

Since the fall of the economy last September, students have been hearing about the stock market plummeting and companies declaring bankruptcy. The recession has affected people across the nation, and has even hit many here in Saratoga, making many pricey school events such as Prom and Gradation unaffordable for many students.

To be a part of a sports team requires a $200 check, a Japanese workbook alone costs $45 and the event that seniors look forward to the most during high school – prom – costs a whopping $90 a bid not including attire, corsages and pictures. Although schooling is funded by taxes that families pay, the additional costs add up, and some families cannot afford that.

“I’ve had parents come here near in tears because they try to do everything for the kids, but they can’t afford it,” said Hyde. “And so this is a very delicate situation and I can’t emphasize that enough. Students need help with everything.”

And though some students at SHS are fortunate enough to have the money to pay for these events, there are always others that are struggling, which can be seen in the current situation of college selection for many seniors.

“Most of my friends that are seniors right now are choosing UCs and other public schools over privates,” said junior Michael Zhang. “It’s because of financial issues, mostly, and the stock market – I’ve heard about quite a few parents that lost money in the stock market, and [the students] don’t want to pressure their parents.”

The unemployed are many, and in future months, or even years, the economic situation may still be as bad as it is now, but struggling students and their families should know that they are not alone.

“Life is hard now, I know,” said Zhang. “And people can relate, and in the coming years, [the economic situation] will change for the better.”