The Communicator

CHS Draws Lottery Numbers for Incoming Class of 2021

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Community High Room 222 had an air of anticipation and excitement on Feb. 22. Jokes were being made and papers were being shuffled, but the administrators in the room knew that they had an important task in front of them. On this Wednesday morning, the CHS administration drew names from two bins for the lottery of the incoming CHS class of 2021. The lottery is a cornerstone in CHS history, as it keeps the size of the school traditionally small.

The process lasted about two and a half hours and consisted of counselors John Boshoven and Brian Williamson opposite sides of Dean Marci Tuzinsky, who sat in the middlerandomly and simultaneously drawing index cards from two blue bins: one with names printed on them and one with numbers. Tuzinsky then stapled the corresponding name and numbers and put them into a separate pile. CHS secretaries Wendi Allen and Gretchen Eby, and a PTO representative then wrote the number on a list of all the applicants’ names. Out of 393 applicants, there were only 132 spots available, which gave the students around a one in three chance of being invited to attend Community High.

As well as the administration, there was an outside auditor to make sure that the drawing was being executed fairly and in a non-biased manner. Also in the room was Donald Harrison, the producer for the upcoming documentary “Commie High: The Film.” Harrison documented most of the process on his camera.

The paper-drawing process, while tedious, is a sure and foolproof way to give each applicant the same opportunity as everybody else. “We’ve done [this] by paper for years and years,” Tuzinsky explained. “If we do it on a computer we could all be in this room for 30 seconds and it would be great. But the amount of time that it would cost us after the fact to prove that it wasn’t rigged or that we didn’t program it so that some people didn’t have an advantage over the other would cost us more time than to do this by hand.” The presence of an auditor also helped with this fairness.

And the key word of the lottery drawing was “random.” Excluding the children of CHS staff, each child has the same shot at getting into the school, regardless of sibling status, race, gender or any other factor. While there were some exclamations from the administration of “I hope he/she gets in!” or “His/her sibling is so sweet!,” there was no outside interference: the counselors’ draw was clearly final.

But it hasn’t always been this way. During the 1990s, Community had a first-come, first-served application process, which led to students camping out waiting to get in. CHS alum Maisie Wilhelm camped out for two weeks with her friends for the chance to be first in line for the application process in 1996, when she was in eighth grade. Wilhelm resided in a tent on the backyard of the Balas Administration Building where she lived through many thingsincluding a snowstorm, occasionally having to sleep in a car, and hiring college students to hold her spot while she showered at home. Wilhelm believes that the application process has improved from the 90’s. “It’s bittersweet,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s very fair to have 100 percent lottery.”

The official list for the CHS class of 2021 came out at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 22. The first 132 names will be offered a spot at Community High, and the 133rd name will become the first on the waitlist.

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