The Power of Civic Engagement

Bona Verba from the Headmaster

In a testament to the power of civic engagement, approximately 150 people gathered for a 3.5-hour meeting of the Miami Township Zoning Board last night. The sole topic of discussion was Cincinnati Classical Academy’s request for a zoning change that would allow the school to repurpose a 200,000-square-foot office building, an ideal fit for our growing K-12 campus. It was a night that showcased the strength and determination of the CLASSICAL community.

Nearly every person in attendance had one common purpose: to support the school. CLASSICAL parents, neighbors of the property in question, and other residents of Miami Township came together to advocate for a change in zoning that would enable educational use of the building and surrounding 15 acres.

Unfortunately, the outcome was not what we hoped for. The zoning board voted unanimously (six to zero) to deny the petition to rezone. However, the dedication of those present was truly remarkable. Twenty individuals spoke passionately in support of the school’s request, addressing every specious argument against it and countering the distorted facts and figures presented by the opposition.

What made the evening even more special was the involvement of two young CLASSICAL students, seventh-grader Olivia Hickman and fifth-grader Mitchell Young. They courageously took the stage at the public hearing, providing firsthand accounts of what a CLASSICAL education means and what the school can bring to Miami Township. They, along with another dozen or so students in attendance, learned a valuable lesson in civic participation and the importance of standing up for what they believe in. Their words echoed with optimism and resilience, as they reminded everyone that “perseverance pays off.”

It was evident to those present that the zoning board had made its decision long before the meeting even began. There was an obvious reluctance on the part of Miami Township bureaucrats in welcoming the school into the community, with money being the significant underlying factor. CLASSICAL’s tax-exempt status as a school was viewed as a loss of potential revenue for Miami Township, even though the building in question has lay dormant for seven years. Furthermore, CLASSICAL parents presented an excellent case that our school’s presence would many an economic boon for the township in many other ways—including patronizing local establishments, buying homes or moving their businesses to Miami Township.

Despite the well-articulated logical and compelling arguments, the outcome appeared predetermined. The pretense of logical arguments mattering to a deliberative government body that did not much deliberate was difficult to witness. However, it served as a true civics lesson, highlighting the importance of civic engagement and advocacy.

In the end, what shined brightly through the night was the unity and civility of the CLASSICAL community. It was a proud moment for the school, a testament to our resilience and dedication to our mission. This odyssey is far from over, and the CLASSICAL community remains undeterred. Our Board of Directors continues to explore other avenues and approaches to the zoning issue, refusing to give up the struggle. As we like to say around here, “Perseverance pays off.”

Torches Up!
Michael Rose
Michael Rose - Headmaster

Mr. Michael Rose

Meet the Headmaster

Mr. Rose has taught various courses at Brown University, Cincinnati Moeller, and The Summit Country Day School. As a part of his degree work in education, Mr. Rose’s research interests included the Great Books curriculum, the Paideia teaching method, and the “effects of emerging digital technology on student reading, writing, and researching.” Read More