The Austin Independent School District consists of five 6A schools that compete athletically, one of which is the Ann Richards School. The other four high schools at the 6A level are Bowie, Akins, Anderson, and Austin High. To give clarification on what exactly 6A is, it is defined as the highest categorization for all school organizations that compete in UIL competitions.
Last Spring, it was finalized that would be moved up from 5A to 6A, which means that competing against other schools would become more difficult. Students and staff of Ann Richards had concerns that the school is too small to compete in this category.
“[6A schools] really do have a larger campus and better materials and facilities,” Elayna Middleton said. “There doesn’t seem to be the same compensation for our school compared to other high schools [in 6A] even though we are categorized the same.”
Ms. Lora Tilson was a coach at the Ann Richards school up until the end of last year when she transferred to Bowie high school. Coach Tilson was able to offer insight on the differences between our school and other 6A schools like Bowie.
“Something I thought of that is different, we have more athletic periods during school, not just for volleyball,” Coach Tilson said. “Every sport has at least one period for athletics. Some sports like basketball and football are double blocked meaning they have practice A days and B days 1st and 5th period.”
Additionally, Coach Tilson brought up the difference in student body between Ann Richards and Bowie. There were a few programs offered at Bowie, like tennis and wrestling, that are offered not at Ann Richards.
“There are many things that are possible at Ann Richards,” Coach Tilson said. “It just depends on whether or not we have coaches at Ann Richards or whether or not we are able to have a team so, in other words, [if we have] enough people for it.”
The original push to move Ann Richards up into the 6A division included moving up the UIL competing electives as well. Many students and staff were opposed to the move, especially in the elective UIL categorization, so they fought until ARS fine arts remained in a lower categorization.
“We are already a really small band compared to everybody,” Francesca Abbruzzese (10) said. “Even in 4A we’re a small band, so going to 6A would have meant we would have basically had no chance of getting any awards ever, which is bad because we want to evolve the band program and to do that we have to put our band out there in a positive way, in 6A we would have no chance of doing that.”
Abbruzzese knows through experience what 6A bands have for their own programs and how that is different than the program at Ann Richards.
“[Other schools in 6A] have a lot more resources and they have more time too because their students aren’t required to do as much in school academically,” Abbruzzese said. “Our school doesn’t rehearse nearly as much as Bowie, and we can’t because of how hard our school is. We have a disadvantage in that way.”
Kevin Fontenot is a substitute teachers in AISD and has also seen different facilities at two 6A campuses besides Ann Richards which are Anderson and Akins. He brought up the bigger student bodies at the other schools, and the heavier emphasis on fine arts at other schools primarily in the theatre arts departments.
“Most of those schools have auditoriums for their theatre department and I know here we just have the stage in the cafeteria,” Fontenot said.
Most people agreed that there are discrepancies between the Ann Richards student body and the student body of other 6A schools. The students and staff of Ann Richards have also pointed out that there are fewer resources available for our school compared to the other high schools that we are now expected to compete against.