In January, every Junior at Mountain Crest High School who currently lives in the new boundaries for Ridgeline High School were given an option. They could continue to attend Mountain Crest and graduate as a Mustang, or they could attend one year of school, and their last year of high school, and be the first graduating class at Ridgeline.
Of the approximately 600 students that had the option, only 25 decided to stay at Mountain Crest. It’s a number that somewhat surprised Cache County School District officials. Now, it look likes Ridgeline and Mountain Crest will be close in enrollment.
“Parents have until the end of February to fill out what’s called Student Choice, or Parent Choice,” says Mike Liechty, Deputy Superintendent of the Cache County School District. “If there is room available, a student can provide their own transportation and attend a school outside their attendance area, unless it’s tied to athletics, and that’s a whole different story.
“We haven’t gone through those requests yet but right now it’s looking like Ridgeline would open around 1300 students and Mountain Crest would be 1360.”
For athletics, that would make both Ridgeline and Mountain Crest 3A/3AA schools. Yet the Utah High School Athletics Association reaffirmed its decision on January 28th to keep Mountain Crest as a 5A school despite the split. And that is frustrating a lot of people in Cache Valley.
“As a district we went down with the superintendent, myself, the athletic directors, the principal and we made two petitions to their board and committee. They made their decision and they wouldn’t change their mind. They said Mountain Crest would have to wait.”
Even though Mountain Crest would be a 3A size school for athletics, they have to stay in a 5A classification until the UHSAA goes through reclassification next year. Liechty says that doesn’t make a lot of sense to people on the outside trying to think through that.
Not only is the district and Mountain Crest administration upset about it, a group of parents are also concerned about how the decision will place the Mustangs at a disadvantage for the upcoming athletic year.
Since the school and district were unable to make much headway, <a href=”https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1PJfUnNYglftf5DVzUCvDIt9G2j1IQogcWQhVn-fBdA0/viewform?c=0&w=1&fbzx=-4835875003893184785″ target=”_blank”>a petition</a> has been started asking the UHSAA to reconsider their decision. The petition points out UHSAA bylaws that students should compete against other schools in “fair and prudent” circumstances. In their opinion, keeping Mountain Crest as a 5A school is neither fair nor prudent.
Mountain Crest would be competing against other 5A schools that would have anywhere between 700 and 1700 more students. For example, Copper Hills and Lone Peak would have more than twice the student population that Mountain Crest would have.
The petition claims that would put Mustang student athletes at greater risk for injury. Larger schools have a bigger pool to draw from for their athletics, have more experienced players and have full rosters. The fear is that Mountain Crest would not, and would not have the same level of physically and emotionally mature student athletes.
Additionally, the petition points out the unfair aspect of competition, not just for athletics, but also band, choir, debate, dance and theater.
“We do not believe the UHSAA is considering the needs and safety of Mountain Crest students in this manner,” it reads. “We do not believe they are upholding what they claim is the purpose of their organization.”
“We don’t think it’s a level playing field,” says Liechty. “Utah High Schools (Athletics Association) claims to be all about students and fairness. Their own decisions don’t reflect that.”
The petition has over 1,000 signatures, but Liechty is not sure it will have much effect.