I am a student. Not just the “Do exercises four through seven” or “Essay due by next Wednesday” type of student. I’m also the kind that watches how the busy mother late for work in front of me interacts with a cashier. Or how the coffee-deprived father talks with the waitress in the morning. I’m the kind of student who learns how to grow and act independently from watching the people around me. As you probably are, or your son or daughter, grandchild, niece, nephew. So while we may be proud of Wilton’s academics, we do have a top ranking school, some don’t consider that, from grade school to high school and beyond, we are students. And students learn both inside and outside the classroom.

These past few months, I’ve learned quite a few new things outside of class. I know how divisive opposition can be and what some people will do when they don’t succeed. This knowledge came from a debate over whether or not to draw pickleball lines on the new tennis courts. One would assume that a small issue like that wouldn’t cause a ripple; evidently there was a tsunami. As a tennis player, I must admit my bias against the lines. But the lessons I learned did not come from who got whose way. The lessons came from how people responded.

Everything started with a small proposition to Parks and Rec by pickleball players. This proposition was responded to with great passion by the entirety of the tennis community. With fire burning on both sides, tennis and pickleball players alike fought for support of their causes with reasonable arguments and equal excitement. After holding a meeting open to players of both sides, the Parks and Rec board discussed their recommendation for the Board of Selectmen meeting, which would yield the final decision on whether or not lines for pickleball would be drawn on the tennis courts.

The selectmen meeting passed surprisingly calmly and with unexpected respect. The proposal to add lines to the tennis courts was kindly rescinded by those who proposed it, as they claimed to realize it would not work out. A peaceful conclusion to a less-than-pleasant argument. It seemed everything had reached a logical end.

Today, I hear about pickleball players who scribble chalk lines across a new tennis court and leave them there, just after they rescinded their proposition to paint them on. Neither side, the tennis players nor pickleball players ever acted with perfect diplomacy, however, this act of defiance has crossed a line. I have a sister who hears more than anyone gives her credit for hearing, and I know children across town just the same. I fear that they and other younger members of our community will hear about people acting like this and think it is appropriate. They will think this is acceptable.

This is just a single example, but every day we make decisions that someone else sees and learns from. Every choice we make could be a lesson for the kid standing five feet away. And so, while I’m proud of my school, and my town, and the people I share it with, I am also concerned about what was just taught by this altercation and concerned about the people who taught it.

I am guilty of teaching poor behavior, too. However, I appreciate that the pickleball issue has shined a light on this serious problem because now that it is exposed, I can work to improve myself and act as a better role model. I hope everyone will recognize that in Wilton, we are students. And as students, we are always learning. So I implore all of you to try as I will try myself, before snapping at a waiter for mixing up your order, or making a fake Facebook account to support your own agenda, ask yourself, what kind of teacher do you want to be?


Tor Aronson is a senior at Wilton High School. He shares this column with five classmates.