My Turn: Jennifer Bringle Handy – Don’t break up the North ‘family’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 12, 2018

In 1990, I stepped into the hallways of North Rowan Middle School a timid, anxious sixth-grader unsure of what middle school and a new group of kids would hold for me. Little did I know that North would be a place where I’d discover my true passion and forge lifelong friendships.

As a student at North Rowan Middle and High schools, I became part of a tight-knit community that helped me navigate the ups and downs of my teen years. My fellow students, teachers, coaches and administrators encouraged me to follow my dreams and taught me the true meaning of caring for others. We weren’t just a school — we were truly a family.

In the years since graduating from North Rowan High, I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree at N.C. State and embarked on a career as a professional writer and editor — my dream job. I’ve written for The Washington Post, Southern Living, The Huffington Post and been on staff at The News & Observer of Raleigh. I even won a writing contest named for Rose Post, a Salisbury hero of mine growing up.

I’m not saying this to brag on myself, but rather to show the potential in me nurtured by my time at North Rowan High. And I’m just one example — this school has produced doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, artists and so many other incredibly accomplished individuals.

But that achievement is just part of the story. For me, North Rowan gave me something even more valuable than the educational foundation that I’ve built my career upon.

In 2000, my parents were in a horrific car accident, and my mother was killed. Even though we’d all gone our separate ways in college, my friends from North rallied around me, helping me survive one of the most difficult times of my life. They did the same thing two years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

That’s what my North Rowan High family does. When we’re down, we prop each other up, even more than 20 years after graduating. And we’re there for each other in good times, too — we’ve celebrated weddings, new houses, babies and birthdays together.

In fact, even though I now live in Greensboro, I rang in my 40th birthday surrounded by my North Rowan friends.

I understand financial decisions need to be made, but to remove North Rowan High from the Spencer/East Spencer community would be to remove the community’s heart. That school means so much more to all of us who have and will attend than mere dollar amounts can reflect. Ending this community institution and taking these kids from their home and busing them to other schools will be detrimental not only to the students, faculty and staff of North, but to the Spencer/East Spencer community as a whole.

I urge you to not take this decision lightly, and think about the incredibly negative impact closing this school will have on the Spencer/East Spencer community for years to come.

Jennifer Bringle Handy lives in Greensboro.