My Turn, Ella Jones: Save our school

Published 12:05 am Thursday, December 20, 2018

My name is Ella Jones, and I am a seventh- grader at North Rowan Middle School. I have attended both North Rowan Elementary and Middle schools since first grade and I hate to admit because of consolidation, my attendance at North Rowan may end next year. You have heard about how terminating North Rowan High School is beneficial to our school system’s finances and how students will not be affected, but let me help you see through the eyes of the people who will be impacted by this decision.

I’m sitting in class. The people in the room are trying to comprehend the unfathomable. Are they going to close our school?

My friends around me are crying; people are talking quietly amongst themselves about what high school they will have to attend, and no one is actively learning.

I am looking around, it’s obvious that we are all upset by what might happen. We were just living our normal middle school lives, but then we got caught by this decision like a deer in headlights. I don’t think that any of us fully understand what is to come.

So, you may be asking why it matters so much to me where I go to high school? I’m going to end up fine anyways. Right? This is most likely true, yet I’m not worried about me. I’m worried about the students who have a hard time meeting new people. These students will be forced to create new relationships at a completely new school.

North High is at an overall peak right now. The principal, the staff and the students are making it better than it has ever been before. It’s hard to give students the best education, though, when there is less-than-standard care of building facilities compared to most other high schools in the county. And care is not the janitorial or maintenance staff; care is the money that is put into keeping the school with heating and air conditioning and without chipped paint and creatures crawling everywhere.

North has been disregarded over the past years. One main reason why North is being considered for closure is because it has been neglected in the past. That is not the students’ fault. The school system unfortunately chose to neglect North High many years ago, and now that past decision seems to serve as the one of the main reasons why the school should be closed. Why should the students have to struggle for a mistake that the school system made?

The school system hasn’t given any reason about North potentially being closed because of anything education related. I’ve heard about the system’s financial struggles and how the school system receives so little when needing so much. But I don’t know a single student who is not excited about the knowledge they are gaining at North Rowan High School.

North is extremely misjudged. When I go out and interact with students from other schools, they are either terrified or pity me. It’s the perception that North’s students are different or maybe even worth less than others, but it’s not true at all. I’ve heard everything: we are all in gangs, there are fights every day, and we are not as smart as other schools.

That is where you are wrong. We have exceedingly intelligent students. We also have students with incredible potential that is not assessed in the curriculum we are being taught today. Some people are not best served by a four-year college degree, but I’m never going to look down on someone for not going to college so they can be in the military, be a hairdresser, or learn a trade. Why doesn’t our school system offer a trade school? Their answer? Close Koontz and make it one. It would cost at least $10 million to do so. We have a high school that’s half full and, if updated, would be perfect for it. Make North a vocational and typical high school. Allow the community to continue to have pride in the school, its athletics, theater, its technological advances, and we will be able to attend a school that is actually in our community.

I’m not against consolidating schools. Consolidation brings the same students all back into one space, same teachers, just better equipment. It’s when you split people apart that I am worried about. There is a great difference between bringing schools together and students being dispersed. When you disperse students you make it so they all go in small groups to many different places. Sending 100 North students to East, they will not become East students (at least not very quickly); they will be outsiders because they are Cavaliers now on Mustangs turf.

The students, my classmates I am around more than 40 hours a week could not care more for each other. If we go to different schools it will take time to form these deep bonds we already have. No one is going to come up and tell me their mom left and no one knows where she is, that they ate one meal over the break, or that their family member passed away over the weekend.

There also won’t be the energy and momentum gained from the moments when a friend’s dad came home from deployment, or a brother got a college scholarship for football, or discussion about the latest shoes a friend got this weekend.

The school system must think deeply about the fact that we learn just as much about relationships, caring for each other, and communication skills as we do algebra and biology. It takes time to form relationships like the ones we have, but it takes one decision for you to destroy them and Spencer/East Spencer’s community future.

I don’t know what we need to say or do or scream at the the top of our lungs, but we are willing to do it. Keep our school open!

Ella Jones is a student at North Rowan Middle School.