Students at Northwest are not letting their high school close without a fight.
About 150 students, parents and community members sat in the vast auditorium for a meeting of the Indianapolis Public Schools Board Thursday. Some teens were decked out in cheerleading uniforms, with pom poms at their feet. Others wore the camouflage of the junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Several went to the microphone to plead for their school.
It was the fourth and last board meeting at a school that is slated to close under a proposal from the IPS administration. If it is approved, Northwest and Arlington high schools will be converted to middle schools and Broad Ripple High School and John Marshall Middle School will close. Northwest, which is in one of the city’s most diverse areas, would also house the newcomer program for students who are just beginning to learn English. The board is expected to vote in September.
Here are some comments — edited for brevity and clarity — from students and parents at the meeting.
Andrea Newson, parent and alumna
“I am here on behalf of my son who is a sophomore at Northwest High School. I am also a graduate of Northwest class of 2001. My brother is also a graduate.
“I am here because we love Northwest. I am simply here to ask you all to reconsider. We have been in this community for over 20 years and Northwest has always been a safe place not only for myself but for my son as well.
“My son is more successful now in his high school career than he has been. This is his second year of high school, and it is my hope that he will be able to walk across this stage for the graduating class of 2020.”
Zhy’yon Hoover, student
“I’ve been a student here since I was in 8th grade. What you hear on the outside doesn’t reflect what’s going on on the inside.
“Once I got here, I realized I wanted to stay here. I want to graduate here. My grandmother graduated here. My mother graduated here. And I want to be the next graduate.
“This is my high school. This is our high school.”
Patricia Starks, parent
“My son has been here since the 7th grade. He is an A and B honor roll (student). He’s also on ROTC doing excellent.
“We moved here from Gary, Indiana. Since he’s been here, he’s been improving a whole lot. The teachers know him. The teachers know myself and my husband. To take this away from him would be devastating.
“He’s a junior. He doesn’t want to go to another school for his senior year. This is important to him. It’s important to me.
“We’re doing everything that we have to do to make sure that our children achieve. But if y’all take that away from us, where are they going to go? We will probably lose most of them dropping out of school. ”
Latashiana Garrett, student
“I’ve been here since my sophomore year.
“I’m just a kid. I’m just a teenager, but this is a lot to me because this is my last year. I’m going to walk this stage. Kids — this is their dream. They’re looking forward to walking, and they won’t have that opportunity just because.
“I just don’t think it’s fair. They are going to be sent to a school where they are not welcome. I just don’t think you should do it.”