Jan 17, 2013 1:34 AM by Jacqui Heinrich,

Emotions run high at Wasson High School closure discussion

Parents, students, and school staff met for a second time at Wasson High School Wednesday night; it's one of three schools District 11 is considering closing in an effort to cut costs.

There were many tears shed as community members voiced their concerns to the school board. The district even called in extra security to keep the peace as people gathered to discuss such a controversial topic. Most everyone in the crowd was in support of keeping Wasson open, but the decision is ultimately up to the Board of Education; students, parents, and teachers seized one of their last opportunities to make their wishes heard.

"I couldn't read when I was a freshman," one student said. "I actually wanted to drop out of school," followed another. Wasson High School students took turns at the microphone to deliver one common messsage: they couldn't have made it if it weren't for Wasson High.

"Everybody-- the staff, the administration-- they care and that's what makes it hard hearing that they might close Wasson down," Nayeli Vicencio, a junior, told News 5 through her tears.

Hundreds of people came to the meeting with compelling stories-- the line to the microphone reached the back of the auditorium-- pleading with the Board to give others the same chance they had.

Kaitlynn Komer, a junior, was just fifteen when she became pregnant; she credits her teachers for turning her life around. "I went from being suicidal and just didn't know where to go to being an awesome parent, graduating with a 3.0, possibly getting accepted to UCCS. I'm actually going places because of this school," she said.

It wasn't just students who came out in numbers; it was their parents, too. "I couldn't get my son to go to middle school," James Case, father of two Wasson students said. "He would kick, he would scream, he wouldn't get out of bed, he would bite. He comes to Wasson, he has friends, he's in the ROTC program, he's accelerating."

They say their biggest fear is if Wasson closes, they won't get the one-one-one educational experience elsewhere that's so unique to their school, which would be especially difficult for kids who would otherwise fall through the cracks.

About 1,300 students wait with bated breath for the answer they're hoping for: that D-11 will find some other way to make ends meet without sacrificing the school they all know and love.

District officials say this process is never easy but something has to be done to keep the district afloat as declining enrollment rates, aging buildings, and poor student performance are putting kinks in the budget.

There are two more public meetings to come-- one on January 23rd and another on February 6th-- before the Board of Education makes their final decision.



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