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Students fight to save their school
Jennifer Rodrigues
SARA GASROW

When the recommendation was made by the short-term facilities committee to close Gorton Junior High School, students immediately expressed their disappointment and their desire to take action and save their school.

“It went out on Facebook from kids whose parents were at the meeting,” said Jack Miranda, a seventh grader at Gorton.

After teachers confirmed the facts, it was not easy to hide their disappointment. According to Sara Gasrow, vice president of the Gorton Student Council, the teachers created a Facebook page to garner support for the school, and in just a few days the page had over 300 likes.

“The atmosphere is not good,” said Peter Stone, a social studies teacher at Gorton, during a phone interview on Friday. “It’s a school that is near and dear to our hearts.”

“I was disappointed,” said Gasrow, who is in the eighth grade. “I spent two years here and I really liked coming here.”

Stone, advisor to the student council, assisted Gasrow and the rest of the student council in drafting a letter stating reasons they believe closing their school would be the wrong choice.

One of the group’s biggest concerns is the capacity of the two remaining junior high schools – Winman and Aldrich – if Gorton is closed. The question is whether the two schools could accommodate a middle school system that would include grades 6-8. The junior high system consists of grades 7 and 8.

“When you have too many students in schools, the classrooms will be overcrowded,” said Gasrow. “It would be overwhelming [for students].”

In addition to losing the benefit of individual attention in smaller classes, student council members believe that by closing one of the schools, the possibility for transition to a middle school model in Warwick would prove to be impossible.

Jason Tuttle, treasurer of the student council, explained that only 17 percent of schools across the nation have retained a seventh and eighth grade junior high model and 65 percent of principals nationwide prefer a middle school model.

The council feels that eventually transitioning to the middle school model will benefit younger students.

“It would help elementary schools to provide full-day kindergarten, promoting younger students’ education,” said Gasrow.

Another factor in the decision to close Gorton was the school’s location. While many see Aldrich Junior High School’s location on Post Road as an advantage, Gorton students don’t agree.

“It is safer being in the community,” said Gasrow about the location of Gorton.

Tuttle, a seventh grader who lives across the street from the school and walks every day, agreed. “There is a walkway right outside the school making it safe for students.”

Transportation is also a major concern for Miranda.

“[Closing Gorton] would make it hard on my mom who needs to get me to school each day. I live closer to Gorton,” said Miranda.

Tuttle, who has been through this experience before as a student at John Greene Elementary School, which closed in 2009, believes Gorton was not given the proper consideration in the decision.

“Mr. Bushell, who made the motion to close Gorton, chose Gorton because of the looks, not the community, not the education,” he said.

Miranda agrees.

“I think they should look more at the community and how the school runs,” she said.

In their letter, the student council stated all of the good they feel their school has done for the community. Each year, the school participates in fundraisers, including Rachel’s Challenge, Pennies for Patients and the Feinstein canned food drive. In addition, the school hosts an annual Gong Show, and this year money raised during the event is going into a scholarship fund in honor of George Schmeider, a former Gorton teacher. The scholarship will go to a student at Veterans Memorial High School.

While the council has made sure to present their reasoning in their fight to save Gorton, they cannot help but be emotional as well.

“It’s my school,” said Tuttle. “I just got here.”

Gasrow, who will be transitioning to high school in the fall, cannot help but think about future students.

“I had such a good experience here and it is sad to think some people aren’t going to get to come here,” she said.

While they have no set plans going forward, the student council is hoping to be present at the School Committee meeting that will decide the fate of their school and that they will be given the opportunity to present their side of the story.


Comments
3 comments on this item

This just breaks my heart . Way back when they chose to close John Greene over Warwick Neck( I wonder why ) I knew then it would only be a matter of time before Gorton got the axe. These choices are made way ahead of time. How Warwick has always worked and will continue to work is this. When Warwick wants a building or property for something they will make it go away no matter what. The false reasons are fed to the residents and they always take the bait. This city makes their plans years in advance before anyone of us know about them. Having both of these schools go away was already planned out. Can't wait to see who gets the property or how the city will use it . Look at Rocky Point. The mayor wanted that so bad he could hardly contain himself. It took priority over many more important things too. How come so many outside deals fell through to purchase it ? In the end the Mayor got what he wanted and the state ended up with the rest of the property. Nobody firnds that a bit fishy? It was all planned from the beginning and no one will convince me that it wasn't Same as John Greene and Gorton. Someone wants the building or land for something .As for the location,it is perfect and in a safe area for kids but lets have them hang out at Walmart where all the druggies go to sell drugs. Great choice Warwick!

And the conditions of ALL Warwick schools is sad. Bring our schools up to condition --classrooms need adequate facilities to accommodate the growing use of technology. Schools also need extreme repairs or even replacement. When will the Warwick put our students first?!

If you are not happy with this decision please contact your local school committee and tell them how you feel. Tell them your vote in November will reflect their vote on keeping the schools open.

Here are their phone numbers to help you along in this process:

TOLL GATE/WINMAN AREA

Bethany A. Furtado, Chairperson

18 Cardinal St, Warwick, RI, 02886

401-737-2354

VETS/GORTON AREA

M. Terri Medeiros, Vice Chair

5 Lyndon Avenue, Warwick, RI, 02889

401-921-5116

EVERYONE CALL- ALL AREAS

Jennifer Ahearn, Clerk

401-954-1279

PILGRIM/ALDRICH AREA

Eugene A. Nadeau

15 Killdeer Road, Warwick, RI, 02888

401-463-8742

EVERYONE CALL- ALL AREAS

Karen Bachus

208 Burt Street, Warwick, RI, 02886

401-738-2106

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