by Michael R. Allen
ST. LOUIS, Mo. â€“ One hundred public school supporters held a Save Our Schools Rally at Shepard Elementary School at 3405 Wisconsin this morning to show support for keeping the school open. They then marched to Monroe Elementary, Carnahan High School, Meramec Elementary, three schools that have been recommended to stay open, with a concluding rally at Cleveland High School on S. Grand (which was closed three years ago).
At Shepard Alderman Craig Schmid urged participants to sign a petition opposing the closure of St. Louis Public Schools such as Shepard (e-MINTS) Elementary, Meramec Elementary, Cleveland High and Scruggs Elementary. â€œThere are plenty of children in the area, but we have not seen sufficient efforts to market or recruit students to participate in quality St. Louis Public School programming,â€ Schmid said. Shepard pre-schoolers led those gathered in saying the pledge of allegiance to the flag and singing â€œThe Star Spangled Bannerâ€ before reciting a portion of a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
At Monroe Elementary, Schmid told the history of the schoolâ€™s successful re-opening after almost 20 years of being closed. He questioned whether charter schools would be accountable to the community for quality education and noted that charter schools already operating in the area do not compare well with student achievement at Monroe.
At Carnahan High School and Meramec Elementary School, marchers stopped to celebrate successes, including recent awards given to Dr. Alice Roach, principal of Carnahan. Student ambassadors told about high tech classroom aids available at the school and announced that Carnahan had just received accreditation through the North Central Association.
John Chen of The Alliance to Save Cleveland High greeted marchers at the final stop of the Save Our Schools event and told them about work that citizens are doing to get the high school re-opened. Chen said they hope to see the building used as a much-needed community center and â€œas a collection of small learning communities in one large building.â€ Such a model has operated successfully, according to Cleveland supporters who have been researching â€œbest practicesâ€ in other cities.
Alderwoman Dorothy Kirner (Ward 25) and State Representative Jeanette Mott Oxford (District 59) were also present to show support for keeping the schools open. Those interested in joining efforts to support any of these schools are invited to call Schmid at 314-589-6816 or Oxford at 314-771-8882.