Editor's Note: This letter is in response to a letter written by a North Clay Middle School student:
To the Editor:
To Mabry TerMeer,
I read your excellent letter of April 13 and had hoped someone would reply to my hostage letter.
I have a concern for all students 6-8 grade levels.
Over the years, I have had concern about our large number of dropout students who do not graduate from high school. I believe the origin for these students' problems can be found in our middle school.
We have students leaving our middle school, continue to reside in Clay Community School Corporation, and seek their education outside our corporation.
The numbers of dropout students have increased since North Clay Middle School opened its doors.
Sixth-grade students serve a pivotal position between K-5 and 9-12 students.
I believe sixth-graders, as a group, have a greater variance in their emotional status than any other grade level.
This leads to some sixth-graders being better learners in our middle school. Your letter indicates that perhaps you are part of the second group.
But I don't believe that you can give me the number of your sixth-grade classmates who belong in an elementary school. I don't know if anyone has the answer to that.
But, we who are concerned about all our students, deserve a stab at an answer.
I, as a school board member, our teachers and parents don't know when dropout students begin to consider this option.
But when they do dropout, I get furious, depressed and concerned, just as you did with my letter.
When I think of the number of students going out into the world before graduating.
Your letter brings out all the memories I have had over the years concerning these students.
I think about the frame of mind these students have on the last day of their school attendance.
I do believe that some of them leave feeling like a hostage and drop out to break their bondage with their school.
As a current school board member, I have requested that our board establish a School Board Cracker Barrel Session of board members, moms, dads, teachers and student representatives from your school.
Your school is in my voting district and I feel that our Superintendent and School Board should honor my request.
Instead, our Superintendent, our board president and some other board members have all blocked my request.
This cracker barrel session is doomed. Some students passing through your school continue to drop out sooner or later.
I am glad that my hostage letter prompted your letter.
I never supported or presented any movement of sixth-graders back to elementaries. I needed to hear from the voters, your parents, the consumers of the current education being provided in your middle school.
With that information, I would have a basis to make valid decisions to help all students get their education.
Neighboring school corporations have successfully moved all sixth-graders back to their individual elementary schools.
If the majority of cracker barrel participants so desired, I would support them.
Why, oh why does our school corporation continue to separate students, teachers, school board and parents from the school planning process?
I feel like a hostage myself as a school board member.
Mabry, we need truth, honesty, responsibility and trust in each other so that our schools can progress.
Keep your letters coming to me.
Look for sixth-grade classmates who may need help in future grade levels and let me know if you think you can help us understand why some drop out.
In my book, one dropout student is one too many.
Let your mother know that you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.