Students protest merger
by Chance Wright
Apr 08, 2012 | 3946 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Elliste'onna Bracey, kneeling in the front, organized a student protest in Drew on Friday against the possible merger of Drew High School with Ruleville Central High School.
Elliste'onna Bracey, kneeling in the front, organized a student protest in Drew on Friday against the possible merger of Drew High School with Ruleville Central High School.
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DREW — Chants of "Oh no we won't go" coupled with the honking of car horns in support of the cause could be heard for several blocks Friday as a large group of students, parents and school faculty from the Drew School District protested a possible merger with Ruleville.

"It was brought to our attention recently that the Mississippi Department of Education was conducting a study of the possibility of busing our children here in Drew over to Ruleville and closing down our city schools," said Melanie Townsend, a 1985 graduate of Drew High School and currently a member of the Drew PTA, as well as a parent of a student that will be entering high school next year.

After receiving the news of the possible merger Elliste'onna Bracey, a senior at Drew High School, began organizing events that ultimately led to Friday's demonstration.

"We are here to today to protest the merger of our school with Ruleville," said Bracey at the demonstration's rally next to the public library on West Park Avenue. "We (students) don't think that it is fair and we don't want to go. That is why we are here today."

"I just don't think that it is fair because no one has asked for the parents, the administration or the students opinions on the possible merger," added Townsend.

The small town of Drew, located in northern Sunflower County, has struggled over the past decade and the economic downturn that has plagued much of the country has been especially difficult on the Mississippi Delta Region.

During that time span residents have seen many of their town's amenities close their doors as a result of the recession.

According to Townsend there are multiple reasons that the parents and students are concerned with the possibility of a merger.

"With the closing of the SuperValu grocery store, there are few employment opportunities available here," she said. "The Drew School District is the largest employer in this area and if the schools merge then we fear that there will be that many more unemployed here."

In athletics every school has a rival that can at times turn ugly and sometimes that rivalry can spread out into the community.

"Ruleville is our rival," said Bracey. "We don't like them and they don't like us."

Townsend said that she fears that the rivalry between to the two communities could lead to unfairness and even violence in the classroom.

"The rivalry between the two communities is very much there," added Townsend. "I am very concerned about that. I ask myself who will be on that bus with my child and how will he be treated in the classrooms there. There are already a lot of fights that are taking place between the communities and I fear that a sudden, mandated merger would escalate the situation even more."

Other concerns voiced by the student protesters included; what are the school colors going to be, what will be the school's mascot and even the transition from the studies ongoing in the Drew classroom compared to what the students are doing in Ruleville.

"This is our community and our kids and I feel like those making these decision need to understand that we do have a voice," concluded Townsend. "We just feel that there is no way that a transition of this magnitude is going to go smoothly."