Fragile students

To the editor:

The public debate that I’ve heard about school closings has left out an important point about Hillcrest.

Most of Hillcrest’s students are among the district’s most vulnerable. Fifty-eight percent of these children are English language learners. About the same percentage are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. (These two groups of children do overlap, but not entirely. Some ELL children at Hillcrest are eligible for free and reduced lunch, and some non-ELL children are eligible as well.)

Closing Hillcrest would hinder the learning of students who already face tough obstacles. Serious challenges like communicating — or even getting to school — would make starting over in a different school more difficult for these children.

Our two sons are Hillcrest graduates. When we moved to Lawrence five years ago, we chose the Hillcrest neighborhood specifically because the school offered diversity. It’s a wonderful value in the Hillcrest community. If you want to see this in action, just check out an international potluck dinner at the school and see how eager the families are to teach and learn about other cultures. Closing the school would dismantle this beloved international community, which teaches the English speakers all kinds of things about the world every day.

I oppose closing any schools in Lawrence because it will have ripple effects in neighborhoods and in class sizes around the city. But in particular, I oppose closing Hillcrest.