Students, faculty and residents react to closing of Reynaud Midd - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Students, faculty and residents react to closing of Reynaud Middle School

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

It was business as usual on Wednesday at Reynaud Middle School, but Tuesday night's decision by the Calcasieu Parish School Board to close the school was on everyone's mind. 

"Most of these kids like Reynaud" said Rashinee Mitchell, an 8th grade student at Reynaud.  "They don't want to go to any other place because they like Reynaud.   They like the teachers, they like the students, they like how they learn, they like the environment" Mitchell said. 

Not enough for the school board; members are trying to close a $10 million budget deficit.  Closing Reynaud saves them just under $2 million.  Next school year, Reynaud students will consolidate into Oak Park and Molo Middle, a transition students say won't be easy. 

"I was thinking how they'll feel unwelcome and it'll take them a little while for them to adapt to the new school" said Alfred Davis, Jr., an 8th grade student at Reynaud.  "I was very sad when I heard it.  I was very surprised". 

"I am thankful to God for having been afforded the opportunity to work with the students, teachers, families, and business partners of those attending our school" said Reynaud principal, Carolyn Thomas-Clark, in a statement to KPLC.  

"I have grown as an educator through the professional development offered to me through the Middle School department, Virginia State's Turnaround Specialist program, as well as our work in Memorandum of Understanding with the Recovery School District, despite the stigma associated with this group" the statement goes on to say. 

As for her students, Thomas-Clark said, "Our students will be fine... many of them are like the lotus flower; they will blossom anywhere they go.  Nothing could ever put their lights out.  Others may struggle a bit until they get settle; they will be fine".

For her fellow educators, Thomas-Clark said "I pray that they are able to obtain assignments that they will find personally fulfilling. They are most certainly deserving!"

The community, although not surprised, is reeling from the news of the closure.  

"It's going to really be more of a crime rate" said area resident, Jonpierre Bush.  "If more kids be around then less danger be around but if no kids around there's going to be more danger". 

Another resident thinks it's a hidden opportunity. 

"It's an opportunity for a lot of them to get out of the neighborhood and go to a different school so I understand" said Jeffrey Guillory.  "A lot of parents are sending their kids to a different school".

School Board officials say majority of students at Reynaud will move to Molo Magnet Middle School.  Molo principal, Shonna Anderson- a graduate and former teacher at Reynaud, says her school is ready for the new students. 

"We are ready with open arms for the students from Reynaud -and any student for that matter" said Anderson.  "We have a lot to offer students here" she said. 

Quoting Henry Ford, Anderson said "Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is success... students at Molo will be successful".

"I encourage members of the community to come to visit us" said Anderson.  "We have awesome, highly effective teachers that work very hard to meet the needs of ALL students.  We have a climate and culture that is conducive to learning and our students are making great gains as evidenced by the fact that we are a top gains school!"

The closure of Reynaud will be official when the 2013-2014 school year ends in the spring.

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