(Memphis) At a packed church in South Memphis Tuesday night, members of the community vowed to make their voices heard and form a committee to prevent the closure of Carver High School.
Carver is just one of 12 schools being considered for closure by the 2014-2015 school year. Principals and teachers from other schools on the list also showed up Tuesday.
TN Rep. Joe Towns (D – Memphis) is a Carver High School alumnus and spoke to the crowd.
“This is personal. And we’ve already taken the gloves off,” he said.
Towns warned that “you’re going to have a big eyesore down here creating crime, depreciating property value, and all the ruin that goes around the school. It will never be open again.”
Pastor Ralph White of Bloomfield Baptist Church said that he would take volunteers for a small committee. He said that Interim Superintendent Dorsey Hopson has agreed to meet with their committee about Carver High School.
White said if all else fails, they can attend a school board meeting and attempt to sit in the middle of the floor until someone listens.
The school district is attempting to save money by closing certain schools where enrollment is low.
White would like to suggest to the superintendent making Carver a 7th through 12th grade school, thereby absorbing students from Riverview Middle School.
The consolidation would at least keep schools open in the neighborhood, rather than have Carver High School students travel to attend Booker T Washington High School on a rival gang territory.
One Carver High student said, “When you’re sitting in a classroom where someone has possibly just murdered, or knows somebody or is related to somebody that’s just murdered your brother, your sister, or your cousin, or somebody of that nature, how would you feel?”
The Carver student body president, Kemario Davis, said the front row of the church was reserved for school board members and city officials. But the pew was empty.
Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks, and TN representatives Joe Towns and Barbara Cooper were present.
Alumni filled the room, some who said they had moved away from the area but have moved back to help the community.
Charles Hayes, class of 1965, said their class does a lot of work to support the girls’ athletic programs. They also create scholarship opportunities.
Hayes reminisces on his high school days: “the sports programs that we had, the arts program, we had a huge band, a great choir.”
But now the population shift away from the area has meant fewer students and fewer opportunities for big extra-curricular clubs.
“There are so many things that need to be worked on, it’s really difficult to know where to start,” Hayes said.
But they all agree, they want help to revitalize the neighborhood. They said closing schools will only make things worse.