Parents Brave Cold Temperatures For SCS Optional Schools Program Spots

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(Shelby County) Close to 100 Shelby County parents pitched tents Wednesday night hoping to secure a spot for their children in an optional school program.

It's first come, first serve. The line started at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, and the forms won't be passed out until Monday at 6:30 a.m.

"Lots of foam mattresses to try to keep the cold ground from hitting us," said Leah Childers, number seven in line. "The school we're going after is White Station Middle," she said.

Number 36 in line said, "I have multiple sleeping bags and multiple coats!"

Close to 100 Shelby County parents are bundled up in coats and hats, standing by propane heaters and fires and trying to survive the freezing temperatures these next few days. They want to make sure their child gets into a top optional school program.

Deborah McLaughlin is number 38 in line.

"I have to get my kid into White Station Middle sixth grade, so I guess I'm just going to line up with all the other idiots," she said with a laugh.

Most parents said they want their kids in the new Christian Brothers University affiliated STEAM middle or White Station Middle school.

Each optional school program can only take a certain amount of kids with good grades, and most spots are first come, first serve.

Parents said these optional school programs offer more choices in education and more opportunities for their kids.

Some parents want the application system to change.

"We don't need to be standing in this cold," said one parent.

But until that happens, these parents said they will do what it takes for the child's future.

"It's the best opportunity I can give him," said Childers.

Shelby County Schools released this statement: "Due to safety concerns, we do not encourage parents to camp out for Optional School applications. There is no great advantage to camping out days in advance. Very few qualified applicants are denied their school choice if they meet the program's entrance requirements."


  • Steve Silk

    My wife and I got to wait in that line (2011) to get our daughter Ashley into 6th Grade @ WSMS. HOWEVER long it takes… Regardless of weather… the time spent will be the best investment in your child’s (Public) educational future.

    Ashley was a 4.0 student at WSMS (6th, 7th). We moved to Orlando after the last day of school 2013. Now Ashley is at South West Middle School (Dr. Phillips), and she told me just yesterday how much more prepared she is (compared to her classmates) due to CLUE and the curriculum at WSMS. She said, “in English they are covering vocabulary that we learned in 6th grade.” Regarding Math, she is in Algebra II as an 8th grader and doing well. Don’t pass up this opportunity it is not to late to get into that line! -S.Silk

    “All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.”

    Albert Einstein

  • Melissa wilbanks

    We “camped out” for our kids 18 years ago and the process was better then. We had roll call at 6am and 6pm that’s as mandatory to be there or your name got out at the bottom of the list. That was a much better way to proceed than having parents take off work and brave this ridiculous weather. Don’t regress, go back to the roll call method!

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