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End of a year & an era at East High

Rochester, N.Y. - The last day of classes at East High was bittersweet for students and teachers as they prepare for big changes next year, when the University of Rochester is expected to take control of the school.

After the final bell rang Monday afternoon, kids walked out of the building knowing that they will begin next year at the same location, but at a very different school.

"I just hope it's not too different because it's been a long journey through this school," said Jonasia Matthews, a junior at East High. "My mom and my dad and my aunts all went here,"

Matthews said he wanted to carry on that legacy and graduate next year, but instead she will start her senior year at a school run by an Educational Partnership Organization, or EPO.

"The school that I come from won't be there no more (sic) --well it will be here but it won't be the same thing. It won't be the same thing we had when we first started," said student Chanell Williams.

East High holds a great deal of history for Rochester. Generations of families have gone to that school and now students say those traditions will be lost along with some of their teachers. Williams said, "We don't know if all the teachers here will be here next year."

If the state approves the EPO with the University of Rochester-- UR's Warner School of Education will, in effect, take over as "Superintendent" of the school, having the authority to change the curriculum, schedule and teaching staff.

Williams said, "It's not the building and the teachers, it's the students--the teachers do all they can do to help but you can't force a student to sit there and be willing to learn if they don't want to learn."

East High teachers met with union representatives after school to discuss the takeover--specifically the hiring and re-hiring process outlined in the U of R's plans for the 2015-16 school year. Emotionally drained from the meeting, teachers declined to go on camera but said there is a lot of confusion surrounding the EPO and there hasn't been a lot of communication between the school district, the university and the teacher's association.

With low attendance and graduation rates-- teachers said East High needs to change to overcome its challenges-- they just hope they don't get squeezed out of the school in the process.

To create a new East High, teachers argued it needs to be a collaborative effort between students, parents, professors and teachers so they can all learn from one another and so far, that hasn't happened.


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Washington Times