It's not bad for the sixth graders because at least they would have a fresh start. But for us, it means four different schools in four years," groaned seventh grader Kenny Bloom, assessing the impact on 800 other 12-year-olds of closing three Montgomery County schools.
Argyle Junior High in Silver Spring, Leland Junior High in Chevy Chase and Edwin W. Broome Middle in Rockville are the schools Superintendent Edward Andrews had recommended shutting down this June because of Montgomery County's declining student enrollment.
During the next five years, Broome will fall under the 600-student minimum enrollment for a three-grade middle school and Argyle will have fewer than the 500-student minimum for a two-grade school. Leland would need $2 to $3 million worth of renovations, school officials said. Closing all three, they said, would reduce the fiscal 1982 bugett by an estimated $1 million.
Inevitably, Andrews' announcement angered parents who promptly began organizing protests for forthcoming public hearings to be held by the school board. But the students -- the people most directly affected by closings -- were not measuring the news in terms of programs or tax dollars or enrollment. First on their minds were the problems of meeting new teachers, making new friends and riding a bus instead of walking to school.
"We'll have to go through orientation all over again," sighed Andrew Thomason, Leland seventh grader who will go to Western Junior High School if the Board of Education votes to close Leland in June. "And kids in a school, as soon as they see somebody new, they're kind of snobbish."
"I was wondering if Lee students will say things to us," said Bloom, who would be bused to E. Brooke Lee, Argyle's rival in sports. "Do you know why they're closing Argyle? I was just beginning to like this school."
The news spread quickly and was the talk of the day in the three schools, where students reacted with anxiety and excitement.
Bloom and five other seventh graders rallied quickly on the morning of the announcement and by early afternoon solemnly presented their school principal, Lewis A. Jones, with a sheaf of papers titled "Petition Not to Close Argyle." Those who signed the petition also wrote their comments.
"It won't be good leaving our school after we've learned our way around and know how everything works," wrote Stephanie Kasmer. "I want Argyle to stay . . . Grownups might not understand but we as the students are the ones who would be hurt."
Or, from Jeff Greenberg: "I don't want to go to four schools in four years."
Students who are in the seventh grade this year would do the most hopscotching among schools. They would go to a new junior high for eighth grade and then to high school. That means most students, in four years, would have attended one elementary school, two junior highs and a senior high.
In most cases, changing schools will mean taking longer to get to school.
"It means I have to go farther out and make new friends. Right now, I was just getting adjusted," said Argyle student Michael Hacckney, 13.
"It takes a lot of getting used to. You're usually not liked by the kids at the school," said Geneva Clark, 12, a Leland student who has been to five different schools in her short educational career, a result of both family moves and school closings.
"I never get to know anybody well. I don't have friends to walk down the street with. Everything seems to pass me by . . . I like people but I don't like getting too close to them because they drop out of your life."
For Buzzy Cohn, an Argyle seventh grader, a change would mean he wouldn't be able to walk to school early, as he usually does, to use the library.
Students at Edwin W. Broome would be split up, some sent to Julius West Middle School and others to Earle B. Wood Junior High School.
Robbie Carter, 13, lives in the area that would be assigned to West. "All my friends are going to Wood," she moaned.
Public hearings on the proposed closings will be held May 5 and 7 at the Educational Services Center in Rockville. The Board of Education is scheduled to vote on May 12. Montgomery County's Used-to-Be Schools SILVER SPRING INTERMEDIATE Closed July 1973
Majority of building demolished; gym retained and used by Recreation Department and Montgomery College. CLARA BARTON Closed July 1974
Curently used by MCPS Title I staff; Special Education portion leased for Post Office. ALTA VISTA Closed July 1976 Leased to Town and Country Day School. BUSHEY DRIVE Closed July 1976
Administrative offices for Recreation Department; Street 70 Program; and 1-2 rooms for elder citizens use. DENNIS AVENUE Closed July 1976
Retained by MCPS 1976-77 as a Supplementary Education Center that was moved September 1977 to McKenney Hills. County plans to house Twinbrook Medical Center in Dennis Avenue. MacDONALD KNOLLS Closed July 1976
Leased to Centers for the Handicapped (Youth Program) and the Association for Retarded Citizens. MONTGOMERY HILLS JUNIOR Closed July 1976
Leased to Hebrew Academy. PARKSIDE Closed July 1976
Administrative offices for Park and Planning; four classrooms in lower level leased to Accorn Day Nursery. SANDBURG Closed July 1977
Supplementary Education Center and Rockville Day Care Center. SPRING MILL Closed July 1976
Used during 1976-77 to house Longview students; now houses administrative Area 2 staff. BURNT MILLS Closed July 1977
Subleased to Alexander School (private). COLESVILLE Closed July 1977
Decision pending for use by Area Recreation Office; Northeast Health Clinic; day care and other small users. FERNWOOD Closed July 1977
Subleased to Our Lady of the Woods (private school). GLENMONT Closed July 1977
Unoccupied pending decision for reuse; probably will be leased for private college; old building will be torn down and remainder modernized. HILLANDALE Closed July 1977
Subleased to Centers for the Handicapped adult program. McKENNEY HILLS Closed July 1977
To house supplementary Learning Center formerly at Dennis Avenue. PARK STREET Closed July 1977
The house various county functions: Office of Human Resources, Architectural Services, Criminal Justice office, Finance, Facilities Management, and a day care center. WHITTIER WOODS Closed July 1977
To be renovated for Area 1 administrative staff -- approximately 50 percent of building will be used for area office; rest of building not assigned. ASPEN HILL Closed July 1978
Leased to Frost School (private disability school); portions of the school to be subleased. HOLIDAY PARK Closed July 1978
To house Senior Citizen Center and Division of Elder Affairs staff. MARYVALE Closed July 1978
Vacant. TUCKERMAN Closed July 1978
Used to house Area 3 administrative offices and Department of Adult Education; remainder is being leased by MCPS to McLean School. WOODLEY GARDENS Closed July 1978
Unknown. To be transferred to county in July 1981. KENSINGTON JUNIOR HIGH Closed July 1979
In 1979-1981, held by MCPS pending study of Leland/Kensington. Portions rented by MCPS to various groups. EDWARD U. TAYLOR Closed July 1979
To house supplementary learning center. ENGLISH MANOR Closed July 1980
Probably will be leased to private sector. GROSVENOR Closed July 1980
Probably will be leased to private sector. LARCHMONT Closed July 1980
Probably will be used by county. NORTH BETHESDA JUNIOR HIGH Closing July 1981
Probably will be leased to private sector. NORTH LAKE Closing July 1981
Tenants will be sought for 1981-1982. Will house Gaithersburg Elementary School students 1982-1984 while that school is being renovated. RANDOLPH JUNIOR HIGH Closed July 1980
Joint tenants during FY 1981; thereafter used to house Wheaton High students while that school is being renovated.