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Students and alums fight to save school

March 19, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

Lawmakers tour Pa. school facing possible closure

SCOTLAND, Pa. -- On the walls of the Scotland School for Veterans Children, the posters splayed in rainbow paint cry out for help.

"Save our school!"

"Don't balance the budget on the back of children!"

For the children behind the classroom doors, the green and orange words are their voice in the fight to save their school from closing.

The school is much more than a house of learning for the students whose pleas pepper the halls.

It is a home away from home, alumnus Isiah Anderson said.

"I spent the better part of my life at Scotland School," he said.

Terrance Williams is one of the students actively fighting to keep his school open.

"Have you ever had to fight for something you really loved?" he wrote in an essay. "I have. In fact I currently am. I'm fighting to keep a school open."

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Scotland School is not an ordinary school, Terrance said. It is a home, a learning facility and a place where students are given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve success.

"About 87 percent of children who go to public schools or even private schools wind up just being a fast food worker or don't go anywhere," he wrote. "Scotland gives us the chance to become world leaders."

Anderson credits his success as an Army officer and founder of a charter school to the education he received at the Scotland School.

"I wish I could tell you differently, but there is absolutely no way I would be where I am doing what I do if I had gone to a different school," Anderson said.

The Scotland School uses a highly structured atmosphere to teach the children leadership and followship for the future, Anderson said.

That structure is what gave Anderson a platform for starting his own charter school.

As an educator, veteran and alumnus of the school, Anderson said he harbors deep concerns about closing the school to save money.

Closing the school now would have a ripple effect into the communities forced to absorb the nearly 300 students, he said.

"I operate a charter school, I believe in school choice, but unfortunately, full school choice does not exist," he said. "If they close this school, they would be sending these children back to failing schools, putting a drain on schools that are already in trouble."

Like many of the students at the Scotland School, Anderson is from Philadelphia, but he said he grew up at the school.

"To take that connection away from me, is personal," he said. "This hits really close to home for me."

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