On May 24, 2017

Don’t close Black River School

Dear Editor,

It takes a community to raise a child. Ludlow has been that community for generations.

When my daughter began thinking about high school, Black River was her first choice even though we live in Springfield. Black River is a school that her grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have attended. She visited for a day, and was warmly welcomed by students, teachers, and administrative staff. She is often very quiet, but on our ride home after that visit, I heard about all of the wonderful things she saw, heard, and experienced in her one day at Black River, and her choice was made. Over the summer, she played summer soccer and quickly made lasting friendships that would make her first day as a freshman in a new school less scary. The transition that we worried about was seamless. She was accepted immediately.

Black River is a school rich in heritage. Graduates have succeeded academically and have enjoyed great success in athletics as well. I was amazed when I attended my first Invitational Soccer Tournament this fall. The community was there. It wasn’t just grandparents, parents, and siblings. It was school board members, town officials, business owners and residents that didn’t even have children participating. The stands and sidelines were full. It was a community supporting their local school.

If Black River High School and Middle School close, and children attend Mill River, that sense of community will be lost. Many children will not be able to participate in sports or after school activities merely because of the distance to their new school. Students may not be able to hold jobs in local businesses. Young families may decide to move closer to Rutland. New families may not consider moving to the Ludlow/Mt. Holly area at all, due to a lack of local high school. These are just a few of the adverse effects of closing the school.

The cost of educating youth in Vermont is high statewide. It will be high whether they are in a local high school or in one over 20 miles away. I think you need to also look at the cost to your community if there is no longer a high school and middle school in Ludlow. That cost may not be seen immediately, but the loss of community will resonate loudly for decades to come.

Kathy Benson, Springfield

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