Students react to drastic plan for Benton Harbor Area Schools

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- A recommendation made by the state of Michigan to close Benton Harbor High School Friday has both students and the community up in arms.

Students said despite the school’s problems, they did not want to see the school close.

Senior De’Aundre Henderson said Benton Harbor High was where he discovered his passion for music.

“I joined the band at the high school and I became a drum major,” Henderson explained. “I learnt how to play piano, trumpet, tuba, drums, everything because there’s just something about what music does to me, it just clicks.”

Having the opportunity to stay after school and play music is one thing Henderson is now concerned other students might not have the chance to do if the recommendation by the state to close the high school in 2020 is approved.

“Most of the students live in this area they don’t have another choice of school to go to. Most of them lack of rides, they have to walk to school, catch the bus and stuff like that so that would be an advantage of being able to go to this school and people love Benton Harbor this is like our landmark,” Henderson said.

If the district does approve the state’s proposal, high school students would be able to attend one of the eight area schools instead and officials said transportation would be provided.

State officials believe closing the school will help the district which is now $16 million in debt. The school board will need to approve the proposal before anything goes into effect.

“We’re going to work very hard with the staff and the student to help support them as the board makes this decision,” Robert Hererra  said, CEO and superintendent of Benton Harbor area schools.

If the school boards denies the proposal officials said the district would dissolve or be converted into a charter system.

Henderson said he wished there was another solution.

“There has to be another solution,” Henderson said. “It’s not just cool to say alright go, y’all go somewhere else. People want to carry on the legacy you know of being a tiger, getting your stripes.”

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