The motto of West Woods Academy is "Everyone is the architect of his or her own fortune". If West Woods Academy is closed and the alternative education program is eliminated, there will be many unfortunate students for years to come.
The closure of West Woods would be a huge mistake affecting the entire Bristol community. I have two phrases to put to the board - 1) "Leave well enough alone" and 2) "If it isn't broke, don't fix it". In other words leave West Woods Academy alone; the Academy doesn't need to be fixed or terminated.
In 1980 Bristol educators saw the need for an alternative program for students who were failing or becoming frustrated with the large high school setting or even dropping out of high school. The idea of a small, personalized and structured program for struggling and unmotivated students has worked. In the Academy's 25 years, 56% have gone onto post secondary education, 11% to technical careers and 4% to the military. Two students have gone onto receive their MBA's and two received doctorates. This would not have happened in the traditional high school setting for these students.
I have my own personal reason to see West Woods continue now and in the future. I have a son at West Woods and it has been the best substance for his education. He is doing better, enjoys his classes, classmates and teachers and grasps his "real life" learning experiences.
If Mayor Art Ward and the Board of Finance, School Board and Administrators close the alternative education program, the 50 or so students at West Woods would either have to go back to Eastern or Central high school where they couldn't cope or would drop out of school. In my opinion the administration has no right to deny a student an education ever! The failure of these students would be completely on the conscience of Mayor Art Ward, the Board of Finance and School Administrators.
One final thought: a West Wood current student who was a chronic truant sums up his experiences; "In the past two and a half years since I came to West Woods Academy I find school fun and I actually want to be here every day. The teachers here are really nice and help me out a lot more. I came here because the regular high school wasn't working for me and I never wanted to be there. This will be my second year of perfect attendance and I look forward to school every day. They make me feel welcome. I improved so much I made up all my credits. This is the school for me."
I strongly urge Mayor Art Ward, Board of Finance and School Administrators to realize the value and worth of West Woods Academy and the alternative education program to its students, faculty and the City of Bristol. Keeping West Woods open will be beneficial to the students, their families and the entire Bristol community now and in the future.
Feel free to contact me on this very important issue. Thank you for your consideration.