“We wanted to bring the community together so we can gather important factual information that we could take to the Walker County Board of Education on April 3 to state why our school should remain open,” Parrish Mayor Cedric Ramsey said. “We’re not going down without a fight, and we want to make sure our community representatives have the evidence they need on paper to present to the board, who will be responsible for making the ultimate decision on whether or not they will be closing Parrish High School.”
Some of the concerns raised during the meeting by those who spoke included:
•lack of enforcement of school districts
•transportation and safety issues involving busing students to other schools in the event the school is closed
•drop-out rates following a school closure
•social-economic effects to the students
•facts and figures on how the school being closed would affect the community
•cost to operate the school on a yearly basis
•test scores/success stories of former and current students.
Parrish Police and School Resource Officer Steve Yarbrough, who also serves as the pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Parrish, said the church, school and local government are the pillars of every household in a community and, in his opinion, closing Parrish High School would be a great social-economic injustice.
“I work in the community as well, but we haven’t had any real incidences at the school, regardless of what you might have heard on the street or elsewhere, since I’ve been serving as the SRO at Parrish,” Yarbrough said. “As a pastor, I’m responsible for families, and I think the closing of Parrish High School will make obtaining an education and employment extremely difficult not only in this community, but other communities throughout the Walker County area.”
Several students also stood up and voiced their opinions to those gathered at Thursday’s meeting.
“We love our school, and we’re going to do whatever we can to try and keep it open because we believe Parrish can be even greater,” senior Josiah Robinson said. “If the time, money and resources that will be invested in sending our students to other schools is invested in Parrish instead, then it would become a powerhouse not only in sports, but academics as well.”
Before the meeting adjourned, the crowd that was gathered decided to meet two more times —March 27 at 6 p.m. and April 1 at 6 p.m. — and appointed Robinson and former student Andrew Wright to serve as representatives of the Parrish community at the open board of education meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 3, to address public concerns regarding the possible closure of the schools.