AUBURN — When Sierra Luke, 15, was at Edward Little High School earlier this year, “it was pretty overwhelming,” she said.

Now a student at Franklin, the city’s alternative school, Luke is opposed to moving Franklin into Edward Little High School when the new school opens in 2023.

During an interview with a group of Franklin students, all five said they are opposed to the move. A big reason for their success, they said, is because Franklin is separate from the big school.

Franklin School, on High Street, has 65 high school students and 14 middle school students. Whether it should become part of the new school on Harris Street will be decided by the Auburn School Committee when it meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Council Chambers at Auburn Hall.

Superintendent Katy Grondin has proposed the move, saying if Franklin becomes part of the big high school it could be designed as a little school in a big school,  with a separate entrance and parking lot.

Grondin said Franklin students now do not have access to extra programs and resources that other high school students do.

However, that is not convincing Franklin students.

At the big school, “I struggled with anxiety and depression,” Luke said.

It took a lot of energy for her to get through the day “with people who seemed like they didn’t care because of the large number of students.”

She had anxiety attacks in the bathroom. She tried to avoid going to school.

“My grades were slipping,” she said. “Part of the whole reason Franklin is so beneficial is because it is an escape, a fresh start. You can turn a new page and take control of who you want to be. I want it to stay here.”

Gabryele Jordan, a senior, said, “Franklin saved my life. I was having a hard time in ninth grade at Edward Little. It was hard to get through the day. I’d try any way to go home early. It was mentally draining.”

She felt as though other students gave her dirty looks, said mean things “and no one wanted to help me. Here, I’m doing a lot better.”

After she graduates, she plans to serve in AmeriCorps, then go to college.

Adryana Hutchinson, a senior, came to Franklin in the seventh grade because, she said, she wasn’t being treated well at Auburn Middle School.

“Franklin is a safe school, a small environment,” she said. “That’s what I needed for my success.”

She understands Grondin’s concern that Franklin students don’t have access to extra activities and programs. Hutchinson said there’s no calculus class at Franklin, a course she’d like to take. On her own she’s taken advanced math courses. Even so, she’s opposed to moving the school.

“The sheer number of students at EL creates a lot of stress and anxiety,” she said. “Keeping up with grades, your social life, home life, it can be taxing to some students. Sometimes teachers don’t recognize the stressors.”

Grondin said she understands student concerns.

“This is not an easy decision,” she said. “There are pros and cons. The con to them moving is they won’t have their own location, their own space away from high school.

“But the other side is that they would have access to a new facility and resources that are important, like the health center, the guidance services, programming, chorus, phys ed.”

Leaving Franklin where it is now is an option, Grondin said, but Franklin has needs.

For instance, Franklin has asked for more guidance service. With the new school in the planning stages, now is the time to think about whether Franklin’s program could be improved. “That’s the decision,” Grondin said.

Another Franklin student, Charlie Ballard, pointed out that under proposal, there is no alternative school plan for middle school students, and that attending Franklin as a middle school student makes a big difference for some.

Responding to that, Grondin said if Franklin moves into Edward Little, “we will work with the Auburn Middle School to address the needs of middle school students who attend Franklin.”

Current middle school Franklin students would not be affected, Grondin said.

“Probably the year before opening, Franklin would not enroll seventh-graders.”

Franklin School students, from left , Sierra Luke, Adryana Hutchinson and Gabryele Jordan say they are opposed to a plan to move Franklin to a new Edward Little High School. (Sun Journal photo by Bonnie Washuk) 


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