November 1, 2014
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Kudos to the Annex

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter on behalf of all the teachers, co-workers and staff, as well as the students at the Annex.

I will start off by letting everyone know that I am the proud mother of Frank Bianchi. Frankie started off at Johnston Senior High School in the ninth grade. Frankie was not doing well at all; he was failing, did not want to go to school, and pretty much was contemplating dropping out of school. Frankie has an IEP, but that does not mean that he is not "smart," it just means that he needs a little extra help with some things.

Frankie was diagnosed with ADD and ADHD. He was not able to concentrate in the classrooms at school, which held 20 to 30 students in it. Halfway through the school year he was offered to go to the Annex. Frankie interviewed for this, in front of the teachers, and was accepted to the Annex. Frankie went there halfway through the year. When Frankie went to the Annex he excelled. He was willing to go to school. He was doing his work. He was getting good grades at school. He actually liked school, as before he hated it.

I can tell you that these kids deserved to graduate and the teachers deserve to get some recognition. They did not just go to school to learn, they went to school so that they can learn how to succeed in the world as young adults. Many of you may not know that these kids woke up early on a weekend to walk for breast cancer. They also had a car wash to raise money for breast cancer. They were taught respect, responsibility, as well as earning their degree. I will tell you that if these kids did not want to get their degree they would never have walked on that stage and received one. The teachers were there to make sure that the students that wanted to succeed did. The teachers at the Annex do not get the acknowledgment that they deserve.

Example: On June 8 they held awards night at the high school. There was only one award that was given out to the students at the Annex, and that was outstanding student. My son, as well as one of the female students, received this award. I sat at awards night disgusted and very upset. They announced who was representing them on stage, and Dr. Barboza, who is the principal at the Annex, was not recognized until they realized it halfway through. There was one kid there from the Annex and that happened to be my son. He did get outstanding student at the Annex, however, the principal at the high school asked him if he even goes to school there. I watched as all these students, who don't get me wrong deserve the awards, walked up on stage and received them, while my son was the only one there to represent Annex because they only had one award to give out. I am truly upset at the fact that if you look in the yearbook, my son and my nephew are listed as juniors. My son walked on stage to receive his diploma, as well as my nephew. However, they are listed as juniors in the book.

I cannot change what happened in the past, but I sure hope that I can change the future. I believe that the Annex should stay. These kids should not be in the high school as they will get lost, and when the get lost they tend to drop out. Johnston High School does not want to be responsible for the fact that students drop out because they do not have the resources to help these kids that need help. I do feel that these kids should get recognition just like the other students. Outstanding student award is one award compared to three hours of awards, as well as scholarships that were handed out, and only two kids got an award from Annex.

What about scholarships? My son was accepted to New England Institute of Technology and others plan on going to college; where are their scholarships? Where is their recognition of what they have accomplished? Nothing, they don't count.

The teachers are a big part of their accomplishments, but where is their recognition? Oh yeah, that’s right, they don't get that. These teachers have to deal with kids that have problems and they get frustrated on a daily basis, but you know that they are there. These teachers have been there throughout the three years of my son's education and I owe a lot to these teachers. I have come to respect these teachers, as well as have a new understanding of what they do and how they have helped kids succeed. Walking on stage that night was not only a great accomplishment for the students, but it was a great accomplishment for the teachers. If it was not for the teachers and the Annex, these kids would have failed, dropped out and not have been able to walk when their name was called to get their diploma just like every other student that was there on June 10.

I would like to say that as one parent, or probably as all the parents of the children at the Annex, do not close this program. As for my experience with my son, he would not have been on stage that night. My son's diploma is a great thing for me, his dad, himself, but mostly for the teachers that have been there to support him throughout his time at the Annex. Before you go and make a rash decision, think to yourself: if my child needed help, if the high school does not offer this help, but the Annex does, wouldn't you want them to still be there for your kids, your grandkids, nieces, nephews, or just any one of your loved ones?

I beg of you, for the future students that need help, do not close the annex school or program.

Angela Bianchi

Johnston


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