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Deja vu all over again for JFK

by Michele Catahay

Guam - It's the same situation all over again for the John F. Kennedy High School community as officials are trying to figure out where students will go for next school year. A meeting is currently being held at this hour with stakeholders, but school officials need to determine whether students will remain at the Tiyan campus or be switched over to other high schools on island.

"This is a state of emergency," decried Ken Chargualaf.  "John F. Kennedy has been out for going on three years. We are now operating in a state of emergency and we want our island leaders to really help us."  The JFK principal says the exit task force committee has been reactivated by the superintendent to come up with options to house JFK students come next year. Letters were sent out to stakeholders announcing a meeting that will unveil several options to be considered.

Chargualaf says in light of the ongoing protest at the Office of Public Accountability and the litigation that may be held up in court, talks need to begin soon. One option would be to stay at the Tiyan campus. Another option would be to move students into other campuses on island.

He said, "The second option would be to go back to George Washington or doubling with one of the other high schools. That's another option. Another option we're looking at is whether we want to divide our students among the four other public schools. 9th grade in one school, 10th grade in another high school and 11th grade in another high school."

Chargualaf is hoping tonight's meeting will allow stakeholders to propose their own options for School Year 2010-2011. Time is running out because they have until next month to inform CoreTech International whether they'll be situated at the campus once again.

"Sometime in January, we need to provide CoreTech that we would need to remain here at the Tiyan campus at JFK or do we want to explore other options," said Chargualaf.

In the meantime, JFK teacher Thomas Harper says he's hoping for some movement. When it comes to which option he opposed, he says he wouldn't want students to transfer to different schools nor does he want double sessions next year. Instead, he'd like to stay at Tiyan at least for a semester.

"Of the options, GW was not really a good option," he expressed.  "It was very hard to do and we weren't made to feel welcomed. It was tough for the students; it was tough for the teachers. This is the best of the options that I've seen so far."

Overall, Harper says the JFK community cannot do this alone, adding that lawmakers and the governor need to provide assistance to ensure their campus is built soon, saying, "You don't need to point fingers. It doesn't matter whose fault it was. Whether it was DOE's fault, or the Legislature. It doesn't matter. What matters are the kids."

The meeting is currently being held at the DOE Conference Room in Hagatna.

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