Culbertson students likely to adapt well

Friday, March 19, 2004

When you walk through the hallways of Culbertson High School this year, you can feel change is in the air. There's a sense of urgency because, after being in existence for more than 100 years, CHS is preparing to close its doors.

Because of declining attendance, the Culbertson school board voted not to have school in Culbertson for junior-senior high students after the 2003-04 school year ends.

As you might imagine, this is a tough thing for the students to handle. "There's a lot of confusion because their lives are being disrupted," Culbertson Principal Alan Garey said. Even so, Mr. Garey said he is proud of how the students and parents have faced up to the situation, taking special care to make the decisions they feel best fits their needs.

For next year's seventh through 12th grade students, there are three main choices. Culbertson area youngsters can either attend the unified district's high school in Trenton, called Lakeside Central, or they can option into the neighboring high schools in McCook and Hayes Center.

So far -- according to statistics gathered by Jason Frederick of the Hitchcock County News in Trenton -- it appears the junior high and senior high students from Culbertson next year will be going in three different directions.

Forty-four have optioned into the McCook district and 15 into the Hayes Center district. However, the final number of option students may not be that high as four of the students have submitted applications to both districts, and will wait until later to make final decisions.

The remaining 58 percent of the Culbertson student body -- about 85 pupils -- is expected to continue to attend the Hitchcock Unified Schools. Most of these are on the grade school level since Culbertson will continue to have an elementary attendance center. Under the unified plan, Hitchcock County will maintain K-6 grade schools in Stratton and Culbertson, and have a single 7-12 junior-senior high in Trenton.

All together, McCook could have up to 58 option students in 2004-05. This includes the newcomers from Culbertson, as well as option pupils from District 8, District 41, Maywood and the Southwest Public Schools district, formerly Republican Valley and Twin Valley.

Breaking up is hard to do. We know it will be a challenging adjustment for the Culbertson youth, but a welcoming spirit by the Trenton, McCook and Hayes Center schools should ease the transition and offer an opportunity for area-wide cooperation.

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