Cruse is one of several students struggling to decide whether to stay at their current high school or transfer with their younger siblings who have been rezoned to attend Coahulla Creek High School, which opens this fall.
Current high school freshmen, like Cruse’s sister, Bayli, will attend Coahulla Creek next year if they’re in the district for North Whitfield Middle School. However, next year’s juniors and seniors, such as Jake, can decide whether to stay at their zoned school or transfer to Coahulla Creek. The new high school will not have a varsity football team its first year.
“Y’all are making me choose between Bruin football or my sister,” said Cruse. “Thank you for the invitation to attend the new school, but it took me forever to earn this (Bruins football) jacket.”
Several parents and students asked board members on Monday to change the policy that determines which students go to the new school next year, saying it would interfere with their sports ties, send students in the same home to different schools, strain friendships they’d formed at Northwest or simply because they “bleed blue and orange.”
Chairman Louis Fordham said board members continue to discuss the policy and last year’s decision to zone high school enrollment by middle school enrollment. Only students in the district for North Whitfield Middle School will attend Coahulla Creek.
Officials estimate they’ll have about 275 freshmen and 275 sophomores at Coahulla Creek when it opens. A couple dozen rising juniors and rising seniors have indicated they would like to transfer there.
Parent Jason Reynolds said he plans to move so his son, who competes in wrestling, can stay at Northwest.
“They’re not going to bully me into going to this new school,” he said.
By state law, all Whitfield County students are allowed to transfer to an out-of-zone school as long as there is enough room in the school and they provide their own transportation.
While most high school transfers will come from Northwest Whitfield, about 70 current freshmen at Southeast High will be mandated to attend Coahulla Creek. Parent Susan Moore said that while she doesn’t have any children at Southeast, she’s concerned about a friend whose daughter was told only on Friday she would become a Coahulla Creek student next year.
Moore said the students were called aside during the school day and told they would have to attend a meeting at North Whitfield Middle this morning to learn more about their new high school and register for classes.
“These students were pretty upset when that happened,” Moore said. “I feel like in all honesty that was pretty traumatic for these kids.”
Superintendent Danny Hayes said he was unaware there were plans to bus Southeast students to the North Whitfield Middle meetings.