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Fenway High students blast Boston Public Schools plan to move their school

Fenway High School students and faculty last night panned the superintendent’s proposal to move the school to a building in Mission Hill, arguing that the plan will destroy the character of the high-performing institution.

“Those relationships that we have between [our classmates] will be gone,” said Fenway High junior Shante Golding, 17, during the public comment period of last night’s School Committee meeting, which drew about 300 people, most of whom appeared to be firmly opposed to the plan.

Last week, Boston Public Schools unveiled a proposal to move Fenway High and other schools to new locations in the fall. Superintendent Carol R. Johnson called it an effort to increase access to the schools, which are coveted by parents who believe their children will get a better education at them.


Under the plan, Fenway High would move from its current location on Ipswich St. to the building that currently houses Mission Hill K-8 and New Mission High School. Those schools would move to shuttered school buildings in Jamaica Plain and Hyde Park, respectively.

More than 100 students, parents, and teachers marched from Fenway High to the School Committee chambers last night, carrying signs that read “Keep Fenway in Fenway” and wearing shirts that said “Defend Fenway High School.”

The Fenway contingent, along with the other attendees at the meeting, cheered loudly when critics of the plan addressed Johnson and the committee.

Fenway High humanities teacher Jessie Lorte received a standing ovation after saying that the Mission Hill building lacks an auditorium, an adequate library, or a large enough cafeteria to accommodate Fenway High students.

“This move defies logic,” she said. “The proposed building cannot meet our current programming needs -- the programming that has earned us excellence.”

Parents of Mission Hill K-8 students raised concerns about the air quality and other issues surrounding their school’s proposed new home, the shuttered Agassiz Elementary School in Jamaica Plain.


“I feel duped and frustrated,” said Nancy Sadecki, 35, of Mission Hill, the mother of a child enrolled in Mission Hill K-8.

In releasing the plan last week, the School Department said that more than 100 students are currently on the waiting list for the schools affected by the plan.

Fenway High students said last night that the proposal, which would boost enrollment at the school from 322 to 440 students, would damage partnerships the school has with colleges, nonprofits, and cultural institutions in the neighborhood and also harm the sense of community instilled in a small student body.

“You cannot replicate the culture of this school,” said Fenway senior Michael Vallejo, 19.

Under the plan, officials said, Fenway High, which currently shares a building with Boston Arts Academy, would have its own building, more space for programming, and remain close to community partners including Emmanuel College and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Renovations to the proposed new building are also underway, officials said.

The New Mission High School and Boston Community Leadership Academy would move to the Hyde Park Education Complex, which closed in June.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority, which helped fund renovations to the complex, has warned the School Department that it could seek to recoup millions of dollars if the Hyde Park facility and other buildings remain closed.

While most speakers voiced opposition to the plan last night, parents and students at Boston Arts Academy, a visual and performing arts high school, said they supported the proposal, which would give them much-needed additional space.


Senior Althea Bennett, 17, said that while she does not want to “kick out” the Fenway students, “We want to expand. We need to expand.”

Matthew Wilder, a spokesman for Boston Public Schools, said that school department administrators are “very much committed to ensuring that many of those issues can be addressed.”

The School Committee is scheduled to vote on the proposal on Nov. 15.

Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.