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Westside High teacher advocates for students

Westside High teacher advocates for students

  • PublishedJune 19, 2024

A Westside High teacher stressed the importance of keeping her school open and asked the district to provide resources for non-English speaking students and parents.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Students from Westside High School Air Force Junior ROTC program were vocal at Tuesday’s DCPS public forum meeting about why they want their school to stay open. 

Two Westside High cadets came Tuesday to speak up for their school. 

“Westside is a family,” said Lummie Calhoun, a Westside High School junior. “ROTC is a family and disrupting that would just disperse the whole family that we have.”

“The teachers, the principal and all that. They helped me evolve and it’s kind of like a family. I don’t want to be broken up. Outside of school, we are still a family. It’s not just an in school thing,” he said. 

“I know ROTC will help students in that school become a better person,” said Brandon Moreno-Figueroa, a Westside High senior.

Their colonel, Stan Smith, backed his cadets and spoke up for Westside, a school he’s been at for 20 years.

“I wanted to fight for my students, because I would hate for anything to happen to the program,”  Smith said.

Caitlin Murphy is a Westside High ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher who was advocating for a group of students and parents she feels don’t have a voice.

“Do what’s right for all of the kids in Duval County, including the ones who don’t speak English,” she said.

Murphy spoke for her non-English speaking students at Tuesday’s meeting.

“It’s a a massive population at Westside, 20% of our kids are ESOL, but an even larger population of that are parents of whom English is not their first language,” said Murphy.

Murphy believes more resources should be accessible to non-English speaking parents. 

Because all of this information has been put out in English I think that’s a bigger reason why there’s not as many Westside parents,” she said.

“I think the district needs to put things out in two languages I think the district also needs to provide opportunities for maybe having a translator at the meetings or allow parents to write something and submit it in their language,” said Murphy.

DCPS will be holding its last public forum meeting on Thursday, June 20 at 5:30 p.m. at Terry Parker High School. 

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