To the editor:
Many of us have been following the coverage regarding the fate of BRIDGE Alternative High School. It is unfortunate that during times of financial trouble, at-risk youth are the ones who are expected to shoulder the weight of the hardship. For some students, BRIDGE could be the main or only source of stability in their lives.
For others, it may be the only school they can attend without being bullied or harassed. Other students are trying to work or raise a child; they need the flexibility that BRIDGE offers. Even young people who are not considered at-risk attend BRIDGE because they have different learning styles and their educational needs are better met by the alternative school.
As a Continuum of Care body, our goal is to end homelessness. We strive to identify and fill the gaps in support services effectively. If BRIDGE closes, our CoC will lose a powerful tool in our fight against homelessness and poverty. Our community will lose a place for youth to be prepared for the workforce and the world.
But these losses pale in comparison to what some local youth will lose - their future. This is not limited to those who are currently enrolled in the school; consider additionally the future students who will drop out because the alternative is no longer available. Surely our community is not one that aims to save money at the expense of those who are most in need.
It is understandable that school districts and the public would be wary of taking on a school that has seen financial hardship when all budgets are tight as it is. However, we cannot forget that we are a community. The youth, parents, teachers and volunteers involved with BRIDGE are our friends and neighbors. We need to support our friends and neighbors and stand beside them. We need to make sure that every student - regardless of learning style, family, or housing issues - has a safe place to learn how to become an effective adult. That is why the Baraga/Houghton/Keweenaw CoC hopes to see more people become involved in keeping BRIDGE open. Also, we hope the local school districts do everything in their power to provide all students an opportunity to thrive in our community.
Child and Family Services of the
Upper Peninsula, Inc