Social Rejection Feared In School Redistricting

March 13, 1992|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff writer

When William Johanns was transferred from Glen Burnie schools to themore affluent Severna Park High after district lines were redrawn in1959, it was the beginning of the worst three years of his life, he said.

"I was a social outcast," recalled Johanns, who would have gone to Glen Burnie High. "I wasn't able to live up to those students.I don't want (my daughter) to be subjected to the same rejection I felt 30 years ago and is obviously still continuing."

Johanns and his neighbors in Elvaton Acres, where children attendschools in the Old Mill feeder system, were arguing against a redistricting plan that would send their youngsters to Severna Park.

They complained to the school board Wednesday night of the disruptions in their children's lives and of the slights they feared the students would encounter at a school where many of the youngsters come from higher-income families.

"For 10 years I was involved in the Elvaton Little League," said Linda Marcus. "We played baseball with Severna Park, and we had problem after problem. The two areas are just not compatible."

Parents and students alike said residents of Severna Park look down on them.

School administrators have recommended shifting all Elvaton Acres students into the Severna Park system to eliminate the split feeder system that sends some students to Old Mill and others to Severna Park.

Only graduating seniors from Elvaton Acres would remain at Old Mill under the proposal.

But parents and students argued that Elvaton Acres is closer in proximity and philosophy to the schools in the Old Mill feeder system than those in Severna Park.

"We as parents create continuity for our kids," said Jim Pell, the father of four. "When that continuity is challenged, it really doesn't work. They don't deserve to have to be changed. They don't deserve to have to reinvent themselves."

Theresa Davis complained thather older son would remain at Old Mill with the seniors while her younger son, an eighth-grader, would move to Severna Park.

Meanwhile, Tori Young, a junior at Old Mill, delivered a petition signed by 70students asking to remain in that school system.

Even elected officials got into the act. County Councilmen David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville, and Edward Middlebrooks, D-Severn, asked board members to leave the Elvaton Acres students where they are.

"I feel it's in the best interest of everyone that you let Old Mill stay in the school system of Elvaton," Boschert said.

"I can assure you that Elvaton Acres shares a more common interest with the Old Mill feeder system than with Severna Park," added Middlebrooks.

But board member MaureenCarr-York objected to the suggestions of class discrimination.

"Iwould hate to think that in Anne Arundel county we can only go to school with people just like ourselves," she said. "I understand the feelings, but if anything, we've got to open up the doors. This board is not going to make a decision on the basis of one group of kids (that) doesn't like the other."

The board is expected to vote on the plan next month.

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