Penderlea families worried about losing community school
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WILLARD, NC (WWAY) -- Changes could be coming for a Pender County School, and many families affected are not happy. Those families say moving sixth through eighth grades out of Penderlea School is a bad idea.

"This is the heartbeat of Penderlea," parent Toni Giddeons said.

For Giddeons, Penderlea is more than just a school. It is a family.

"We wanted the two youngest ones to have that experience," she said. "Madison was adopted at a year old, and the teachers here were instrumental in helping us get her. They signed all kinds of forms and letters. How many other teachers can speak on the character of their parents and their household?"

The Pender County School Board wants to split the school, which currently has grades kindergarten through eighth grades. After fifth grade, the students would be divided between West Pender Middle School and Burgaw Middle School.

Penderlea School librarian Angela Perry says the argument for the change is a claim that small middle schools do not prepare the students well enough.

"Yes, we're small, but we're willing to fight to keep it," Giddeons said. "Whatever we need to do."

Several parents, teachers and county commissioners have tried asking the school board for more reasoning, but they have not gotten any answers. They think this decision could lead to worse things.

"It's just the beginning of the end," former student Jewell Horton said. "We've seen other community schools slowly get phased out throughout the county. I truly do believe in my heart that if we do lose the middle school kids, it won't be long before we lose the whole school."

We tried reaching out to Pender County School leaders, but no one has not returned our calls.

Parents and teachers plan to rally outside the school board's meeting at the Pender Resource Center tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. to try to convince them to change their decision.

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I have 5 grandchildren 4 of them are at Penderlea. If this change takes place 3 of those 4 will go to other schools. They will be bussed around Pender county.

I live 3 blocks from the school and they are now going to be on a school bus for hours everyday. My 13 year old grandson is in a wheelchair. I don't know about you but I do believe that would be cruel and unusual punishment for any child.

I have emailed the BOE members. I received a phone call that had all kind of excuses about what they are doing. I asked for someone to sit down and talk to me. But they will not. That was the end of anyone talking to me.

I would like to inform you on how I found out what they are doing. 3 days before school was to get out. My 13 year old grandson had a letter put into his book bag. The same grandson that is in a wheelchair.

Now I would like to tell you about us.
I have 5 grandchildren that live with me. At one time all 5 went to Penderlea School. My 16 year old Granddaughter was mainstreamed to High school. That was the right thing to do because she is doing great. I have a 10 year old that did not talk when she went to Penderlea 2 years ago. Now she talks to all her teachers and friends. 8 year old is a wild child. But if he needs anything as a family they go to his aid. 13 Year old a paraplegic with IDD, ID and MR. He also has Cerebral Palsy. Epilepsy Seizures and he is blind. Asthma and an eating disorder when not done correctly he gets very sick with Aspiration Pneumonia. He ends up in the hospital.

In 2012 when I was MADE to send my 13 year old to Penderlea. He was in the hospital 2 times in the first 5 months he begun having seizures daily. Had to have daily breathing treatments for his asthma. He cried all the time.

Penderlea has made a big change in the children because everyone knows everyone. It is truly a family not matter what you or your child needs there is someone there to help.

I believe that our school is one of the best in the area. I sent 3 kids there and now my grandchildren.

I Have a daughter that is a CSM at Walmart and has been there for 18 years. 1 Son has his own construction business. 1 Son that has a business with heating and air.

I just want everyone to help us keep our school.
Thank You

Somewhere along the way the school board has forgotten that they are there to do what the public wants and is what's best for the children. They are not there to do what they wish and neglect what the public wants. Penderlea has been over looked over and over always because other parts of the county are priority, it's time that Penderlea is the priority. Nobody in this area wants the school split, please do not tear our school apart only to benefit other parts of the county