“Why should we have to move? We didn’t ask to move. [BPS] doesn’t seem to have a problem impacting our school. I mean what reasonable parent would want to hurt their kid this way,” said Beth Nola of Roslindale whose son Jack is an 8th grader at the BLA.
Many parents and students expressed frustration with BPS’ decision in July to relocate the school from its home of nearly 20 years in Dorchester and move its 1,700 students to the shuttered Hyde Park High School in Hyde Park.
BPS says that the facility's classrooms can be reconfigured to fit more students, but some parents and students worried that the smaller school could stifle the academy’s expansion and ability to reach as many students as possible.
“I’ve been here six years and even though this building may have problems it’s suitable for us. Hyde Park won’t work for the BLA,” said Beshaunn Jay, a Dorchester resident and senior at BLA.
Others such as Daniel Smelansky, a 9th grader at BLA and one of the organizers of Tuesday’s rally, worried about how the move could affect his school along with his commute from Brighton.
“This is our home. We are not going to move to Hyde Park because it’s simply not good for us. They promised renovations but it seems like they just threw it together…it feels like empty promises,” he said.
If the school does move, Smelansky said it would take him about two hours for him to commute to the new campus. Because of the school's earlier schedule he estimated he would have to wake up at 4:15 a.m. to make it to school on time.
The students and supporters were also joined by State Representative Carlos Henriquez, an alumnus of BLA.
“This is the building I graduated from, this is where my coming of age was and I wanted to make sure to lend my support to the parents, teachers and students who have put so much into this school,” said Henriquez.
The BLA is one of the Boston Public Schools' premier 7 -12 grade schools, boasting some of the highest MCAS scores in the state. To attend the school, which opened as an all-girls school in 1878, students must pass an entrance exam.
If the school moves to Hyde Park it would be the seventh location for the school. Prior to the Dorchester campus the school was located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston.