Friday marked the last day of operation for the International School of Columbus. Fewer than half the students were in attendance today because many of them have already started attending new schools in the area.
The school board announced plans this week to close the charter school after it failed to raise the $250,000 needed to keep the doors open.
The ISC planned to move to a new location this summer but was denied an occupancy permit because it was unable to pay for necessary renovations.
Teachers and students arrived Friday dressed in costumes for the school’s fall festival. Though they were excited about the day’s activities, many expressed concern about the future.
“The biggest thing on my mind is the welfare of the kids,” says Shawn Bentz, who taught music and history at the school. “I hate to see them leaving here and hearing them talk about how much they love it here. There’s a reason they came here and now that they’re losing that, I’m concerned for what they’re going to be experiencing.”
Students are being absorbed into other local schools, including Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation and Columbus Christian School, but students say nothing compares to the experience at ISC. It is the only school in the area to offer the International Baccalaureate program, a globally recognized curriculum.
“Something I was really looking forward to doing here at the International School was doing the IB,” said Braiden Simmons, a tenth grader at ISC. “That’s something I thought would really help me get into college.”
Staff and students were notified of the school’s possible closure earlier this week. Teachers will face a particularly difficult situation because of the timing of the school’s closure.
“I’m concerned about ourselves, the teachers. Generally the positions we’ll be looking for are filled up this time of year,” says Bentz.
Students and staff described the school as a “family” and say that’s what will be missed the most.
Ben Beach, a seventh grader at ISC, says he is unsure where he will attend school next week.
“All the other schools I’ve been bullied and made fun of. This is the first place where I felt like I belonged and where people actually care about me,” he says. “ I hope some miracle happens between now and Monday.”