DANVILLE, Va. – Three students from Galileo High School say they want the school to move to the Langston High School campus, which currently serves as the city's alternative school.
"I want to advance the type of classes we have and extracurricular activities and exploratory classes at Galileo High School," Galileo High School freshman Cestihny Bennett said. "We also wanted the school to advance as far as room that we have."
Cestihny and Tamira Bennett and Kensley Waller spoke at Thursday's Danville School Board meeting.
Board members and Dr. Stan Jones, the district's superintendent, told them they need to work with their student government and principal to address their concerns first.
After the meeting, Jones tried to help the girls understand that moving to Langston is not something that can be quickly or easily done.
"We'd have to find a place for the alternative school," Jones said. "We haven't made renovations to Langston in many, many years because it hasn't been a full-functioning school."
If students at Galileo move to Langston, students at the alternative school could move to Galileo but that would require approval from the city.
"The Galileo site is the city's property, it's not the school division's property," Jones explained.
Jones also pointed out that while Galileo does not have all of the extracurricular programs that George Washington High School has, such as football and basketball, students do have access to extracurricular activities.
"We have expanded extracurricular activities at Galileo. We have soccer. We have indoor track. We have outdoor track," Jones said.
What the Galileo students are essentially asking for is to turn Galileo into a comprehensive high school like George Washington High, the city's only comprehensive high school.
Jones points out that Galileo was never intended to be a comprehensive high school and students who go there could have chosen to go to GW.
If Galileo should become a comprehensive high school or be combined with GW is a question Jones said he can't answer.
"That's the community's decision. Schools belong to the community," Jones said. "Do we need two comprehensive high schools? If we did, why didn't we do that when we created Galileo...The tradition in Danville, since it's origin, is we wanted a specialty high school and we wanted a comprehensive high school. If the community says 'We don't want that tradition anymore,' I'm all ears."
Cestihny, Tamira and Kensley said they plan to take teh school board members' and superintendent's advice and start working with their student government once the new school year starts.
"Classes are getting bigger, not smaller," Tamira, a rising junior, said. "More and more kids are coming each year and it's not fair for a student to feel overcrowded."
"When you're walking in the hallways, it's basically like bumper cars," Kensley, who's going into tenth grade, said.
Tamira said even if Galileo doesn't move to Langston's campus before she, Cestihny and Kensley graduate, knowing they could help make the move a reality for future generations makes speaking out worthwhile.
"Not only are we speaking for ourselves, we're speaking for everyone else. We've been raised and told that maybe everybody is scared to speak up because they may feel like nothing is going to be done or they're just going to ignore us," Tamira said. "If one speaks like us, you can change the world, really. One can help a billion."