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Frayser-area students take change-agent stance for a new high school

Among the ways to measure maturity is taking a stand for a future better than the present and that was the collective posture of Frayser-area students, who recently made a public pitch for a new high school.

The Trezevant High School Library, 3350 N. Trezevant St., was the setting last Friday (May 26) for a student-led press conference powered by students from Trezevant and Frayser Community Schools. With the fate of funding for a proposed new Frayser-area high school in the hands of the Shelby County Commission, the students shifted into an advocacy mode.

Student-athlete Rickey Wright. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises)

“Having a good school in Frayser would encourage students and change perceptions about this community,” said Rickey Wright, a student-athlete, who plays baseball. “It would mean we won’t have to go outside our school to have access to some programs, such as STEM and culinary arts.”

Talk of a new school for the Frayser area goes back several years. In April, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris announced that a proposed, multi-year increase in capital spending would include funding for a new high school in Frayser. He has encouraged area residents to let the county’s commissioners know of their support.

Student-athlete Terrion Taylor makes a case for a new Frayser-area high school. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

Rising freshman Terrion Taylor, also a student athlete baseball player, layered his “passionate about our community” support with ground-level details.

“…As an athlete, I have gone to other schools that had better equipment. Better equipment for me means I don’t have to put down dirt on the field,” he said.

“I have gone out of town, and these schools have had equipment with batting, pitching, outfield, and base-running. We don’t have any of those things. Our equipment is makeshift. We have to make it ourselves.”

While administrators helped organize the event, the essence of it clearly belonged to the students.

Trezevant High Principal Corey Kelly. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

“We have been talking about these students being change agents for the future,” said Trezevant High Principal Corey Kelly, who is retiring this year. “Although they will probably not be the ones to go into the new school, they will have been agents of change for those generations coming after them.

“These words are their words. They wrote them without our input so everyone will know how they feel about getting a new school.”

Memphis-Shelby County Schools Board Commissioner Stephanie Love, who represents the area, left no doubt about her support for a new high school in Frayser.

MSCS Board Commissioner Stephanie Love represents the Frayser area. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

“Of course, I will be advocating for a new school this year,” said Love. “Why not Frayser? We want the same level of education for our children that they have in Collierville – the same facilities, the same access to programs, equipment, books.

“Why should our children have to  go outside of this community to get a quality education?”

Kelly, who has been principal at Trezevant for six years, would like to see funding granted for a new high school as he makes his exit.

“There are 2,250 students zoned for Trezevant High School,” said Love. “A little over 500 actually attend, grades 9-12. Trezevant is the most ‘transferred out’ school in the district.”

A new Frayser-area high school is tabbed as an $80 million project that would mesh the student bases of Trezevant High School and the old Frayser High School, now MLK Prep – one of three schools (along with Westside Middle and Humes Middle) that operate under the Frayser Community Schools umbrella.

Alex Turner, a Westside Middle School student, said a new high school would mean he could stay in his community and “pursue (my) dreams of becoming an astronaut and engineer.”

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