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Local: Education

Battle won, Garrison parents celebrate

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Local,DC,Education,Rachel Baye

While some parents and elected officials were ready to take up arms Thursday over the announcement that the District plans to close 15 schools, parents of students at Garrison Elementary School were celebrating.

"I started crying in my meeting," Ann McLeod, the school's PTA president, said of her reaction to the news that the school straddling the border of Wards 1 and 2 -- on a list of 20 schools DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson proposed closing -- would remain open.

The parents were not the only ones elated with the news. Ward 1 D.C. Councilman Jim Graham called the decision to keep the school open "a community victory."

When the proposed closing was announced in November, parents did not take it sitting down. They put up signs urging people to "Save Garrison," gathered nearly 600 signatures on an online petition and gained the support of local community leaders.

"I think one of the good things that came out of it is we realized how much support we have not just from the parents -- not just from the people who are directly at the school -- but also the community at large," said Dima Reda, whose son is in prekindergarten at Garrison.

Henderson said the decision was made partly because of new demographic information showing faster population growth rates in school-age children, which would make fitting the student population into Seaton Elementary School as planned difficult.

Though the crisis has been largely averted, McLeod said the near-miss increases pressure to improve academic programs and continue increasing enrollment.

"Now we have to prove even more that they were wrong to ever include us on the list," she said. - Rachel Baye

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