Special-needs students moved in Cordova conversion

By: By Christine S. Carroll - Staff Writer

One of the last schools in the state dedicated to teaching only the most medically and emotionally fragile of students, Cordova School closed for good in the spring.

In the fall, its approximately 60 students began classes at neighborhood schools: Monroe Avenue Elementary, Cordova Middle, the Ninth-Grade Academy and Richmond Senior High School.

“We are preparing them for the world.” said Amber Watkins, the district’s director of programs for special-needs students. “We’re teaching them to be part of the population.”

The decision wasn’t made without opposition. Several parents and grandparents, including Pat and Becky Campbell, pleaded with the Richmond County Board of Education to keep the kids at the school they were used to. School board member Jerry Ethridge was the lone dissenter in the 6-1 vote.

With the move, some things changed, and some didn’t.

Because the children were more seriously disabled than others already being taught in typical classes, the ex-Cordova Comets moved into self-contained classrooms, meeting typical students only during lunchtime and physical-education classes. Often, they had the same teachers and aides they had known at Cordova.

They all came back together in October to attend the Richmond County Agricultural Fair, a traditional event where they exulted in the colorful rides and somewhat smelly animals.

In the meantime, the old Cordova School became the new Cordova Middle School.

Former Rohanen Middle School Rebels were now Cordova Cavaliers, shedding some of the stigma they had felt at the crumbling Rohanen.

Student athletes played their first football game on a new, emerald-green field and looked forward to the building of a regulation-sized gymnasium. The volleyball team won its first game, and each day, students buckled down to work in a new computer lab.

By Christine S. Carroll

Staff Writer

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Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or christinecarroll@yourdailyjournal.com.

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or christinecarroll@yourdailyjournal.com.