The end of uncertainty for Columbus Grove middle school students


Ashima Kundu

The Columbus Grove sign marks the entrance of the neighborhood.

Last month, Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) school board officials decided to allow middle school students living in Columbus Grove to attend Woodbridge High despite the fact the community lies outside of the newly implemented attendance boundaries.

With the opening of Portola High and continuous housing developments throughout the city, IUSD decided to change the high school boundaries for the 2016-2017 school year onwards in order to more effectively distribute students amongst the five public schools. According to the IUSD website, this initial change meant that incoming high schoolers from Columbus Grove would go to Irvine High as opposed to Woodbridge High.

The change in boundaries upset parents who wanted their children to receive an education from Woodbridge and students who feared being separated from friends they made over the past couple of years in middle school.

Senior and Columbus Grove resident Sarah Barrios recognized the benefits of staying with friends and how a change in schools takes away the familiar environment that helped her transition into high school.

“Allowing students to stay with their middle school friends eliminates a huge stress factor that would’ve had to face had they gone to another high school,” Barrios said. “Rather than focusing on classes they would be too distracted by just trying to not be alone.”

The other primary concern was that this was not the first time Columbus Grove students have been caught in a boundary shift. IUSD altered the elementary school boundaries in the fall of 2011, which moved Columbus Grove from Stone Creek to the Culverdale and Westpark area.

After receiving some concerned feedback from parents, IUSD later decided to amend the decision. Students in second grade and above were allowed to stay in Stone Creek.

“So what they were saying is: we’ve already been shuffled around and we were promised we could go to Stone Creek,” Principal Christopher Krebs said, explaining the argument he heard from the community. “All of us are going with our friends to Lakeside, and only a few of us are splintering off to go to Irvine High. And that was the basis of their argument.”

Recognizing the community’s concerns, School Board officials researched the backgrounds of affected families and decided at the board meeting on December 15  to allow Columbus Grove eighth graders graduating from Lakeside to attend Woodbridge. After reviewing the potential impact, the board later decided to grandfather the affected sixth and seventh grade classes as well. While happy for the students, senior and Columbus Grove resident Lily Lee feels that this group of students would still have managed to thrive outside of Woodbridge.

“I feel that no matter where you go, you will always be able to find your place and make more friends,” Lee said.

As a result of the ruling, Woodbridge High is expected to exceed its capacity of 2,400 and officially become the largest school in the district. The school’s capacity will expand following the construction of a new theater, which will contain additional classrooms, but until then, new portables will be brought in to accommodate the overflow.

“It’s hard because everywhere we pull from has great kids and great families, so it’s hard to say no to anywhere,” Krebs said. “But you’ve got a group of kids who are really passionate about going to Woodbridge high school, and we want kids who are really passionate about being at Woodbridge.”

Ultimately, the district wanted to provide students with a definite state of certainty during their final years of schooling.

“I think it’s great thing that these students are getting some kind of stability; now friendships don’t have to fall apart and siblings are given the opportunity to attend school together,” Barrios said. “I really think that the social benefit that comes from these boundaries will help students in the long run.”