Should Allegro Charter School Come to Burke? A Student’s Perspective

Angel Polkey, Staff Reporter

There’s a lot of noise lately about the proposal for Allegro Charter School coming to share Burke’s campus. But has anyone asked students what they think? Has anyone thought of the complete awkwardness of the situation?

Picture this: Burke is a uniform school. Won’t it be awkward sitting across a cafeteria table, which we have to share, with an Allegro student in casual wear while we must sport our required Old Navy Khakis and Polo Shirts? They get to wear jeans, but we don’t because Burke is a uniform school. How will students react when there are two dress codes on the same campus?

“Two schools on one campus causes all kinds of potential conflicts, including confusing expectations for students,” says Dr. Jon Hale, associate professor of education at the College of Charleston and vice chairman of Burke High School Improvement Council.

We all have so many unanswered questions, and many students at Burke are still unaware of this possibly horrible merger. We all know what happened from 1988 to1996 when Burke and Academic Magnet shared a campus. So who really thinks it is going to work 21 years later? Allegro is a music focused school, but what are they are going to offer us besides the diversity that people have been itching for since the demographic of downtown Charleston began to change?

In an interview, a Burke faculty member stated, “There appear to be two different mindsets. Allegro thinks they will preserve their identity as an individual school, but Burke students and faculty would desire, if anything, a unified body where no one is a second class citizen.”

Students at Burke are concerned about the behavior and the overall concept of the bell schedule. From the understanding that we have, Allegro’s classes are 45 minutes. Burke’s classes are 90 minutes. What happens when an Allegro student and a Burke student are both taking AP U.S. history? The Allegro student’s bell rings for dismissal, but the Burke student still has to sit in that class for the additional 45 minutes. Is that really the same bell schedule? Or would students not be able to share courses due to the different schedules? If that is the case, what is the point of a shared campus?

Student Sheniah Everson says that “precious class time would be wasted by the distraction of a bell in the middle of lecture.” Dr. Hale also says about Allegro students coming to Burke “They should be in the same classroom, but it should be under Burke Administration.”

Hale says:

“Research shows it won’t work if it’s going to be separate in so many aspects, especially socially. The Burke students are going to be in their little cliques and so will the Allegro students.””

— Dr. Jon Hale

We also haven’t even considered the next generation. What about the middle schoolers? How will the Simmons Pinckney students feel? No one has talked to them. No student input has been heard from the generation under myself and my peers. The schools are going to be at complete parallels while sharing the same building. How will that benefit Burke? We know all about Allegro’s lack of space. We are aware that they need real estate in downtown Charleston, but why Burke? Weren’t we just in the news a couple years back talking about getting shut down? Why now?

According to the plan being discussed right now, Burke students would obtain a Burke degree and Allegro students would obtain an Allegro degree. So why are we sharing a building let alone being allowed to share classes?

All Burke students are completely aware of the empty classrooms, but it doesn’t bother us. The whole purpose of attending Burke is to sustain a legacy. Dr. Hale says about Burke’s faculty and administration “Burke is capable.” We believe that Burke is extremely capable, and that we can increase our enrollment numbers without merging with Allegro, but with hard work and dedication the “New Burke” will live up to its name.

Whatever happens regarding the Burke and Allegro partnership the students’ voices need to be heard.