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First Person: Jacumba School Closes After Almost 90 Years

August 14, 2017 1:19 p.m.

First Person: Jacumba School Closes After Almost 90 Years


Susan Barry, former teacher, Jacumba school

Related Story: First Person: Jacumba School Closes After Almost 90 Years


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

It is time for another installment of our series, 1st period is an -- person. Summer is nearly over and it is almost time to go back to school. The eastern most town, some kids will not return to the hometown school. They will now be bused to a school in a school opened in the 1930s. Long time to come schoolteacher retired in 2003. She is worried about how the change will impact the children.My name is Susan Mary. I was a teacher at Jacumba Middle School for almost 25 years. The thing I like the most about it was that it was small. We knew the kids really well. We knew their families. If they were sick, we could drop off homework. A small school is wonderful that way. You can follow kids. They can tell you when you are getting a kid that was in their class the year before. They can tell you this is how this child learns or you know, be careful about this or whatever. Everybody kind of knows a lot about each child. They really know them. They know their family and their situation. That is wonderful also because in a big school, you do not get that. We averaged between 50 and 60 students. We did take a hit because when they put the border wall up, we had kids from the little village on the other side of the border in Mexico who came across to go to school every day. We lost 13 children that day. Boy, it was a very bad day. Everybody was crying. It was very bad. The only thing that they did to, they did let families live in Jacumba. They rented or stayed in little trailers with five kids. I do not know how they did. It was important to them. They could come over Sunday evening and stay all week and go to school. Then, on Friday after school, they went back over to Mexico. We eventually got all the 13 kids back except for two. The school was a wonderful school. Twice, we had the Olympic torch come through Jacumba and the kids carried the torch and the flag. We could go on field trips. The whole school fit in one bus. We went and there is lots of kids here that could not do that with their families but we took them to SeaWorld. We went to wild animal Park. We went to the zoo. We went on the ferry. We did a lot of things for the kids because we are so far out here and because a lot of people do not have transportation. They never would've had the opportunity. We had the Sheriff who came as Santa for many years. He had flown a helicopter in Vietnam. The first time he came as Santa, he came in a helicopter. [ laughter ] And of course, the next year when he came in a truck, the kids were a little disappointed. [ laughter ] Where is the helicopter, Santa? We just called it our school family. The big kids, the sixth-graders took care of the little ones. The kids put on Halloween carnivals and made tickets and did the booths. It just was a wonderful, wonderful school. To have it just close down, to me, it does not seem like a lot of thought or enough carrying about our community and our kids, to make this drastic closing and moving and all of that. I think the impact will be huge because of the socioeconomic level in our town. It is not as if these people can't just up and move. Also, they might have trouble doing any kind of homeschooling or anything. I cannot imagine what will happen. I really cannot. That will mean that all of the kids in Jacumba are bused somewhere. The little kids are bused to the flat school and a big kids will be bused to Campo. I venture to say that with the stops to pick up kids, they will be on the bus almost an hour, and hour each way. There, we are from our nice little residential school that used to be K-6 and all the kids in town could just walk to school and welcome, we have all of our kids that are being bused. We have an absolutely tiptop afterschool program but now, with no transportation after it, there are very few parents, if any that will be able to drive every day from Jacumba to Campo to pick their children up from the afterschool program. There is nothing for children to do here. Now, they will be in town when they get home and get off the bus. Now what? That worries me a lot. They have nothing to do.That was Susan Barry, a schoolteacher. That was produced by Brooke Ruth.