It's been nearly two years since there was a school on Tybee Island. St. Michael's School had been a fixture in the community for 60 years before closing in May of 2010. But now there's a new school ready to welcome the children of Tybee this fall.
The classrooms at the former St. Michael's School on Tybee Island will soon be filled with the sounds of children again. Carolyn Jurick is President of the new school's Governing Board. She says, "Children bring life to a community - and I mean a lot of people moved off the island because the school was closed." But now some of those people may move back with the Tybee Island Maritime Academy opening this fall. Families filled the gymnasium for an Open House Tuesday night. Michelle Dubois is excited about the new school for her child, "We are absolutely thrilled to have a school back on Tybee Island - all of my children went through St. Michael's and it was really terrible when it closed down."
Replacing it didn't happen overnight. Jurick explains, "We decided to get this charter school started when the mayor said - does anybody know anything about charter schools?" Carolyn Jurick did - having been principal of the state's first ever charter school a few years back. She and other members of the community formed a board that got to work. They say the community support has been huge. "We have some really good people - we're blessed we have some folks who really stepped up and put in hundreds of hours to write the charter application - to get it through the local school board, to get it through the state - so it was an arduous process," says Tybee Mayor and Governing Board Member Jason Buelterman. But well worth the effort when you see the smiles on the faces of the parents and their children. Dubois says, "When they finally determined that they were gonna open it up - we were all just overjoyed and every parent on Tybee Island was overjoyed - we should have had a party." Mayor Buelterman says, "A school is really the essential focal point of a community and to not have had that over the past few years has been - has not been a good thing for Tybee - so to bring it back is very exciting."
The school will focus on maritime education - preparing children for careers in things like shipping, marine science or tourism. The academy begins taking applications from potential new students on Friday. For more information, click the link with this story to visit the Tybee Island Maritime Academy website.
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