A series of students of every age and race began to file onto the stage, one by one. Each of them held up a large white sign, with a message written on it in black marker. The front would say something about how they didn’t feel like they belonged at school, or the school didn’t offer the classes they wanted to take, or they weren’t doing well in a particular subject. Then they would turn the sign over, and the reverse said how an alternative form of education had changed their life.
This display was part of a school choice rally held at the Montgomery Performing Arts Center on Friday, January 27. Nine students from the Judson equestrian program — Mercedes Barger, McKayla Birchfield, Kirsten Britnell, Tara Kamphuis, Hope Langkow, Logan Lanier, Kathleen Morgan, Hannah Kate Stallo, and Kate Wright — attended the event, accompanied by Dr. Mitcham and Jennifer Hoggle. The rally was designed to bring awareness to the need for students and their families to have options in education, such as charter schools and private colleges like Judson. Several schools had representatives speak in person and in promotional videos, and groups of students came on stage to lead the crowd in a dance to “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. A highlight of the event was the announcement that Alabama’s first charter school will be opened in the fall of this year. The Judson College equestrian department attends this event each year to represent the school.
When asked about the event, Dr. Mitcham noted that “As an institution of higher education, we have a vested interest in the state of education in Alabama and we want to support programs like the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship that benefit students from across the state.”
Senior Mercedes Barger attended this year for the third time and said, “I feel that the rally brings attention to an important cause while providing an exciting environment. I feel this helps to show a positive example to the younger students present, so that they can see that anything really is possible.”