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Petition to stop Lorenzo Walker Technical High School closure gains momentum

Posted at 7:37 PM, Jun 06, 2024

NAPLES, Fla — Emotions are running high in Naples after the Collier County School District announced plans last week to phase out the Lorenzo Technical High School.

The district intends to convert the campus into part of a nearby technical college starting in 2028.

Now, a growing petition is calling on the district to reconsider the decision.

“We're going to keep pushing to keep the high school,” said Adrian Arniella, a 2011 graduate of Lorenzo Walker Technical High School.

Last week, the district sent out a letter informing parents, students, and staff that "this year's incoming Grade 9 students—the Class of 2028—will be the final incoming freshman class of LWTH". The move paves the way for the campus to become a new section of the nearby technical college.

“They have the resources and the abilities to expand like they say they want to—the vocational school programs—and I feel like they can do that as well as just keeping the high school the way it is,” Arniella said.

Arniella, now a successful barber, says the programs at Lorenzo Walker have helped him and countless others. He is one of more than 2,500 people who have signed a Change.org petition to stop the school from shutting down.

“Junior year, I actually started my cosmetology program and I was able to finish it thanks to a lot of help because I was not the wise young man you see nowadays back then... so those teachers there, they helped me out a lot,” Arniella added.

However, the district argues that this transition will actually open up more opportunities for career dual enrollment to students from all the other schools. For them, it's about expanding access.

“So by allowing this, by allowing us to change this model to increase opportunities across the entire district, it would allow us to expand the current footprint that we have within the high school to encompass more dual enrollment opportunities and a larger adult program as well,” said Carlos Artime, Collier County Public Schools' Executive Director of Career and Technical Education.

The school district says ultimately the decision lies with the school board. Meanwhile, former students and critics of the plan have vowed to protest in the coming weeks.

“Right now we are united in ensuring that our students are provided with the best opportunities possible,” Artime added.