'Campaign to Remain'

| 15 Feb 2012 | 11:21

Student launches lobbying campaign to keep Greenwood Lake students in Tuxedo TUXEDO — A George F. Baker High School senior has launched a grassroots movement with the specific purpose of persuading Greenwood Lake residents to influence their Board of Education to select that school, located in the Tuxedo School District and where Greenwood Lake students currently attend classes, as the board’s choice to present to voters. Lee Stanton, a Greenwood Lake resident, is the president and founder of “Campaign to Remain,” a group which seeks to promote to residents that “it is clear and obvious that George F. Baker Tuxedo is the best and only responsible option for villagers.” While Stanton stressed his campaign is not sanctioned by the Tuxedo district, school officials are aware of his ad hoc group, which was first created four years ago when Stanton was an eighth grader at Greenwood Lake Middle School. The group is an outgrowth of the current five-year contract between Greenwood Lake and Tuxedo. “We started it out of fear when we were eighth graders,” said Stanton, who balances his academic work at Baker High and as a New Visions law student at BOCES in Goshen. “I’ve been in the same boat that the seventh graders (at the middle school) are in. That really takes a toll on the school dynamic. And I think it takes a toll on the teachers at Tuxedo.” Although Stanton is a senior, he is committed to doing whatever he can to influence adult decision makers that Baker must remain the school of choice for Greenwood Lake residents. “I have a brother in the ninth grade and one in the third grade,” said Stanton, who plans to major in law and politics next year in college. “I am who I am because of Baker. I don’t know who I would be or what I would be doing had it not been for the Tuxedo and Greenwood Lake school districts. The small class sizes, it’s almost like a family. You’re not a number here, you are a person. Kids need to be at George F. Baker High.” The Greenwood Lake School District held two of three community meetings this past week featuring presentations from the Tuxedo and Warwick school districts. Officials discussed only the merits of their own districts, all part of Greenwood Lake’s process of deciding where to send its high school students now that New York State will not allow the district to build its own high school. Its contract with the Tuxedo School District expires at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. Stanton - a past president of the high school’s council who recently completed an internship with Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt and is a member of the campaign staff to elect Jesse Dwyer to the Greenwood Lake village board - attended the presentations by the Tuxedo and Warwick school districts this past week and will be attending Monroe-Woodbury’s presentation on Monday. “Everyone knows it’s financial, of course,” said Stanton, of the reason why the Greenwood Lake is undertaking its due diligence process. “But you can’t discount or downplay the very real aspect of the very real life at Tuxedo.” Already, Campaign to Remain has created a Facebook page boasting 120 members, including Rabbitt and Chabad of Orange County. “When I was in the eighth grade, we were literally bystanders in this scary situation,” said Stanton of the last Tuxedo/Greenwood Lake contract. At that same time, Warwick voters also voted against having Greenwood Lake students attend its high school. “We felt 'wronged,’” Stanton said. “Now, through this organization (Campaign to Remain) our students have a venue they can speak through, and also through me. The opinions of youth are very potent. But we are the ones who can’t vote. All we can do is sway the opinions of our parents to sway the opinion of the board.” Additionally, the group is one-third of the way of reaching its goal of 1,000 parent/adult signatures requesting the Greenwood Lake board to pick Tuxedo as the district of choice. Stanton expects to get an additional 700 signatures. Stanton - the founder of the school’s Diversity Club, its chapter of Junior Statesmen of America and a member of its anti-bullying group, Safe School Ambassadors - also said he’s beginning a student petition drive so the voices of those too young to vote could be heard. “We will get those signatures,” he said, adding they will include Baker students as well as the Greenwood Lake seventh and eighth graders. “I’d be willing to bet my house.” Stanton wanted to make it very clear that he understands the fiscal realities facing all school districts. “While we are avid supporters of George F. Baker, we are definitely seeking a fiscally responsible contract from Tuxedo,” he added. Stanton, who is the liaison to the Tuxedo and Greenwood Lake boards of education through his membership in Baker’s chapter of the National Honor Society, has the support of his family in his quest to ensure Greenwood Lake students remain at Tuxedo. “My parents are very supportive of my efforts, especially when they see this as a responsible decision to represent many student voices,” he added. “Everyone knows it’s financial, of course. But you can’t discount or downplay the very real aspect of the very real life at Tuxedo.” Lee Stanton, president and founder of “Campaign to Remain” a grassroots group looking to ensure Greenwood Lake residents remain students at George F. Baker High School in Tuxedo Join the Facebook connection Visit the “Campaign to Remain! Greenwood Lakers for George F. Baker” at: www.facebook.com/groups/195191667157706/#!/groups/195191667157706/ To learn more, email Lee Stanton at: lstanton18@gmail.com. The wooing continues Presentations held this past week: Tuxedo and Warwick Next up: Monroe-Woodbury on Monday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.at the Greenwood Lake Middle School