The superintendent of schools wants to close my alma mater, and the students are fighting to save it. We drove past this rally the other night and honked in support. It was really awesome to hear the cheers that came in response. Apparently there is a new ninth-grade civics class called “Be the Change,” which, I’m guessing, teaches students how to create change themselves, not wait for it happen to them by someone else’s hands. The rallying students took their lessons to the streets.
I’m so proud of them. The district seems intent on closing the school and splitting it up, no matter how many sensible arguments they hear from the opposition. Perhaps this is inevitable. But at this time in history, when governments seem to feel that they can do whatever they want because they receive no resistance from the people they serve, it’s wonderful to hear someone say, “No!”
These kids are smack dab in the middle of one of the most self-centered and passive generations that the world has ever seen. And they’re not taking it. They’re not selling themselves short. They know what they have and they know that the school is THEIRS, not Mark Roosevelt’s.
What was so wonderful and unique about Schenley was that you had every single socioeconomic group represented there and they all got along. There were no static cliques. There was no popular crowd. Sure, there were groups of people that gravitated to one another, but it was never like, “Well, you’re really smart and you’re headed to college, therefore you can’t hang out with the kids that sneak out to smoke,” or “You’re a jock, therefore you can’t hang out with the pimply kid playing Magic.” People moved between groups like water. And, yes, we had school spirit because we knew how uncommon it is to fit 3,000 extremely different people into one building and have only minor incidents. We knew how uncommon it is for people to have a sense of pride in their high school. We knew how uncommon it is to find a place where a guy can come to school wearing a dress and make it through the day intact. We knew how uncommon it is to see rough kids from the ‘hood working in pottery class next to ballerinas from the suburbs.
That is what these kids are trying to save. And if the district really cares about them, they better damn well listen. Because if we’re not going to fight for our kids and their wellbeing, then what the hell is there worth fighting for?