Demitrius Schwartz, ’18
The Class of 2018 is now entering its third month at BHSEC. This new class has spent little time milling about the hallways and trying to avoid eye contact with upperclassmen. In the precious few minutes before school starts each morning, the ninth graders are out in full force, mainly inhabiting the basketball courts where Basketball Team hopefuls continue to attempt the full court shot in vain. Others play poker and listen to music in Dr. Freund’s room. One Dean’s Hour, on the far corner of the Yard, freshman Enmanuel De La Nuez stated with grave honesty that “waking up is the hardest part of the day,” while feverishly flipping through pages of Fahrenheit 451. This year’s ninth grade features many interesting personalities: social media magnates, band members, artists, photographers, a published author, programmers, athletes, and many others with unique talents and interests.
During Writing and Thinking, upperclassmen warned of difficulties to come. Freshmen began to understand what lay ahead during midterm week, when studying and commuting became common concerns. To take their minds off the stress of this transition, many ninth graders have shown extreme interest in the various school clubs. Freshmen have created clubs themselves, such as the “Bard Majors,” a singing club. This kind of enthusiasm for the social aspect of BHSEC is shared by many ninth graders, who in this short time, have built a sense of community that is almost tangible in the Yard and Library.
Rather than the stereotypical high school social struggle commonly depicted in the media, the ninth grade class has shown support for each other. Students sit at the far side of the yard, all with study guides in hand, practicing Mandarin. Freshman Vera Friedman said that, “The class of 2018 is a group of really smart and intelligent kids, who seem to be really hard workers.”
For a proper understanding of the Ninth grade class, the student’s lives outside of school is equally important. A high proportion of this class is from Manhattan, while a large group takes the downtown F train to neighborhoods like Park Slope, Boerum Hill, and the general downtown Brooklyn area. A smaller number of students represent The Bronx, while students from Queens and Long Island are scarce. However, the areas from where the students commute from has not stopped them from showing up to school early to study.
In these close study circles, the diversity of this class is shown. While most students are of Caucasian ethnicity, there are very prominent Hispanic and African-American communities, in addition to smaller, but equally prominent, Asian, Indian, and other ethnic communities. This speaks volumes about BHSEC. Although New York is extremely diverse, it is still one of the most segregated cities in the country, which directly translates into the public school system. It is impressive that the class of 2018 and the rest of BHSEC is so diverse, against all the odds.
Topics concerning diversity and race have been central to recent class discussions. The subject of gentrification and racism is something that has been discussed in freshman class for the past few weeks, as students tackled The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley. In Mr. Garces Kiley’s class, students have very strong opinions about this. Discussions that begin in class often go overtime and it is common to hear heated arguments in the stairwells as freshmen walk to their next classes.
Mr. Garces Kiley said, “I can’t believe you guys have to wait so long to graduate. You seem to be mature and ready to tackle big questions NOW. I’ve always been impressed by BHSEC students. Students in this ninth grade class seems particularly cheerful and gregarious, but in a way that doesn’t cancel out their introspective qualities.” Mr. Garces Kiley’s sentiments ring true. While graduation day seems like a distant date that will never come, the class of 2018 has already started tackling the challenges that they will have to overcome during their time at BHSEC. For better or for worse, the Class of 2018 is extremely unique. How will they shape BHSEC? Only time will tell.