Danya Levy, ’15
The past four years have been far from perfect. In the end, though, there’s no place I would have rather gone for high school.
When I reflect on my BHSEC experience, there are the usual things that come up: esoteric college classes. Astroturf. The long trek from the subway. All of these things have defined my high school experience in cheesy ways I could elaborate on for pages, i.e.: the astroturf turns up everywhere, in showers and shoes and pockets (a metaphor, perhaps, for how our academic experience seeps into every aspect of our lives?). The college classes allowed for a deeply enriching academic experience, where I delved into topics high school students at other institutions could only dream of. The long walk to school helped us bond over bad weather and have long conversations before the school day began.
There are also the things I tell parents when they inquire about BHSEC for their children. Yes, it’s pretty hard. At times infuriating, but mostly worthwhile. Lots of good teachers, incredible even, but also some bad ones. Some classes that seem like a waste of time, others that are a revelation. Teachers that will drop everything to help you when you walk into their office. Counselors who will put their all into helping you apply to college. Students who have such good ideas that they amaze you every day.
Mostly, though, reflecting on my time at BHSEC has made me think on the significance of being treated as an adult, and having a mature administration. For example, take BHSEC’s lack of a dress code. Our school has chosen not to take the foolish path of enforcing silly rules that often veer into sexism or racism. Instead, we can wear what we want, and our school knows that we can learn no matter what. We make our own choices. (And our students look amazing, too.)
For most of our high school career, we can leave the building whenever we want. We are allowed to stray from the five-paragraph-essay format and create our own ideas. For at least a part of our time at BHSEC, we choose our curriculum. And, in a more recent example, when students walked out of school for a cause we believed in, our administration reacted understandingly and positively. They respected our choices, and trusted that we would understand the consequences. And when the students of our school decided to organize a day-long teach-in, our administration both let us and supported us.
There are plenty of ways in which we are still babied, many beyond our administration’s control—and some because of them. Essays with deadlines in increments, assignments full of note-taking busywork. All of it can be sometimes frustrating, sometimes absolutely necessary as we mature academically. (Also: 8 semesters of gym? Seriously?)
Regardless, throughout our BHSEC careers, we are generally treated as responsible young people. And especially in this past year, we rose to the occasion. Our school is full of organizers and change-makers. BHSEC students have been integral in recent protests, and the teach-in is a testament to our strength as both thinkers and doers. We have taken BHSEC’s mission and put it into practice in a way more powerful than anyone ever imagined.
I’m graduating in a couple weeks, but I don’t feel like an adult yet. None of us are adults yet, not really. And it’s not like we want to be treated completely like adults, anyway. Complete freedom could be destructive. But I can sense the effect of being treated maturely, of being trusted, by both my teachers and the administration of my high school. The results are palpable. They manifest themselves in our workload and in our work, in our conversations and ideas, in how we treat each other and how we see ourselves. It affects who we will be as we head off to college and the goals we will both set and achieve.
It often seems that every year, some higher bureaucratic power imposes further regulations on BHSEC. This is a truth that most of us cannot control, and one that can restrict our independence. But it hasn’t put a damper on the way our school tries to treat us. And I hope our institution will stay that way.