Don’t Throw Out History With Educational Reform
Campus Magnet High School has a nice ring to it. It makes the school sound like a preppy rambling campus that brings all sorts of people together. It has not graduated too many students, however, because it did not exist until eight years ago. Until then, it was Andrew Jackson High School. Under the rubric of educational reform and the “small schools” movement, Campus Magnet became first a small part of Jackson and then, like Topsy, it grew until it took over and Jackson is no more – much to the ire of those people who graduated from the former school over the years. We now understand that both Far Rockaway High School and Beach Channel High School are slated for the same treatment by the Department of Education. Just this year, a new small high school, Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School, with its own staff and administration, took over one hallway at Far Rockaway High School. The academy has about 100 students, but looks to expand exponentially over the next few years. How long will it be before the physical building on Bay 25 Street, which has been Far Rockaway High School for more than 100 years, becomes something else? Nobody is sure, but one indication that the DOE has plans for Far Rockaway High School is that it cut the number of students slated for this year’s freshman class way down. In the same vein, a new grades 6-12 program called the Channel View Academy for Research has taken a portion of Beach Channel High School. There is a promise that the program will add hundreds of students over the next few years. How long will it be before the Frederick Douglass Seahorses are competing against the Channel View Dolphins in football? Probably not long, but the losers in the mix will be all of the alumni of the two schools who no longer have anywhere to go to celebrate their teenaged years and their high school experience. It seems to us that the DOE should understand that schools such as Far Rockaway, and Beach Channel (to a lesser degree because it is not as old) played a large part in the development of the community and that it would be a great loss if the name and its history disappear forever.