BY IAN THOMSON
“The world is a diverse community, and this school is a microcosm of the world.”
BY PAULA NEUDORF
The grand opening of the first public high school in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, was ushered in by a towering inflatable rat. As chattering ninth-graders filed into the building for their first day of school in the brand-new facility, members of the engineer’s union Local 94 chanted slogans near the school’s entrance.
BY SUSIE POPPICK
The cafeteria roared with conversation — very little of it in English — and one perplexed student gripped two plastic sporks in one hand, trying to manipulate them like chopsticks.
“That’s how you know a student is new,” said Assistant Principal Rene Anaya. “The students who have been here awhile have gotten used to American customs.”
BY DEREK SIMONS
When the Washington Heights Middle School “Minerva” 321 gained its full independence and own principal in 2004, the first class of sixth-graders enrolled. Two years later, 380 students across grades six through eight were studying the scholastic basics and specializing in law and journalism.
But New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) gave a “thumbs down” to the Minerva experiment last year. Today is the first day of its last two years of existence.
BY SOMMER SAADI
Students at Pan American, the factory-building-turned-school located in the Hispanic-dominated neighborhood of Elmhurst, Queens, must be native Spanish speakers who have lived in the U.S. for less than four years. This year, the school’s third, Pan American is welcoming 275 students, mostly from Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Colombia, to grades nine through 11.
BY VICTOR LI
Franco Mena is upset. His team of young soccer players is about to face off against the Mexican team a few blocks away, but as Mena is laying out strategy to his huddle, he sees one of his players paying more attention to his cleats than his coach. Another is looking over at the interloper who has been assigned to write about the team.
BY VICTOR LI
For 9-year-old Shivani Angappan, “poinsettia” spelled v-i-c-t-o-r-y. Luckily for her, she didn’t actually spell it that way.
With the poise of someone twice her age and the vocabulary of someone three times as old, Angappan strode to the microphone and proved that she didn’t need spell-check, an iPhone app. or an electronic dictionary in order to spell.