Bronxites Brace for School Closures

Samuel Gompers High School in Mott Haven

Samuel Gompers High School in Mott Haven

By Lennin Reyes

Bronx Journal Staff

James Monroe High School in Soundview split into three small high schools in 1994. Since then, many of the Bronx’s large comprehensive high schools have followed Monroe’s lead. This time, however, three of the schools slated for closure are large vocational and technical schools.

Recently the New York City Department of Education (DOE) announced that, due to low test scores and graduation rates and leadership failures, Grace Dodge High School in Belmont, Samuel Gompers High School in Mott Haven, and Jane Addams High School in Morrisania, will be phased out and replaced by smaller high schools. These three high schools were originally billed as alternatives to comprehensive high schools, where students would study to learn trades, such as engineering and electronics.

Students at the three schools had mixed reactions at the prospect of these closures.

Grace Dodge High School in Belmont

Grace Dodge High School in Belmont

At Grace Dodge High School, students were pretty happy upon hearing the news. “I am glad they are closing the school,” said senior Samantha Rodriguez, 17. “At Dodge, you’ll have English teachers teaching four different subjects.” Dodge students also said that they need to track down guidance counselors in order to get information for college applications and upcoming SAT exams. According to Grace Dodge HS 2010-11 Progress Report’s College Readiness Index , only 1.1 percent of Dodge’s students are ready for college, compared to the 21.5 percent citywide average.

Grace Dodge Progress Report

Three miles to the south, Samuel Gompers High School scored a 4.6 (out of 15) in school environment for the 2010-11 academic year. Students were not surprised. “Everyone there treats students like animals,” junior Polo Perks, 17, said. “You have to wait outside for an hour if you arrive late. Sometimes, they’ll suspend you randomly because they don’t like you.”

Gompers sophomore Pamela Aquino, 16, feels the school’s billing as a vocational high school is a joke. “The only vocational and technical things we learn are electronics and computer web design,” she said. Aquino adds she rarely has seen their principal, Joyce Mills Kittrell. “Half of Gompers’ student body doesn’t see or know the principal,” she added.

Jane Addams High School in Morrisania

Jane Addams High School in Morrisania

Of the three schools set to close, Jane Addams High School in Morrisania has a unique twist. In December 2011, New York investigated the school due to allegations that principal Sharron Smalls was fixing class credits for students. Students say that this scandal was the beginning of the end for Jane Addams High School.

“The scandal brought negative attention to Addams,” sophomore Ramces Gil, 16, said. “We would’ve probably stayed open if not for it.” Seniors, such as FayeVon Johnson, Raven Coggins, and Tatianna Williams, all 17, felt that the scandal created a domino effect. “We feel that the scandal resulted in teachers not paying close attention to the students, thus setting the school up to fail,” Johnson said. The three seniors also add that there were not too many resources to help students at the high school. The scandal overshadowed the fact that more than half of Jane Addams’s student body require six years to graduate.

Beginning the next school year, the schools set for closure will not accept any new freshmen. Simultaneously, the freshmen will become the first graduates of new small schools targeted to replace the big schools, which will close in 2016, when the last group of seniors graduate.

Jane Addams High School Progress Report

One Response to Bronxites Brace for School Closures

  1. Cristabolina Velazquez March 23, 2017 at 3:36 am

    I’m sad to hear Grace Dodge is closing. I graduated back
    in 78, all I have is good memories of Dodge, we had good
    Teachers and Counselers, it’s heartbreaking. 🙁


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