The Last Lesson: Students Fear Key Programs Will Be Lost
This week we've seen some of the problems up close that have lead the city to want to close Paul Robeson High School. In part three of her series, NY1's Lindsey Christ turns to some of the positives at the Brooklyn school -- from college advising to parenting programs that achieve success against the odds.
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There was plenty of school spirit on display when Paul Robeson squared off against rival Thomas Jefferson on a recent weekday afternoon. There also was plenty of security because of an all out brawl involving fans and players when the teams matched up four years ago. The fight also resulted in Robeson's team being suspended for a year.
Students say the games are much more contained now and they want everyone to know that there's a lot more than basketball at Robeson. They're afraid if the school is closed, the community will lose several established programs which have had very positive impacts on their lives.
"I think this school has so many tools available for any student who comes in the building," said Robeson High guidance counselor Jacqueline Hudson.
Some of those tools are for students who are doing well, like college scholarships from Citigroup just for Robeson students and a college mentoring program run by Princeton graduates.
Other programs are for struggling students.
The Lyfe Center, like day care centers for student parents at other schools, operates at the will of the principal. And while the Department of Education says this one may stay open after the school is gone, it's far from guaranteed.
Santana Anderson came from Boys and Girls High School and expects to graduate on time with good grades, thanks to Robeson's center. So does Robeson student, Sierra Whetstone, who had a baby when she was 15.
"Finances is not good. So I think I would probably be home right. I know I would be home, if not for them," Whetstone said.
"This daycare center has saved my life," Anderson said.
On Fridays, every student takes part in an advisory program, which connects them with adults in the building. Last year, when Simone Munroe's father kicked her out of her home, she says those connections were all she had. Her teachers helped her find a group home and raised money for her to get through her senior year and graduate on time.
"There were nights when I would tear up because it's like, my family isn't there for me, but my school was there for me. My school is my family," Munroe said.
Students and teachers say that family, and those bonds that were so hard to build, will be broken if Robeson High is closed.