When someone asks a child a week before school starts whether he is looking forward to going back, the last thing you would expect to hear is, “Yes.”
That was my 9-year-old.
My startled smile must have been telling. This is the kid who utters “play, play, play” to annoy his former A-student/full-college-scholarship-recipient mother whenever he is asked to do homework. (Keep in mind that this has been going on since kindergarten and that he is now entering fifth grade.)
The reason for his smile (and mine)? Harrison is one of the first students to be entering the Huntington school district’s new STEM school — the acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and it is believed to be the first school of its kind on Long Island for students in their elementary school years.
The start-up is happening at the former Jack Abrams Intermediate School, which school board members voted to close three years ago because of concerns about shootings in Huntington Station. It was an ugly chapter in my community’s recent history, the kind that might make you cringe the way you do thinking about a lapse of judgment in your youth. Shuttering the school polarized people, pitting neighbors, even friends, against one another, and created an often ugly dialogue about race and color and what responsibilities the government should have, or not, in supporting the citizenry.
Like other bright-eyed pioneers packing their protractors in fresh, new pencil cases, Harrison wasn’t aware of this until recently. And as I would imagine many of the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders entering the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School might feel, he does not care. He is just thrilled at the prospect of focusing on what he’s loved almost since he could start talking — science, and delving into such topics such as “Designing Roller Coasters,” “Moons and Tides” and “Sound Energy.”. That’s an outcome I never expected.