Valedictorians have hotdogs with Mayor Bloomberg

Since Murrow is a "non competitive" school there was no mention made at graduation of the fact that my brilliant young relative was Salutatorian (knowledge is its own reward - I really believe that - although she is not so sure - file that under "life lesson"). She did get an invite from the Mayor to come to Gracie Mansion for hotdogs with all the other lovely valedictorians and salutatorians from high schools all over the city. But that is not what I want to talk about...

When we walked into that teeming horde of bright over achievers we were delighted to see several other faces that we knew well - valedictorians from three eminent public schools who all attended my relative's middle school. I think that this is an astounding feat. I think so because they attended a tiny unknown school in its second year. When we decided to list this little pip squeak of a school as our first choice on the middle school app, I was told by many friends and relations that it was foolish to take a chance on an unknown school (and unknown kids, unknown stats, unknown "rigor"). I just had this feeling though... I liked the principal A LOT and I thought the teachers would do right by my relatives. We didn't want the established and famous schools because they didn't quite fit; they were too big, or not right socially, or too far away. I talked to all 5 of the teachers (yes, 5 in that first year). I thought that they could teach my relatives something, and it turns out that they did. Their 6th grade science teacher is THE reason that they are both majoring in biology next year. We had no idea who the other students would be and when my husband dropped them off on the first day, he called me to say, "we are not in Kansas anymore Toto". In a way it was a little like the Land of Misfit Toys. The great thing was that they all had their "different drummer" in common and they forged a bond that was stronger than a clique because, as they described it, "we were too small to exclude anyone". So, from a middle school with no proven rigor, a very wide disparity of income levels and ethnicities, where are the graduates of this then unknown/untried school going to college? Columbia, Cornell, RISD, University of Michigan, Knox College, Swarthmore, Reed, NYU, Northwestern, Bowdoin... impressive, no?

Choosing a new school can be a risky proposition and many flounder, but if you trust your gut, get as much information as possible, and work tirelessly to help that school succeed in any way you can as a parent. You can say, like we can, "we were the first". And by the way, all those people who told us we were making a huge mistake came back to us at the end of 8th grade and said, "wow, you were right." It is all a combiination of safe environment, caring and enthusiastic teachers and students of whatever background that take advantage of a good thing.

I love that!