For the last few months, Long Island City High School students, faculty, and graduated alumni have been desperately trying to keep LIC open. Throughout 2010, LIC was labeled as a problem school because of below standard Regents exam scores and city average graduation rate. The school was given a few years to improve its scores. Students began organizing online to spread the word about saving their school. When I began to follow efforts on Facebook and see that many people were trying their best to improve and maintain LIC, I let myself believe that Mayor Bloomberg could not possibly shut the school down.
Last Thursday night, I received a text message, notifying me that Long Island City High school was going to be shut down and turned into a new school. And thus began my frantic online search of what had gone wrong. Students all over the city had clearly and very loudly voiced their disagreement to the closing of Long Island City High school and several other schools. From what I had seen, fliers were made, blue and white shirts had been worn, and speeches were made at public hearings and the phrase “I Am LIC” came about. The day after the text message was filled with me watching video after video on Youtube of the recent public hearing. I was and still am shocked that such valid points seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
Granted, there were improvements that could have been made to LIC while I was a student there, but no school is perfect. I found the world in LIC. So many religions and ethnic groups were present which comforted me since I had heard stories from other friends about high schools where certain racial groups were and still are part of a very small minority. LIC was extremely crowded when I began as a freshman but it taught me how to weave my way through crowds which has proven to be a worthy skill on a packed subway platform or trying to get around tourists in Manhattan where I now attend college.
At LIC I also made a definite decision to work towards a career in Media and creative writing. The three years that I was able to be part of the newspaper’s staff filled me with amazing memories and lessons that I would not have learned had I decided to go to another school. Writing for Skyline taught me that deciding to become a journalist is going to lead me down a difficult road, but not an impossible one. I was shocked when the city decided to take the easy way out and take back their decision about giving LIC more time to continue improving. It was as if they had deemed something that could be done with a certain amount of effort, into something that was impossible, something not worth fighting for.
I have several very close friends who continue to support me to this day, many of which I met in LIC. Despite distance and different universities, I have been able to remain in contact with several people who attended Long Island City with me for four years. LIC was also filled with other memories such as meeting teachers who treated their students like their own children. Many of my teachers proved to be as interesting and diverse as the student body. My math teacher during my junior year had lived through communism in China and was not able to finish his education until his late 20s. He was filled with jokes and small anecdotes of wisdom, many of which I still remember today. My Italian teacher saw me grow as a person over the many years that I had her as a teacher. She would scold my class if any of us were late or if we had missed a day. My government teacher motivated my class to study using snacks and innovative ways of studying such as playing jeopardy in class and having us form groups to review certain chapters.
Long Island City gave me a world of potential and showed me that teachers really do care about their students. Thanks to the counselors in LIC, I am now in college and I was also able to receive a scholarship. I learned how to read music and perform while in the school’s percussion ensemble. I donated blood for the first time LIC, which has helped me come one step closer to conquering my irrational fear of injections. Everyone who has attended LIC has their own story to tell, their own reasons for wanting the school to continue as LIC so that future students can be given the opportunities that were bestowed upon previous students.
It can be argued that the building will not close and that all the recourses previous students had will be given to the incoming students. But some of these resources were available due to many of the teachers who had the motivation and knowledge needed. If these teachers are denied a job in the new school, their knowledge, their experience and their motivation will no longer be a part of the school. Anyone can argue that a name is just a name and that the building will remain intact. But for many of us, that name is an identity. It is etched in our memories, it is the name that is on my diploma and it’s even on my Facebook profile. I don’t want that name to be something that will eventually be swallowed and eradicated by history. I do not want the many amazing teachers who taught me so much in Long Island City High school to face uncertainty in their future as educators.
I didn’t have to get up every morning for two and half years to make it to first period. I didn’t have to care if I made it late or not since I live an hour away from LIC, but I did. The teachers didn’t have to listen to what I had to say and they didn’t have to care about me or the other students. But they did. The current teachers and students of Long Island City High school deserve so much more than what is happening in the school today. Writing this piece and saying “thank you” to all the teachers in LIC will never come close to repaying them for everything that they have taught me. They are educators who have to sometimes become parents and even become friends or mentors to their students. All the essays in the world will never come close to thanking faculty of LIC and all the friends I made there for all they have done. The best I can do is putting my thoughts in print and show those teachers that all their effort was worth something in the end.