By Sandy Chen ‘15
Mike Rosen, an alumnus of the Midwood class of 1977, is the editor of the graphic novel Oil and Water. When he graduated from Midwood he thought he knew what he wanted to do in the future, but being an editor was not one of them.
While Mr. Rosen was in Midwood, the school provided him with his most memorable experiences because of the activities he participated in. These activities included the Cycling Club, Sing and Model Congress. When he was in the Model Congress, he participated in and “probably initiated a full on food fight in the teacher’s cafeteria.” But his best experience had to be when he got a lead role in Senior SING.
“We spent so many long nights at Midwood rehearsing, revising, arguing and mostly having an awesome time,” Mr. Rosen said. “It was literally one of the best experiences of my life and probably the best bonding experience ever!”
Along with the memorable experience in SING, Mr. Rosen started Radio Midwood with his friend Adam Gaffin. Every morning of senior year, they were allowed to get on the PA system during homeroom and “embarrass themselves with telling bad jokes” and real news.
“I would guess we amused ourselves MUCH more than anyone else,” said Mr. Rosen.
He also loved spending lots of time with his life-long best friends: Paul Weinstein, Julia Rabinowitz, and Stanley Alpert.
Mr. Rosen was a hard-working student. He arrived to school at 8 AM with four periods until lunch. For lunch, he and his friends typically went out to Flatbush Avenue then had another three to four hours of school. He left school around 4:30 PM unless he had an afternoon activity like SING. On days Mr. Rosen had SING, he left school anywhere from 9 PM to 11 PM. Mr. Rosen also worked at the M&M Pharmacy two or three times a week as a delivery boy or stock boy. After work he went home and studied or did homework for two to three hours.
“I was a nerd,” said Mr. Rosen.
With the good memories, there were also bad ones. Mr. Rosen recalls that some of his worst memories at Midwood involved having bad classes such as the gym classes run by the football coach. “To be as polite as possible, he was incompetent and cruel,” said Mr. Rosen.
Another thing Mr. Rosen didn’t think highly of was Midwood’s deans.
“They seemed to delight in breaking the spirits of Midwood students,” he commented. “I’m sure things are much better now on both fronts!”
Two of his favorite classes were with Ms. Arkin, an English teacher, and Ms. Levine, a chemistry teacher.
“I loved chemistry with Ms. Levine,” Mr. Rosen recalled. “She was crabby and not very popular, but she was a great teacher.”
Originally influenced by his chemistry teacher, Ms. Levine, Mr. Rosen planned to pursue his interest in the chemistry field. But when chemistry didn’t stick, he became interested in environmental science. The environmental focus happened in college, particularly graduate school. He spent his first year at Brooklyn College but always remembered Ms. Levine urging him to go to SUNY Binghamton.
“I stuck it out at Brooklyn College for a year but couldn’t stand being across the street from my high school and living at home so I bailed and went to Binghamton,” said Mr. Rosen.
Now many years after college and graduate school, Mr. Rosen works as the manager of the Watershed Division for the City of Portland. He is involved with protecting Portland’s natural resources, mainly the Willamette River and its tributaries, — and works alongside environmental activists. He was enraged when he learned about the Summer of 2010 British Petroleum (BP) oil spill that occurred along the Gulf Coast of the U.S.
“As we watched the oil spill go on and on, we all felt helpless and angry,” said Mr. Rosen. “We also knew we could not be part of the cleanup, since it was run by BP, and the environmental damage would be severe and extend well into the future.”
Mr. Rosen later decided to travel to the Gulf Coast with 20 people to explore the effect of the oil spill which is the subject of the graphic novel Oil and Water, written by Steven Duin and illustrated by Shannon Wheeler.
“We decided to bear witness in order to tell the stories that wouldn’t be told, and as much as possible to keep the issue in public eye,” he said.
As Mr. Rosen took part in the trip to the Gulf Coast, he also took part as a character in the graphic novel.
“I was drawn way overweight, probably because I was severely nagging Shannon to get his work done,” said Mr. Rosen. “One thing I really liked though was that Shannon agreed to draw me in my favorite Green Lantern T-shirt but I had to nag him about that too.”