By Damali Ramirez’18, Karen Aquino’18, Rianna Russell ’18 and Jasmine Thelumsa ‘18
Diversity is a core aspect of what makes New York City high schools unique. Diversity is “the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.”
Midwood is one of the few high schools in New York City (NYC) to have a diverse population. According to Mr. Albert Peterson’s research on students’ ethnicity, 35 percent are Asian Pacific Islanders, 28 percent are African Americans, 23 are percent white, 12 percent are Hispanics, and two percent are other.
Mr. Kyle Manson attended, graduated, and now teaches forensics science and biology in Midwood. When he returned to teach he felt as though he never left.
“The diversity was exactly the same as when I attended. The only thing that changed was the annex; we didn’t have that when I was a student” said Mr. Manson. His experience with this setting was the reason he returned. He believes the old schools he used to teach in failed to capture the same diverse atmosphere.
New students immediately capture the diversity as they walk in the building.
Kiara King’20 said, “On the first day of school I felt like I was walking in Manhattan. There are so many cultures in this building and it helps people who are closed-minded expand their knowledge.”
Olivia Foote ‘19 agreed that coming to this school helped her understand cultures. “From a young age I was not exposed to different cultures but since I came to Midwood I realized that the majority of New York is culturally diverse,”said Foote
Ethnic diversity is also represented in many teams. As the coach of the cheerleading team, Ms. Joanna Alonso comes in contact with this every day. As a result she sees this as a powerful thing.
According to Ms. Alonso, “I think the diversity that we have in the squad is a great representation of the school as a whole.”
Teams require a great deal of communication and students must have mutual respect. This is especially true for the cheerleading team because all the cheerleaders have to work together to create new dances that they will then perform for the whole school.
“When newcomers approach either the squad or the school, it is a little more welcoming for them. It also brings a sense of togetherness because it causes each team member to learn from and interact with people of other cultures,” said Ms. Alonso.
The website SchoolBook.org affirmed city educational officials are currently in the process of helping schools become more diverse, especially the Upper West Side of Manhattan. There has been talk of redrawing school zones which will affect 11 schools on the Southern part of the district. They’re hoping this will put an end to economic and racial division.
“We are neighbors, we are friends, we are colleagues and we are going to act like it,”said the president of the community education council Joe Fiordalis in a podcast on SchoolBook.org. Mr. Fiordaliso has been receiving overwhelming emails from angry parents who don’t want the school zones to change. Later, he held a meeting to encourage parents with the idea of desegregation but only got a few supporters.
Most of the parents are either skeptical or not on board with this idea. However, Cayla Bernstein was fond of the plan to diversify schools in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. “I think it’s great that NYC is actually taking action to make high schools more diverse, accepting, and unique,” said Cayla Bernstein’18.
Mr. Eugene Resnick believes in order for a change to occur both the school faculty and parents need to come into an agreement. He stated,“School have to start bringing in more kids who are different. They have to reach middle schools and think about the freshman class and the make-up of it. Parents also need to help in order to make this happen,”
Students who don’t experience a diverse environment often have a hard time readjusting as they get older.
“No diversity is a dilemma. Schools especially Midwood has benefitted because different perspectives are presented everyday. Everyone has different thoughts and we grow from these experiences,” stated Simon Abramov’17.