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Two John Jay HS principals fire back at The Paper

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To the editor,

Nica Lalli’s column (“The Ghosts of John Jay,” Park Slope Edition, Feb. 10) pondered why the La Bruschetta pizzeria across the street from the school would hang a “No students allowed” sign on its door.

Lalli points to this sign as evidence that the “neighborhood’s sentiment toward the school and the students — you are not a part of our neighborhood — remains” even though the John Jay building has changed.

In the past couple of years, the three schools inside the John Jay building have made many changes in our efforts to improve the quality of education we provide our students. I am pleased that Lalli found our students’ work and its quality “inspiring.”

But I must vehemently disagree with her statement that our goal is “for John Jay to become an educational center that works for the people who live near it, rather than a dumping ground for the system’s worst students with only pockets of high-quality education.”

Our goal is to provide high-quality education to our students. Whether they live in Park Slope or the surrounding neighborhoods or surrounding boroughs, our students are not refuse to be dumped anywhere.

It is ironic that the exhibition Lalli attended explored the issues of gentrification and neighborhood change in Brooklyn when right across from the school hangs a sign that singles out for exclusion the predominantly black and Latino teenagers who attend the schools but don’t live in the neighborhood.

Lalli contends that the sign in the pizza parlor will surely come down when the student body at the schools live in the neighborhood. The sign needs to come down now. It’s not the ghosts of John Jay haunting us; it is the ghosts of Jim Crow.

Jill Bloomberg, Park Slope.

The writer is principal at the Secondary School for Research housed within the former John Jay High School building

Editor’s note: Lalli did not say she shared the pizzeria’s viewpoint, but merely tried to explain why Park Slope and the schools housed in the former John Jay HS building have a bad relationship. She also never professed to tell the schools what their mission should be, but merely stated that many in Park Slope hope that someday they can send their children to a vibrant, high-quality, community-minded local high school.

• • •

To the editor,

Nica Lalli’s column reflects the continuing ambiguous relationship the Park Slope community has with the schools located there. Build Stuyvesant and we will come, she says. Otherwise, she says, we are the trash heap of the borough.

Such black-and-white thinking — and it is black and white in more ways than one — does little to improve the situation. The fact is, my school is a popular choice. More than 1,400 students applied for admission to our ninth grade last year. We do have worthwhile programs and, believe it or not, a solid cadre of high-performing students.

Our debate team spent their winter break helping Habitat for Humanity rebuild New Orleans.

Any public high school in New York City has an impact on the surrounding neighborhood. Some shopowners want student business, and some don’t. That’s hardly the measure of a school. What counts is what goes on inside the building, and Lalli failed to find that out.

I appreciate every effort that community members have made to reach out to our building. We continue to work on making this school the best it can be.

Larry Woodbridge

The writer is principal of the Secondary School for Law, housed within the former John Jay HS building

‘What the’ headine?

To the editor,

I must complain about the headline you put on the last edition (“What the F,” Feb. 24). I mean, it’s an insult to people. What are you trying to do? Imagine kids walking into some place and seeing that headline.

The tone of The Brooklyn Paper is getting lower and lower, starting with that picture of the naked actress. We all thought that was as tasteless as you can get, but now you’ve topped yourself.

You have no idea the resentment the people in the Slope have for you.

Name withheld, Park Slope

Editor’s note: Funny, but we thought a story about the declining quality of F-train service would show that we’re fighting for the people of Park Slope, not against them.

Faces of Arabia

To the editor,

Dana Rubinstein’s recent story on a soon-to-be-opened Arabic public school (“Borough to get first Arabic PS,” Feb. 17), seems to be a bit confused (as many people are) about Muslims and Arabs. The story reported how “Muslim community leaders” are hailing the city’s decision to open the school.

While it’s not surprising that many Muslim people are glad to know about the school, why was there no mention of the many Arab Christians like myself who are just as excited about the new school? Many of us will want to send our children there, and indeed, many of us worked very hard alongside our Muslim neighbors to bring the school to Brooklyn.

Mentioning only Muslim leaders in the article perpetuates the confusion that many people feel about Arabs and Muslims.

Here’s a quick primer the subject of Arab versus Muslim:

Arabs can be Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Druze, though many belong to other, smaller sects as well.

Not all Muslims are Arabs, in fact the most populous Muslim country in the world is Indonesia, a non-Arab country.

By the way, the man after whom the school is named, Khalil Gibran, was (like most early Arab-immigrants to this country) a Christian. Dave Hall, Boerum Hill

Editor’s note: We, by no means, meant to slight any community, but merely quoted the best available sources on deadline.

Siren song

To the editor,

I would like to thank you for covering the current situation regarding the Bensonhurst Volunteer Ambulance Service (“Bensonhurst volunteer ambulance in last-ditch effort to survive,” Bay Ridge Edition, Feb. 17).

Thirty years ago, our founder, Eric Towse, saw the need for such a service in our community. Since then, members of this community have provided us with the financial support, and the organization’s membership has given its time and talent to make sure Eric’s vision did not go the way of many other local institutions.

True, some people — a very small number, I am happy to say — question the need for our continuing operation. Despite the great job that city Emergency Medical Services ambulances provide, demand for ambulance coverage in our area is so great that it quickly reduces the availability of city ambulances.

This is where a community-based organization such as the Bensonhurst Volunteer Ambulance Service can, and will, play a vital role. We must not forget that the strength of any community is the desire for its members to help each other in time of need. This is why we came into existence, and why we must try to keep the Bensonhurst Volunteer Ambulance Service a vital and active organization well into the future.

With the continued help and understanding of those we serve, we will not permanently fade from view.

Frank A. Morano, Bensonhurst

The writer is chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bensonhurst Volunteer Ambulance Service

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