By Richard Jones
The road to success has been a long one, but also a steady one for the “High.” Boys and Girls High School (BGHS) has had an historic legacy in sports, academics and career development. Despite its setbacks in recent memory, many of the remarkable men and women who have graced the halls of the “High,” its alumni, parents and supporters in civic, business and the arts have continued to support the school and its progress toward excellence. We are thrilled, delighted and grateful that their persistence, determination and faith have resulted in its reemergence as a “school of distinction.”
It is no wonder that during this “springtime,” community leaders, elected officials, teachers, parents and students will celebrate the “Return to Academic Excellence” for BGHS. It will be a festive and informative celebration considering that only three years ago it was designated as one of the mayor’s and DOE “Renewal Schools” and expected not to reach the necessary benchmarks to avoid “Receivership Status” by the New York State Education Department.
Due to the academic leadership and dedicated work of its Principal, Ms. Grecian-Harrison Walker, and former Principals, Dr. Michael Wiltshire and Bernard Gassaway, the commitment, devotion and tenacity of the teachers and staff to ensure our youth were provided with the educational and career skills for success and the ongoing faith and involvement of parents, Boys and Girls High School exceeded every benchmark and every expectation. This posed a daunting challenge, but through the commitment and dedication of the team of educators who viewed our children as their children, BGHS has exceeded expectations and exceeded the state-mandated benchmarks in graduation rates, math and English Regents pass rates, the School Safety Index, the Student College Readiness Index and many more. Moreover, its daily attendance rate is over 82% (the highest in 7 years). Furthermore, it offers the highest number of AP courses it has ever provided, and its passing rate has increased 100% since 2015.
The school is especially proud of its graduation rate of over 70%; three years ago, it was 40%. We witnessed last spring, handsome and beautiful young men and women receive their diplomas, providing yet another example and opportunity to realize that our children are brilliant, fearless and capable of overcoming all of the obstacles that life presents when academic quality is at its best and the environment is safe and conducive to learning.
These remarkable advances and accomplishments have come in recent years due to an extraordinary leader, a committed staff and faithful parents. The Principal, Grecian-Harrison Walker, has worked with teachers and community stakeholders to foster the belief that they have the power to collectively strengthen the educational and cultural conditions that support students. These efforts have influenced students’ academic achievement, attitudes toward learning, self-efficacy and entrepreneurial skills. She has introduced “Keeping It 100” to inspire students to do their best, and she has created and strengthened programs that have multiple pathways for engagement of students in the learning process and that inspire them to take ownership of their future and the demands of the 21st century. These programs reflect an increase in academic programs such as: Advance Placement courses, Blended Online courses, College courses, College Now, Success Mentoring Programs, College Tours and Career Trips, Regents Boot Camp and Regents Prep. Other programs that have had a tremendous impact on the “High’s” return to prominence are the Parent Advocacy Academy, Family Welcome Center, College and Career Advisement, Career and Technical (CTE) Programs in Electrical Installation, Architectural Drafting, Computer Programming, Theater Arts and the Good Shepherds’ Counseling and Coaching programs.
Additionally, parent and community partnerships continue to remind many of the relationships that Dr. Frank Mickens garnered during his time at the helm of the “High.” Relationships with community and elected officials provided opportunities in the theater, in business, corporate internships and community development projects. The school is proud of its relationships with the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Manhattan Theater Club, Brooklyn Nets, Brooklyn’s Restoration Corporation, Boys and Girls Club, Adelaide Sanford Institute, Brooklyn Policy Group, Community Engagement Team, Advisory Board, and local colleges and universities, all of which have played a vital part in the school’s resurgence to prominence.
Finally, Boys and Girls High School (“The High”) is our Community School with a history that differs not from the struggles of Africans throughout history. Progress may sometimes falter, but when a people is determined and committed to struggle, it is not long before prominence reemerges.
Principal Walker and her team of educators and community leaders have done a remarkable job in reestablishing Boys and Girls High School to prominence and in engaging and challenging our youth in academic, career and extracurricular experiences that will benefit them through life’s journey.
Come out to celebrate our school’s “Return to Academic Excellence” and congratulate the educators, parents and community stakeholders committed to our children on Thursday, April 11th at Boys and Girls High School at 6pm, 1700 Fulton Street near Utica and Stuyvesant Aves.