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Guest Opinion: For Boys and Girls in Brooklyn, a Viable Choice in Bed-Stuy

By Assembly Member Walter Mosley (57th AD)

Boys and Girls High School was created in 1878 and courted controversy from its inception since it was considered inappropriate to provide free high school education to all students, including low-income students. The school was originally named Central Grammar School to avoid angering community members. Even in 1878, providing free high-quality education to low-income children invited scorn, so the school didn’t advertise that it was free in its name.

Without a reputation or track record, the lure of free education drew countless students, and in 1886, a second school was built. Boys were taught in one school and girls in the other. In 1975, the schools merged and moved to their current location on Fulton Street and Utica Avenue. Subsequent principals continued the original mission of Boys and Girls High School: creating college preparatory programs and other opportunities for students from all backgrounds.

While the name has changed, the tradition of providing high-quality education for passionate students has not. Shirley Chisholm, Lena Horne and Rita Hayworth are just some of the incredibly talented individuals who benefited from the world-class education at Boys and Girls High, and the legacy of top-tier education lives on.

Boys and Girls High School is one of the leaders in Brooklyn when it comes to STEAM education, or science, technology, engineering and applied mathematics. It is no secret that students will need technology skills to succeed in the modern global economy, and it is necessary that high schools provide this type of education. Boys and Girls High School is providing laptops, SmartBoards, iPads and desktops for students and creating career and technical education programs in computer technology and electrical engineering.

In addition, Boys and Girls High School offers several paths towards academic success. With over 18 Advance Placement classes, and an early college program with Long Island University, Boys and Girls High School has a high-quality college prep program in our backyard. Combined with their modern facilities and varsity sports teams, it is surprising that enrollment is low at Boys and Girls High School. Under the new principal, Ms. Grecian Harrison, Boys and Girls High School is entering a new era. With more investment in students and a focus on college readiness, the school will only improve, sending even more students in our city to colleges and universities throughout the country.

While parents are increasingly sending their children to charter and private schools, we cannot overlook the services that our borough’s oldest public high school has to offer. Boys and Girls High School has worked hard to become a modern campus, with many of the same opportunities as other expensive schools. We should be proud to have such a historic school in our community. It is my sincerest hope that parents will begin to take advantage of this educational opportunity and build upon the great legacy of Boys and Girls High School.

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