Seeking a Match: Voices from the 2013 High School Search

Middle-schoolers and their parents packed the 2013 Brooklyn High School Fair to find a high school they could call home for the next four years.

By Brianna McGurran

Published in Gotham Schools, Oct. 21, 2013

Mark Watson

Mark-Watson1Photo by: Brianna McGurran

Mark Watson, 13, said he hopes next year to attend Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where his sister Amethyst is a senior.

He said his sister is helping him prepare for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test that determines whether students get into Brooklyn Tech, one of seven high schools to base admissions on the one-day exam.

“I think I might do pretty well on it,” Mark said.

Mark’s mother Maureen, a social worker, said she likes Brooklyn Tech because it is an easy commute from the family’s home in Flatbush. Mark’s other top-choice high schools are farther away from home.

“One of the high schools he likes is all the way on the other side of Brooklyn,” she said. The school, Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design, is off the L train.

Maureen said Williamsburg would be a long commute for Mark, a concern if he participates in after-school activities. “If he gets out at five, he might not be home until eight,” Maureen Watson said. “That’s weighing on our decision.”

Jelan Weekes

Jelan-Weekes1Photo by: Brianna McGurran

Jelan Weekes, 13, who attends Our Lady of Trust Catholic Academy in Canarsie, said at the Brooklyn High School Fair that she wants a high school that will provide a foundation for a career in either corporate law or business. But she has no idea what that school will be.

“I’m not sure yet,” she said. At the fair, she liked what she saw and heard about Brooklyn High School for Law and Technology in Bushwick.

Her father, Kirk Weekes, a project manager for J.P. Morgan, came to the fair with Jelan but said he was letting her run the show — so far — during the high school application process.

“We haven’t done any applications yet. Today is part of the process of deciding what high schools to apply to,” he said. “I’m trying not to push her until she learns about the possibilities.”

Kaitlyn Dormeus

Kaitlyn-Dormeus1Photo by: Brianna McGurran

The city’s Brooklyn Borough High School Fair took place at Edward R. Murrow High School in Midwood. Some students, like Kaitlyn Dormeus, 13, came away liking the host school best.

“I was excited about Edward R. Murrow. I really like the school, what it offers, the extracurricular activities,” she said.

Kaitlyn said she also likes the culinary arts program at John Dewey High School in Gravesend because she loves food. “I’d definitely pass that class,” she said.

Kaitlyn’s mother, Tricia Jones, said she is happy that Kaitlyn’s top-choice high schools are in lower-crime neighborhoods. “You want to be sure that when your kid leaves for school that they’re getting there safely,” she said.

Kaitlyn goes to the private Trey Whitfield School in East New York, but her mother said she would like for her daughter to go to a public high school. “We’re trying not to have her too sheltered,” she said.

Jones attended a public high school when she was a teenager. “I came through O.K.,” she said, adding that she is confident Kaitlyn will have a good high school experience — even though the application process is overwhelming. “If I can do it, and I didn’t have anyone to help me, then she can, too.”