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July 4th, 2010

Smartmom Opens the Bible – The High School Bible, That Is

The Oh So Feisty One came home from school the other day with “The Bible,”

No, not that bible.

OSFO came home with a doorstop of a book called Directory of the New York City Public High Schools 2010–2011, which is the so-called Bible of the high school admissions process that awaits OSFO and her family next fall.

The poor girl was bent over from the weight of that thing in her backpack. But her cheeks were flushed and she seemed to be in a great mood.

“We got the book today,” she told Smartmom excitedly as she came in the front door.

With the book in hand, OSFO seemed willing to face the fact that she’s a hop, skip and a jump away from high school. While she be willing to face it, Smartmom is having a harder time.

High school. Can you believe?

That’s a major milestone in life, and Smartmom can hardly fathom that her girl is actually that old.

Where did the time go? Is this the little girl I carried? Sunrise? Sunset?

It would be easy to get all misty eyed and sentimental about the whole thing. But there’s no time for that because Smartmom needs all her energy and her wits about her to deal with what is sure to be an incredibly difficult, “only in New York City” kind of process.

Indeed, much of OSFO’s eighth-grade year will be spent touring schools, auditioning, studying for tests, preparing portfolios, filling out applications, and waiting to hear what school she’ll be going to.

As “The Bible” says: “Eighth grade is an exciting time. As a student and applicant in New York, you have more high school options available to you than if you lived in any other city in the world!”

Smartmom read those words and sighed. Deeply. While it’s great that there are so many high school choices, she sometimes wishes there was just a good, zoned high school that her daughter could go to in the neighborhood. Isn’t that the way it is in most of America?

Only in New York is the high school application process more complicated, more laborious and even more stressful than getting into college. Joyce Szuflita, who runs NYC School Help, a service for Brooklyn parents, said at a recent high school workshop for parents at OSFO’s school:

“After this, getting your kids into college will seem EASY.”

Smartmom knows how true that is. She’s been through the process once already with Teen Spirit and she still has mild post-traumatic-stress.

Not to mention her post-traumatic stress from the middle school application process she went through just three years ago with OSFO. In case you’ve forgotten, OSFO was magically disappeared from the Department of Education computer and never received an admissions letter. As far as the city was concerned she didn’t exist.

That was pretty dispiriting, but OSFO managed to get into a great middle school and, well, the rest is history.

Buddha knows, she’s glad that OSFO is excited about this major transition in her life and she’s been studying “The Bible” carefully and learning about all the high schools that are out there.

And there’s so much to read about: Edward R. Murrow, Midwood, Brooklyn Tech, Brooklyn Latin, Bard 1, Bard 2, Frank Sinatra, Frank McCourt, Laguardia, Beacon, Telecommunications to name just a few …

Smartmom, Hepcat and OSFO are going to be looking at a lot of high schools next year. Because it’s so competitive, students are required to select 12 schools to which they’d be willing to go. That’s pretty tough if your kid gets her heart set on one or two schools. But as Szuflita said at the workshop, “You need to be comfortable with every school on your list because you never know. And you don’t want any surprises.”

Wise words. But it’s not easy to visit 12 schools, let alone pick 12 schools that OSFO would want to go to.

Well, they did it once for Teen Spirit, and now it’s OSFO’s turn to make some important choices in her life. For now, they’ve got The Bible and they’ve got all summer to read it.

It sure to be pretty dog-eared by next fall. But that’s okay. They’re going to get through this together and Smartmom can hardly wait to begin. Not.

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