Smartmom opens up the bible — the high school bible, that is

for The Brooklyn Paper
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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.

Louise Crawford, a Park Slope mom, also operates “Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.”
Updated 5:19 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Local High School Pro from Midwood says:
What happened to the good old days when we attended the high school in our own neighborhood. Or at a minimum tested for places like Brooklyn Tech or Styvesant. Those with some money and strong religious beliefs signed their kids up at Private Schools. This whole High School review process is so Park Slopey--those who feel they are "better than..cooler than" their Brooklyn neighbors. Believe me, there are no entitlements in life...and this whole High School shopping is not about education--its about their parents comparing notes over lattes' at some coffee bar. Get real--
June 29, 2010, 5:47 am
Pat from Sunset says:
Why does every single one of your articles begin with you being unable to accept how old you are?

Do you not own a mirror? Look at the wrinkles - you're old. Maybe that's why your writting is so out of touch with reality.
June 29, 2010, 5:22 pm
Susan Levy from Sheepshead Bay says:
Everything old is new again! When my parents were teenagers in the 1930s, people chose their high schools; my mom and her siblings attended different schools--3 schools in the same family. When I was a teenager in the mid-1960s, you were stuck with your zoned school unless you got into one of the exam schools (Brooklyn Tech, Performing Arts, etc.) or wanted to take something not offered by your zoned school (one of my sisters got into a school other than our zoned one by picking German as her foreign language). Now we're back to choosing schools. Life in this city really IS a circle game.
June 29, 2010, 5:37 pm
Susan Levy from Sheepshead Bay says:
Jake from Park Slope: that comment was totally inappropriate. We're talking about a 13-year-old girl deciding on high schools here.
June 30, 2010, 5:37 pm
Eddie from Slope says:
Pat from Sunset says: Why does every single one of your articles begin with you being unable to accept how old you are?
Oh no they don't. You either have a selective memory and-or don't like her stuff anyway (in which case, why bother reading it?)
July 3, 2010, 11:30 am
Dan from Harlem says:
I live in Harlem but I work in Brooklyn- Cobble Hill. I really enjoy your column and, in fact, I referred to it as FOTB at my daughter's wedding last month! Pat from Sunset needs to go soak her head and quit reading your story if it bothers her so much.

Keep up the enjoyable reflections and wonderful nicknames.
July 4, 2010, 9:16 pm
Charley from Park Slope says:
Yeah, that Pat should go suck an egg. Her sour grapes are just bitter fruit.

I love smart mom, and I really think - if you don't, then youdon't deserve to read her column.
The abbreviations are so witty - I mean she isn't called the "smart" mom for nothing. She has an enormous brain - how else could she develop a nickname so delightfully witty as "OSFO" or "NSFW"?

And Pat is nothing but a hater - and we hate haters!
July 5, 2010, 5:38 am
Disgusted from Park Slope says:
You people posting your incredibly inappropriate comments about sex are some seriously screwed-up nut jobs.

Hey Brooklyn Paper, how 'bout a little moderation of the comments?
July 8, 2010, 11:06 am
Ellie from Parkslope says:
Um, you DON'T have to put down 12 schools
Oct. 14, 2010, 6:47 pm

Comments closed.

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