As Science Leadership moved into the building of Ben Franklin High school in 2018, both expected and unexpected difficulties arose. First, dangerous asbestos pushed us out of the building, and then COVID pushed us onto Zoom. .
As SLA spent the majority of the year online, the student body was not able to connect with the students at Ben Franklin. And now, Because of a dividing glass wall that splits the two schools, there is still not much of an opportunity for the two student bodies to interact.
The SLA chapter of the National Honor Society would like to see that change, and discussed the issue at length at their recent meeting..
At the recent NHS meeting, there was a huge urge to make a positive connection with the conjoining of these two schools. Students like Paula Vekker, a senior at SLA, and Vice President of the schools National Honors Society, makes it clear that these schools are very divided.
“I believe the divide between Benjamin Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy is one rooted within the misunderstandings and stereotypes of each other’s livelihoods, as we have been pinned against each other due to the continuation of a narrative that we are just too different to connect and come together as a whole community,” she stated.
“But class, income, and race will not be the primarily defining fates of our schools’ relationships. As we continue to remind ourselves that each and every student on each side of the wall are human beings with passions and a will to learn.”
In light of a recent event, tensions may be rising. Shortly after 9 am on Thursday december 2nd, both schools went into lockdown. The students were told by principal Lehman that a student from Ben franklin had been arrested for a potential robbery and police were in the building. The lockdown lasted until 11:45, where principal Lehman announced a modified schedule for lunch. Many peers have brought this up as being a Ben Franklin issue. They believe that their students are responsible for the tension that is now current in this building.
Lucy Silverman, treasurer of National Honors Society says, “I think right now we are at an awkward stage. I think that building a relationship with them will take many many years.”
“I have heard some discouraging words and maybe with time, we can reach out more and work on our positive relationship, especially for the grades below us.”
As for potential solutions, Vekker saw the divide as being a practical one.
“SLA and Ben Franklin share no classes together. There is no common space to collaborate and students believe that this is part of the issue.”
Avery Buglione, member of National Honors Society thinks about her time at the old building,
“I honestly think that our relationship has gotten worse since being told by the schools we have to change stairwells because of how the kids are interacting between classes. It’s really sad how far both schools have come just to be what feels like strangers in the same room.”
If these two schools are going to mend their relationship, it needs to start with the administrators, meaning the principals on both sides. Students can only do so much. SLA seniors in the National Honors Society have a plan to create a social atmosphere where the two schools can live in peace and collaboratively work together. We don’t know when this will happen, but it is going to take time. Time is what can mend these kids and these schools.