Students, parents, faculty and alumni gathered in the cafeteria for the school’s first open house for current BSGE 7th and 8th graders on November 10th. That evening, teachers and alumni from the school spoke to 7th and 8th grade students and their families about the school, the IB program, and why they should consider staying at BSGE for high school instead of transferring.
Every fall, middle school families begin to think about applying to high schools. Open houses are conducted in other high schools for students and parents to learn about what they have to offer. This is not something BSGE has done prior to this school year. “What ends up happening is parents get a lot of information about other schools and are not getting information about our high school,” explained the guidance counselor, Timothy David Lang.
This night was a chance to speak to current 7th and 8th grade parents about the high school program here at BSGE. In the front of the cafeteria stood a panel of speakers, consisting of current BSGE students, alumni, IB coordinator Jennifer Dikes, Tim David Lang, and college counselor Peter Wilson.
Alumni stood and described their overall individual experience at BSGE, how it compared to what they had heard about other schools in New York City, and why they decided to stay in BSGE after 8th grade. “I liked how they had their own personal and practical experiences to relay,” Tim said. “It’s a different thing when a student graduates within the last several years and they are in college or they have a job. They can talk much more specifically about their experiences. So I think that’s meaningful in a unique way.”
The main difference between BSGE and other New York City high schools such as Stuyvesant or Townsend Harris is that BSGE is an IB school, where all students are enrolled in or are in preparation for the IB diploma program. Students in other high schools mainly take AP classes.
Some parents expressed confusion about the difference between AP and IB prior to attending the open house. AP is a series of classes while IB is an entire program. In schools that offer AP, students can advance in certain subjects and not advance in others, giving them more choice in their classes. On the other hand, IB students have to take advanced classes in all subjects, in order for their learning to be more structured and balanced. This challenges students and encourages them to step out of their comfort zones.
In general, students and parents found the open house night beneficial as they felt that they’ve learned a lot about BSGE as a high school. “Many people were there and it was very informational in terms of how the school presented itself,” commented Scott Siegel ’20. “I also got to gain a new perspective on what BSGE is as a high school, in addition to what I’ve experienced in past years.”
On what her parents thought of the open house, Aoife Kenny ‘20 said, “My mom was very influenced by the presentation and is trying to convince me to consider staying here, as a result of that night.”
BSGE hopes the open house will persuade more families to have their children stay here for high school. Aoife adds, “before the presentations, I was kind of adamant about leaving but after that evening, there is definitely a higher chance of deciding to stay here.”