|Obviously NOT (and yes, I know that whoever created this sticker could've used an editor!).|
As I sit here writing this, I'm feeling kind of numb. That's actually a good thing because the numbness dulls the heartache. Sometimes I wonder if I could sue Broward County Public Schools for rape, considering the number of times I've been screwed by them over the years. I never professed to be the greatest person in the world, but I don't think that I (or my kids) deserve the hand we've been dealt when it comes to being denied the chance of becoming "Golden Tornadoes." Some of you might be thinking, "She's just a sore loser. Big deal, so her kids didn't get into PBHS. Deal with it." But what you may not understand is, for me, it's personal.
|My mom's Pompano High Senior picture.|
|Rob's senior picture - PBHS c/o '82|
I attended 9th Grade at Pompano Beach High School, along with my cousin and many close friends (whom I have reconnected with, thanks to Facebook). I loved every minute of my Freshman year. I joined clubs, attended football games and other events. I was a good student, but I had fun too. It was everything I expected...kind of like a John Hughes movie. Little did I know that my high school experience was about to change dramatically...
|Memories from Freshman year|
So where did this leave the students? Well, they were divided among the three closest high schools. I was fortunate that my cousin and my very best friend were also zoned for the same school as I was, but high school was never the same. Although the school was excellent academically (it was an engineering magnet school) and I did get a good education, graduating third in my class, the social dynamics were vastly different than Pompano Beach High School had been. I never attended a single sporting event at the school, which was located in the middle of a rough neighborhood. The first week I had my car, a kid in the neighborhood threw a rock at it and busted the tail light. One of my friends was stopped by the police driving to school for a club event on a Saturday morning and questioned what she was doing in that neighborhood on a Saturday. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of friends who chose to go to that school and loved it as much as I had loved Pompano High, but it never felt like my high school and, honestly, I always felt that I was cheated out of that part of my life.
|No blue and gold tassel for me. :(|
As the years went by, another baby came into our family and we ended up moving from Lighthouse Point to Pompano Beach (actually, to the the same neighborhood where I had grown up). Fortunately (or so I thought), both of my children were excellent students, earning top grades and test scores. Although I knew that Pompano Beach High School was a magnet school, I believed that surely my kids would get in! They were hard-working, well-behaved kids who lived right in the city!
When it came time to apply for PBHS for Alana, I enclosed a letter with her application, detailing her family's history with the school and what a privilege it would be to continue that tradition. Two of her teachers also wrote letters of recommendation on her behalf. I thought for sure Alana would be a Tornado. In March of 2010, Alana's friends started receiving acceptance letters to PBHS, but no letter came for Alana. Surely there had to be a mistake. I'll never forget the Saturday afternoon the mailman brought the letter stating that Alana hadn't been accepted and was number four hundred (something) on the waiting list. All but three of her friends had gotten in, many of whom had lower GPAs and test scores, some of whom didn't even live in the city or who didn't attend public school in Broward County. Suddenly I felt like the blue and gold "Go Tornadoes" foam #1 hand that had been stored in my childhood closet all these years had put its index finger down and raised "tall man". I was stunned, disappointed, heartbroken, angry, bitter, frustrated - SO many emotions - none of them positive.
|Rob's and my PBHS yearbooks|
So, Alana ended up continuing the Communications/Broadcast Arts magnet program (from Pompano Beach Middle School) at Deerfield Beach High School. You know what? She LOVED it and never wanted to switch to Pompano. A few of her friends who had gotten into PBHS ended up switching schools (some to Deerfield!). Alana is now a Junior at DBHS, maintains a 4+ GPA is co-editor of the school newspaper and will be Editor-in-Chief next year. She is thriving, in spite of the curve ball she had been thrown.
This December, it was Chase's turn to apply. He really wanted to go to Pompano Beach High School. For convenience alone, it would have been awesome, but of course, I had other reasons for wanting him to go. Once again, I submitted his application once the magnet window opened. I even sent updated FCAT scores in December, as suggested by his magnet coordinator. A couple of weeks ago, Chase's friends started posting on social media about receiving their acceptance letters. Nothing arrived for Chase for several days. Can you say deja vu? I thought, "This cannot possibly be happening AGAIN!" But, it happened again. Chase did not "win the lottery." (He's too nice to say it, but I know that he secretly wishes he hadn't been born to Mrs. Friday the 13th.) There is no waiting list now. If spots open up, they hold another lottery. Delightful.
|The letter. :(|
When Chase returned to school this week, he learned that a lot of his friends are swimming in the wait pool with him. None of the three PBMS students who live on our street were accepted. One of them has a mother who graduated from PBHS and had a sister who would have been a Senior they year they closed it. She is also a teacher at Pompano Beach Elementary, which is right next door to the high school. I'm sure she's not too happy right now either. :( Most of Chase's friends who didn't get into Pompano are planning to continue the CBA Magnet at Deerfield, so at least he'll be in good company.
I think that what frustrates me the most is the fact that the whole process sends a glaring message about "leveling the playing field". Just because you work your butt off and are a good person who does the right thing doesn't give you any advantage over someone who works half as hard and just doesn't care. Hmmm...remind you of anything else? I truly believe that the school board should give first priority for Pompano Beach High School to good students who live in the city, THEN go to a lottery system for everyone else. As my father pointed out, the school board complains that they have no money because of all of the bussing. Well, DUH! How about letting kids attend the school closest to their homes? Nobody ever said that you had to be intelligent to work for the government, though.
I'll admit, there is still a part of me that is hoping for a miracle (I'm such a glutton for punishment), but I know that wherever my kids end up, they'll do fine. I believe that, like Alana, Chase will continue to do his very best, whether he is a Buck OR a Tornado!
With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy
With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy