the stuy, the flea, and related matters

When I applied to Stuyvesant High School, as far as I can remember, it was all boys.

The test was for all three New York City high schools that specialized in math and science (Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech). Having passed the test — about which I remember absolutely nothing — I could have gone to Bronx Science (co-ed), or one of the other two (all boys). I suspect that my preference for the Stuy was geographical. Other than one trip to the Bronx Zoo, many years before, I had never been to the Bronx, and the few times I’d been to Brooklyn it had proved to be very far away.

The Stuy was in Manhattan, in a neighborhood that I knew.

At some point after I took the test, it was announced that girls would now be admitted to the school. This was not surprising to me — many organizations which restricted their memberships in various ways were making these sorts of decisions at that time.

It’s interesting now to read about how it actually happened: “How a Thirteen-Year-Old Girl Smashed the Gender Divide in American High Schools

My sense at the time that “this is the sort of thing that happens,” as opposed to “this is the sort of thing that can happen when people raise a ruckus” may be connected to the fact that the girl who initiated the ruckus didn’t end up attending the school (if she had, somebody would probably have pointed her out at some point).

The first year was a little odd — a small squad of girls embedded behind enemy lines with an approximately infinite number of boys — but after that it was just a regular co-ed school.

Looking back now, the thing that really puzzles me is why I was attending a school focused on math and science in the first place.

In other news, I’m very much enjoying re-reading the Henry James novella The Aspern Papers. I started it because I read a review of the current adaptation.

I’ve given up on actually seeing the adaptations, as I have talked about before. As I said then:

…adapting Henry James for the screen is a sucker’s game. There is no substitute for that authorial voice, and showing the plain events of the story without it is pointless.

So, when a new adaptation comes out, I re-read the story instead.

In this case, the story is particularly pertinent to this moment, because, to quote the New Yorker review linked to above:

What James delivered, in 1888, was not some dusty antiquarian fable but a warning call against the cult of celebrity that was already on the rise, and against the modern insistence that artists and writers can—or should—be prized out of their work like cockles from a shell, for public consumption.

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