As Kennedy High School is fragmented, students strive for unity
By Shant Shahrigian
As John F. Kennedy High School enters its last year of existence, a group of seniors is working to build a legacy of unifying the student bodies from all the schools on their shared campus.
The Department of Education moved to phase out Kennedy High School in 2010 after years of low graduation rates and safety problems.
In the meantime, students in Principal Lisa Luft’s leadership class said there is traditionally little collaboration between the eight high schools situated on the JFK campus. With the exception of sports, in which teams cull players from all the schools, each institution primarily operates independently.
Ms. Luft’s students develop leadership skills by organizing events such as homecoming, spirit week and a breast cancer walk.
On Monday morning, the JFK principal’s class described how they plan to involve students from other schools in their projects.
“It’s sad that we’re leaving, but it’s also kind of good because we get to go out with a bang,” said Christopher Frias, 17. “No other Kennedy senior class has had a homecoming with the whole school. We’re doing things that never got to be done before.”
Michelle Gutierrez, 17, is directing the homecoming arrangements. She said in previous years, her school was the only one on the JFK campus to hold a homecoming, with students from other institutions casually attending. But this time, she has found one representative from each other school on the campus to work on an event open to all. “It was fun interacting with different students you don’t see every day,” she said of her meetings so far.
Other students in Ms. Luft’s class are organizing a spirit week for the entire campus. They plan to divide the week leading up to homecoming into days with special themes for costumes, such as a 90s-themed day.
Working beyond the scope of their own school creates a number of challenges for the leadership class. For instance, the two charter schools on the JFK campus require students to wear uniforms.
KeywordsJohn F. Kennedy High School, leadership class, Principal Lisa Luft, Christopher Frias, Michelle Gutierrez, Anthony Cruz, Shant Shahrigian,