Give us the chance to rebuild

Give us the chance to rebuild

Metro is really the least superficial school in the world. The kids are mostly all chill and down to earth. Money gives no status. Everyone is OK with everyone. And it’s like that nowhere else." These words, from another senior at Metropolitan Schechter High School, struck a chord within me. This close-knit Schechter community has remained constant throughout my four years at the school. It is, however, important to distinguish between Schechter Regional High School, which was an outstanding school for three years, and Metropolitan Schechter, which is in danger of closing.

At Schechter Regional, there were ‘0 kids in my freshman class, which three years ago made up the whole school. Freshman year was hard. My friend Laurie and I would bike home from school, sit outside her house, and talk endlessly about leaving the school, about transferring. Although I was getting an incredible education, reading books from "Catch-”" to "The Aeneid" and studying Jewish texts on a level equivalent to seminary students, I couldn’t get over the smallness of the school and the limitations that led to. I had long talks with faculty members who truly wanted me to stay. It felt good to be needed. And I didn’t feel ready to say good-bye. I still had more to learn — so I stayed.

Sophomore year was better. Over the summer I made the decision to like the school. This was one of the best things I ever did. I became involved with drama and newspaper, and threw myself into sports and student government. I even ran for town moderator — and won. Every door was open to me and everyone in the school was rooting for me. It was an amazing feeling. Everything fell into place. My eyes opened to the limitless opportunities a place like Schechter could afford a scholar, a leader, and a Jew. I was content and felt like I belonged.

Junior year felt like the climax of the upward rise of Schechter Regional High School. Everything was in place, and I really thought that our greatest hardships were behind us; we were a success. The students at the school were happy and telling other kids to come. I thought that once my grade would get into good colleges, the community would officially recognize and embrace my school. I was wrong.

Last April, the merger with Solomon Schechter High School of New York was announced. It happened quickly, and no one knew how big the fallout would be. The Manhattan and Jersey kids got along well, but we weren’t the problem. The school was not the school I had grown to love. The academics were no longer stimulating, and there was a lack of respect toward the school. Now, eight months later, without warning, we’ve been told that the school is in danger of closing. Last year, my school was thriving. Now it can barely stay afloat.

I don’t know if Metropolitan Schechter will make it. Money makes the world go round, and for some reason, no one is giving us any. At Monday night’s emergency meeting, rabbis and parents pledged to support the school, both personally and financially. I hope that they meant it, because otherwise we will not make it. We need a few years to start over — to return to what each of the schools was built upon. Each school, each institution, had its own magic. But together, this year, somehow we’ve been less. I know that our school can be great, greater than the sum of its two parts. It is, after all, harder to rebuild than it is to start from scratch.

All kids looking for a Conservative Jewish school in Bergen County should go to Metro, and the students already there should band together and decide to stay and make it work. But it’s May already, and the future of Metro is unclear. When Regional was opening, the PowerPoint presentation by Jay Dewey, the director, and Rhonda Rosenheck, the principal, was enough to inspire people to believe in this school that did not yet exist. Now students are complaining about this tumultuous year, and there is less motivation for kids to come or to stay. There are no promises being made; the school could shut down next year or the next. On the other hand, the board can’t guarantee a school if no kids are coming. It’s a Catch-”, and a maddening one too.

I’m a senior now. Sometimes I drive Laurie home, and we just sit outside her house talking. It’s all good stuff now, memories and friends and teachers. We talk about how sad we are that the school may close. It’s amazing how time and perspective makes everything clear. This school is like my child. I molded it and loved it. And now I’m powerless to save it.