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Date posted:01-17-02:

Moving Into A Small Paradise

by Thomas Slater


Thurgood Marshall Academy, located on 135th and St. Nick Avenue, a school for learning and social change, has received an unexpected early Christmas present from the Board of Education. By this time 2003, Thurgood Marshall Academy will be getting a new building. Yea and what’s the big deal? The deal is it will be replacing the old building of the famous night club Smalls Paradise. Why did this school get picked for it and not another? In the past 7 years I’ve been at this school I have seen major improvements from all types of areas.

When I first came to the school back in 1995, it was anything but safe. The security level was low; you could bring guns, knives, or any other concealed weapon to the school and didn’t have to worry about getting caught. You could get robbed in the back stair cases or even in classrooms. I was scared everyday I went to school. The very next year we had a new principal Dr. Sandye Johnson. She promised a change in our school and that it would be heading in a positive direction as long as she was in charge. That year security measures were updated and more successful. There were x-ray machines, and metal detectors installed as soon as you walk in the building. Security waltz around the hallways on every floor and staircase. That year was dedicated just to making the school safe and it worked thanks to Dr. Johnson.

The very next year 1997 the school was still tight on security but there was a new focus, education. Dr. Johnson now wanted an educated school and she knew that from her own words “if you want something you have to work hard to get it”. She created an event that still goes on today called the Thurgie Awards. It’s like the Oscars of education. Those who have the grade requirements would be selected to come to the event at City College and receive their awards in an Oscar like fashion. This gave students the motivation to do work and study hard to get those awards. I was one of them. That year I got 3 awards for Communication Arts, Reading, and Social Studies. That was the year the school was recognized for the improvement it made in just 2 years.

In 1998, Dr. Johnson told the school that we could get a new building if we maintained our academic performance we did the year before. We needed a new building because our school was quite small at the time and the building we were in was big, so we shared it with another school, Project Pride. TMA and PP didn’t work together on getting the new building. It was mostly a TMA plan. The performance was excellent from the school but the financial area wasn’t. We couldn’t get the building.

1999 was the year of relaxing and visualizing. We went on trips to different locations and different events. We had ski trips and trips and college tours. Most teachers would say that the school has come a long way from its old days back in 1995 and 96. Ms. Horne who is the H.S. Global History & Economics teacher and who has been with the school for six years, said “When I first came to Thurgood Marshall is was like a zoo. Everyone running wild not caring, kids asking me to help them hide things, it was crazy. When Dr. Johnson came things were safer and much more productive. Now we don’t even need Security systems because she knows all the students who attend her school like the back of her hand. If your principal knows every students name like if there her own, then you have a great principal”.

2000 was a year of college concentration. She wanted to make sure seniors got into the best colleges available. She wanted to show the Board of Education that her students qualified to get into great colleges and that we really deserved a building of our own instead of sharing with current school Bread & Roses. After that years was over students would say that Dr. Johnson does work hard for the school and cares about every single one of her students who attend. Jerome Williams said “I used to think that our principal wasn’t doing anything for the school because we rarely saw her and she was not around the school a lot. Then I realized she was always trying to get the school more opportunities to do things. Better building, books, tables, supplies, and just wanted the best for out school.”

In September 2001, Dr. Sandye Johnson told the school that they will finally be getting a new building and if everything goes as planned they should be finished constructing by January 2003 and will be ready for the new school year that September. All the hard work has paid off. The school plans look great, and Dr. Johnson couldn’t be more pleased. The new Building will be located where the famous night club Smalls Paradises was located on 135th St. and 7 Ave.

I won't be around to be in the new building since this is my last year at the school, but I hope all the staff members, students, and parents enjoy the new building that our school has struggled for, for the last 5 years.



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