• Looking Back, Looking Forward at Ben Franklin

    by Destiny Watford
    The renovated front entrance to the school.  Benjamin Franklin High School (BFHS) has been around since 1926. There have been a variety of changes to the school and the community that surrounds it through its long history.
    BFHS is located in the Brooklyn-Curtis Bay area, a community that has struggled with gang violence, teen pregnancy, and drugs.  However, BFHS renovations in 2011 have seemed to leverage important changes to the school and community.  Recently, several former Ben Franklin students shared their thoughts on the new Ben Franklin and their hope for the future.

    “I don’t know what happened to Ben,” said Benjamin Franklin graduate, class of 1998, Lattea Kelly. “But whatever they’re doing down there is working,” she smiled. “Kids seem to have more hope for the future now than they did when I was in school,” she said.  She also shared that when she was a student at Ben the children were very rowdy and ran around in hallways during class. She was thrilled to know to know that hallways are clear when class is in session.  

    Love Mural “Oh my god,” Latasha Chase, 2004 graduate, laughed when shown pictures of the library and gym renovations. “It’s gorgeous. When I went to Ben, the school looked older than it actually was. Like it was built in the 1800’s or something,” she said. “If I went to a school like this, I would try harder to achieve too. No wonder the kids have a new mindset. “  

    Chase said that when she attended Ben, the students were irritable and angry all the time. “I think it was because we didn’t want to be there,” she said. “We had to be there, we knew that. But we hated every moment of it. If we worked in a clean, can-do environment, we would have worked harder.”

    Renovated entryway to the Library Kelly summed up well the feeling of hope that seems to be growing among residents living near the school: “God, you have no idea how happy I am,” she said. “I have two children and I was terrified that they would be growing up in Brooklyn. I even considered moving…but then Brooklyn changed.”