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Class of 2011 alum Immanuel Kim has shared a letter he wrote to the faculty and staff of Townsend Harris. It can be read below:
To the Wonderful Faculty and Staff:
My name is Immanuel Kim, and I am a member of the graduating class of 2011. Having heard about the ongoing situation at Townsend Harris High School concerning Ms. Jahoda’s possible appointment as the permanent principal of our school, I wanted to take a moment to reach out to you all and ask for your help. Our class has been talking extensively about this situation, but I personally felt that this would not faze the school that I knew Townsend Harris to be: it is very difficult to ruin a school that has such strong, deep values as our school does. However, after hearing that some members of the faculty are contemplating leaving the school if Ms. Jahoda becomes the principal, I felt compelled to reach out to you and ask that you remain at Townsend Harris for the sake of our school and our students.
Although it has been half a decade since I graduated from the school, there is one thing from my high school experience that motivates and inspires me each day – you. High school is a tough time for everyone because that is when students – for better or for worse – discover so much about the world and themselves. This is when a student is most prone and vulnerable to external influences and internal conflicts. I, along with many of my friends, naturally went through this stage of our lives, but what kept us on the right track and gave us the support system we needed was your guidance and encouragement.
Yes, we gained a lot of substantive, academic knowledge at Townsend Harris, but that is not what makes Townsend Harris special. Townsend Harris has a special atmosphere of solidarity and collegiality. This school was a home away from home for many, and for some, probably the refuge they sought but could not find elsewhere. More importantly, this environment was built and maintained by none other than you. The smile you give to students who rush up to the sixth floor after running two miles for gym; the heart-to-heart conversations you hold with students who are concerned about their progress or lives; the hugs and high-fives you give to students who need the appreciation. You were our parents and guardians in school, and let me tell you, you did one hell of a job so far, and we sincerely thank you for it.
But Townsend Harris needs you now more than ever. Now is not the time to stop. Now is not the time for you to back down and turn away. Think of all the students who will be left behind when you turn away from them at this moment. You were my hope and inspiration; you are the reason I can support and encourage those around me when they need help; you are the reason I can proudly call myself a Harrisite who pledged to leave this city better than I found it. I can only hope that you will be such a person for our current students as well.
As bad as the situation may seem to be if Ms. Jahoda becomes the principal, what makes it worse is to leave our students without a shield to protect them from the very thing they fear. In fact, even if Ms. Jahoda were to become the principal, your presence and unwavering support for the students and community at Townsend Harris is what will mitigate – or possibly eliminate – any negativity from this situation and keep Townsend Harris the way we all remember it. You are and define Townsend Harris – as long as you stay and fight for the school, there is no principal who can undermine what our school stands for, and there is no student who will be deprived of the experience he or she deserves as a Harrisite. This is why I am asking that you remain in the school and stand behind the students at least until the storm passes. And with you standing guard, who knows? Maybe the storm will never even come to pass.
Class of 2011