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Voices from the 2013 high school search: Benny Joo

Kristin Joo and her son Benny moved to New York about eight years ago from Kansas, where the school selection process was far more limited and simplified. Most kids simply went to their neighborhood schools.

But at the Manhattan high school fair last weekend, both mother and son welcomed the chance to examine the smorgasbord of high school options in New York. They agreed that going to a school that has a particular focus might help Benny get a head start on adult life.

“It’s nice that they’re having more schools with specializations. When the curriculum is too broad, young adults come out with no idea what they want to do,” Kristin Joo said.

As far as a niche for himself, Benny is honing in on the financial world. “I’m wanting to go into business, kind of. I like doing math,” he said while fiddling with his skateboard.

“It’s a process. You have to make sure your No. 1 school isn’t necessarily just your favorite. It has to be something you can realistically get into,” said Kristin Joo, who knows how the system works after placing two of Benny’s older siblings in New York City high schools. Her daughter is a senior at the selective Professional Performing Arts School, where she studies dance. Her older son is a sophomore at Frank McCourt High School, a newer school on the Brandeis Educational Campus. “Both schools have proved to be good matches for them.” she said.

“It’s kind of stressful, I guess,” said Benny.

But his mother said she is not worried. “I don’t drive myself crazy because it will all work out,” she said. “Benny is good at talking to and working with people. If you know your kid well enough, you know they’re going to adapt.”

Oresti Tsonopoulos is a student at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

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