REPORTER (Narration): My school is known for all the wrong reasons. People assume that because it’s across the street from the projects, that it’s a really bad place.
STUDENT: It’s not what you hear. It’s what you walk by and see every day. If you go into the park you’ll see stuff. You see drunk people, you see people smoking weed, you see people shooting up.
REPORTER (Narration): That’s a kid I know from my neighborhood. He didn’t want to go to my school, which is only three blocks away from his house, because of the rumors. Instead he chose to go to a school which is a forty minute walk away.
Ten years ago my high school was rated one of the twelve most dangerous in New York City. Back when I was in junior high I heard it was still like that, that people got stabbed, jumped, even killed. It sounded more like I was going to jail instead of a school. Now that I graduated I see the school as a safer place. But I wasn’t sure if the school actually was safer or because I’m older now I know how to defend myself.
REPORTER (Narration): Sophie has run the bagel shop across the street from the school for 14 years. She didn’t want to give me her last name. She’s always arguing with the kids.
SOPHIE: The bad ones call me names, stealing a lot of my sodas and stand in front of my store selling drugs.
REPORTER (Narration): She thinks it’s getting worse.
SOPHIE: Cause years ago I see a lot of kids. We’re talking nice in nice dressing. Pero now is sloppy dressing. And the girls with all your boobies out. This is no come to school with your boobies out.
REPORTER (Narration): What Sophie thinks about the school is wrong. Although kids may wear less clothing now that doesn’t mean that they’re criminals. The school report card from the Department of Ed. shows that Bryant has gotten safer over the last ten years. And it’s now less dangerous then the average city high school.
(School hallway ambience)
The deans in my school like Mr. Raplh Montalvo do a pretty good job in keeping the school safe.
MR. MONTALVO: Most of the instances that occur here at Bryant High School can be considered relatively minor. Students that are sent to the Dean's office for maybe not taking off a hat, or maybe for a walkman in a hallway. So on and so forth. And everything gets reported. Maybe yeah we had some, quite a number of infractions. However, they were relatively minor in comparison to other schools.
REPORTER (Narration): Overall I agree with what Mr. Montalvo said. The Department of Ed says that there were zero property crimes in the 2004-05 school year. That was my junior year. That means nothing was stolen and that nobody got robbed.
REPORTER (Narration): I didn’t think things would be any different my senior year, but right in the middle of doing this story I found out that I was wrong.
REPORTER (on tape): But so yeah man, why’d you take my mic and my bag? THIEF: I was gonna sell it. REPORTER: You were gonna sell it? THIEF: Yeah REPORTER: How much money do you think you’d have gotten for it? THIEF: I don’t know. Just woulda went around seeing if people would buy it.
REPORTER (Narration): I got robbed? Here I am covering a story on crime and this happens to me? I decided not to tell anyone at school because they would take forever to get my mic replaced. I know that’s one crime that won’t show up on the school report card. Luckily I found the kid. He told me that after he took my stuff someone else knocked it out of his hands and he lost it. I didn’t really care. And I told him he needed to pay me back. And surprisingly enough he did.
REPORTER (tape): So like I guess you had like the resources I guess to pay me my money. REPORTER: Yeah I would just say resources. Like, I’m gonna tell you honestly, I stole most of that money. REPORTER: From who? THIEF: Some drunk guy at a party. He got drunk, he was messing with my friends. And as soon as he got drunk and he went down on the floor we – I took his wallet. REPORTER: Oh yeah, so that’s how you got most of the money? THIEF: Yup. REPORTER: Simple as that right? THIEF: Simple as that.
REPORTER (Narration): Yeah - I got robbed while doing a story on school crime. And because I made the thief pay me back he says he committed another crime. And I don’t think he’s lying. But I still don’t think my school is dangerous and a lot of the kids I talked to agree. I know there are crimes out there that don’t get reported, like what happened to me. But I don’t think they happen everyday. Bryant has a really bad rep. and reputations are like scars. They can be ugly and take a long time to fade away. Depending on who you talk to you’ll hear different opinions, but if you ask me, I still think Bryant is a safe school. For WNYC I’m Rookie Reporter Edward Llanos.