to Establish an Explorer's Post
and Other School Business

(Recorded in 1979)

~ Introductory Text by John Sherin ~

Session 1 - THE FORUM was a weekly meeting of the entire school community held on Fridays. This particular session took place in a classroom of a wing in what had been the South School designated by the Board as an Annex in 1974. Their decision was made to ease High School overcrowding. Students occasionally videotaped activities as part of the instruction received in audio-visual classes in the Performing Arts Center. The battery-operated console TV equipment was cutting-edge and portable. It produced black-and-white images with audio on 3/4-inch reels later converted to cassettes and most recently to digital. While by today’s standards it was heavy and bulky, students were glad to have access because M-T was alone in having use of the equipment. It was granted as part of the school's initial request for materials covered under the start-up budget.

Today’s meeting was about voting to approve the creation of an Explorer's Post of the Boy Scouts of America at the school. A vote in favor covered the period from February 1st to the end of the 1979 school year and applied to every student – male and female – as well as all staff members at a cost per individual of $2.47 and $3.50, respectively.  The school would be protected by an insurance umbrella of $1,000,000 for field trips and free the district of liability in case of incident. Discussion was about the consequences of the vote. Staff participating included Milt, Vieda, Peter, Dennis and John. Also present were Janet, Mike, Chris and Brian, Donna, Ellie, Frank, Janet, Regina, Brenda, and a spokesperson from the insurance agency. Valentine cards providing a backdrop on the wall were from a previously conducted class exercise.

Session 2 - A ROLL CALL VOTE was taken, the results announced and acknowledged by all in attendance. It was agreed to designate the school an Explorer Post of the Boy Scouts of America whenever an announcement was made that school was officially out for the day. As part of our ritual we routinely celebrated the birthdays each week of those who were present. Everyone sang Happy Birthday as celebrants blew out their candle on an iced cupcake. Staff members adopted passive positions intended to encourage students to assume positions of leadership and provide responsible direction for the group. The 3-year-old daughter of a staff member felt sufficiently confident to perform in good voice and costume before the entire assembled school community. Smiling staff and secure students can be seen acknowledging the taping as the Forum proceeds and a request is heard asking for assistance with the task of recruiting future students from the high school. Without the encouragement and support of the district, the M-T School’s future was always dependent upon student recruitment efforts. A request for students to volunteer to facilitate future meetings of the Forum can also be heard.

Session 3 - THE PAST FEW DAYS' EVENTS are reported by Milt, including happenings at the Board of Education meeting of the night before. He promises to share with students and staff a recording he made of the threat by one particularly cantankerous member of the Board to close the school. He thanks the students and their parents who attended the public meeting of the Board of Education and attributes their presence to giving supportive Board members the confidence they needed to speak on our behalf. He described the situation the school faced as critical. Reference by another staff member to the “home front" lent support to the motion that M-T was in a struggle for survival. We hear about Manhattan Cable’s proposal to offer M-T a 13-week television show of 30-minute segments on any subject of the unique alternative school's choosing.

Dennis is heard to announce his formation of a Guitar Workshop for interested parties. Students like Chris, Brian and Gina appear to arrive, while others move around the room and some leave. An original piece of poetry is read by Denise Pellitier, Class of 1980, and is barely audible. It includes these lines:  “M-T is the dream that I’ll dream over and over again, even when…. it is seen no more.” There is a focused attention and obvious respect accorded the writer by students as she is reading. The silence in the room is palpable. The moment is followed by an almost reverential segue to a spontaneous holding of hands and closing as people leave for the weekend.