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FDNY H.S.

A drop-in visit at one of the city’s new schools.

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Our greatest heroes are ordinary people, reads a banner in the ninth-grade English class. The sentiment is especially poignant at FDNY High School for Fire and Life Safety, an experimental program with only 85 students at Brooklyn’s Thomas Jefferson High School—and one of 50 mini-schools the city has launched this year. (At the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice, students give opening statements to Cravath partners; at the Bronx School of Expeditionary Learning, “active pedagogy” includes rock-climbing.) At the “fire school,” Raymond Fabian, a lanky 14-year-old with freckles, says he wants to be an Army Ranger. Two girls want to be EMTs. Malcolm George wants to be a football player, and says with a smirk that this will teach him to “tuck and roll.” Students get training from FDNY veterans, which raises an obvious question: “If the school catches fire, do you guys know what to do?” Twenty-three heads look around uncertainly. “By the end of the year,” says one, “we will.”


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