Hi, I was just your typical 19 year old Seminary girl in South Jersey (if you don't know where I mean, you are probably on the wrong blog). We all have nisoynos, challenges, and experiences, both positive and negative. Here is where I have decided to share some of them.

Location: Lakewood, New Jersey, United States

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

High Aspirations

Over the weekend I noticed this letter in one of the local magazines, and found it to be extremely offensive. Maybe its just me but it seems that Lakewood is becoming more and more distasteful all the time. At least most people used to work hard at creating an illusion of being sincere ehliche Yidden that believed in Chovos HaLovovos. Now it seems they dont even try to do that anymore.

This letter basically says, if you don't come from our corporate headquarters-approved elementary school, or are a sibling from the aforementioned school, or are a child of one of the employees at the corporate school, then WE DO NOT WANT YOU... its as simple as that..

In my naivete, I thought high schools were about fairness and educational achievement. This basically says that if you come from the right school, even your grades don't matter. If you don't come from the right school even a straight A average won't help. I would strongly recommend that entrance exams be instituted in all Lakewood Girl's high schools. This will encourage girls to strive for excellence in academic achievement . That way every girl has a fair chance of admission regardless of family or school background. It also greatly reduces the politics involved.

This brings to mind the concept of the ever elusive "good girl". What exactly defines a good girl, it isnt grades, and it certainly isnt excellence in learning or bain odom lchaveiro. Perhaps, you ,dear readers, can enlighten me.

A girl in Monsey recently, told me that striving for academic superiority is a waste of time because after marriage, the valedictorian and the girl at the bottom of her class will be mopping the same floor. This is the most pathetic thing I've ever heard in my life. Talk about high aspirations......


Blogger almost_frei said...

Hang on a sec... I can understand their predicament, too many students vieing for too few spaces at that school. However do they guarantee a place for every graduating student? If that is the case, I think it is a good idea. This HS just becomes an extention of that elemetary school.

The fact that they limit who they accept is a problem, but by making the criteria non-subjective it sounds fair to me.

2/21/2007 5:45 AM  
Blogger jewish philosopher said...

Why not just to another high school?

And it's true about grades having no connection to mopping the floor. So don't worry about them too much.

2/21/2007 9:46 AM  
Blogger Tzvi Meir said...

I think it is an excellent solution.
Girls automatically get to go to the right "type" of school. They go to that elementary school, learn in a certain derech, and continue on to high school. It makes perfect sense. Noone cares about grades, because it is NOT the most important thing. Brooklyn schools stress grades above anything else and it is not the way it's meant to be.

2/21/2007 11:43 AM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

JP....Your very amusing..thanks for the laugh.

Tzvi Meir's mommy....cute blog, hes adorable..but what derech are you talking about, is this Brisk vs. Slobodka.We're talking about girl's highschools, its the same wherever you go, the only thing that changes is the uniform.

2/21/2007 2:45 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

I know when my HS rosh yeshiva was in beis medrish studying for smicha used to require a certain level of character development and concientious and quiet devotion to halacha before they would even administer the test.

The way they chose to test this was with a bowl of fruit. In the yeshiva very often they would casualy pass around a bowl of fruit. Quietly and unobtrusively they would note order in which the bochurim would take the fruit, which they would eat and which they would make the blessing on. Everyonce in a while they would ask about it, which fruit was their favorite etc.

They did this because there is a list of halachos regarding the order in which one is to bless fruit, and they are the kind of halachos that are often "trampled with the heel". They used these halachos as a barometer as to the yiras shemayim of the student and would not administer the test if he did not take the fruit in the proper order. Obviously if they where caught berating another student or some such similar thing they would refuse the test to them anyway, but still this was a test.

I think that if you want to make sure that you are dealing with the most concientious students there are ways to test their character. Things that you can watch for and work with, and use to measure the refinement and the quality of the individual you are working with.

From what I know the institutions that produce "good girls" don't have any different a rate of at risk kids than do the bad yeshivos, some have remarked that on the contrary they may have more! I think that it doesn't make very much sense to use the schools as a predictor of yiras shemayim. Better to use character tests if that is your goal.

But grades are good as well. However they have less to do with how much someone actualy knows than with how dedicated of a student someone is.

2/21/2007 4:01 PM  
Blogger Elisheva said...

Okay, where do I start?

I guess we're back to the complaints. And while I have many, I think there are enough things that need fixing that we don't have to invent more.

I was going to go into a whole thing, but I see so far the commenters all seem to 'get it'. Why make an issue where there is none? I know the school involved and a lot of the politics involved in this. It has like zero to do with fitting in with any "corporate headquarters" idea of a girl. It is because there are four high schools here and like twelve, if not more, elementary schools. And every year the girls are banging down the doors of the high schools and the high schools have to turn kids away, and then there is an outcry.

So now that someone is trying to push other to open more schools - which we so desperately need here - by saying that his high-school will only take girls from his elementary school - that is also not good! It's like complain when they don't have room for you, and then complain when they try to open up more schools for you! That is ridiculous.

Everyone knows, and it is clear in his letter that it is no new criteria or more yeshivish or less yeshivish or better grades or worse grades. it is simply that the same school will continue from their own elementary and other elementaries cannot keep on trying to stuff their talmidos (who like don't they have an achrayus for them?)into the same few schools, but rather work on opening up more...

Also, you can't have it both ways. You say that even straight As don't help, and then you write how grades really don't matter (and they don't - at least not that much...).

You are right, grades are not the main thing, and that's why straight As have little to do with the yiras shomayim of a girl and what kind of a girl a school wants.

I am sorry but I just totally don't agree with this whole thing. It is so not anythig to do with better or worse or selecting, but simply there are not enough schools and one person has had enough and is trying to do something about it.


2/21/2007 4:32 PM  
Blogger Elisheva said...

BTW, as far as I know, ALL high school in Lakwood have entrance exams. Three for sure do.

2/21/2007 4:35 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

Elisheva...Unless you know something that I don't thats going on behind the scenes, or Itotally miread the letter, it doesnt say anything about attempts to open new schools. If that in fact is the case, thats wonderful.

As for entrance exams, I know there are. My point is that they should be used to decide who gets into the High School of their choice, since space is so limited. It seems to be the fairest thing to do.

2/21/2007 6:39 PM  
Blogger Elisheva said...

Okay, on my way out, but this is from the letter that you show here on the post.

"Elementary Schools should take full responsiblity to establish or choose an affiliated high school for their students..."

I just recently got out of this whole parsha, and not that long ago got into it, and my sisters are still in it, although b"h for them, as siblings, it is easier. This is one situation where it is so totally out of hand and new schools NEED to be opened.

2/21/2007 7:03 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

"one person has had enough and is trying to do something about it."

Elisheva...I guess I misread your first comment, It seemed like you were saying that he was involved in opening another, not that the letter is just stating the obvious. Of course we need more schools. Im just advocating that in the meantime there be fairer competition for the available places in the schools.

"Also, you can't have it both ways. You say that even straight As don't help, and then you write how grades really don't matter (and they don't - at least not that much...)."

You misunderstood me, Im not saying that I agree with the grades dont matter thing, just saying over a prevailing atitude..

2/21/2007 7:37 PM  
Blogger D'varim P'shutim said...

SG - nice post - It seems that there is a big issue in lakewood with not enough schools. Now it seems to me, this school has said "leave us alone" with your problems we only take "our" students.It just relieves them of the burden of choosing students. how does this help the community at large ????

(and what is going to happen to those girls from their "own" school they don't want? are they automatically in? _)

2/22/2007 2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can understand the policy, it is not a way of saying if u r not one of our... or grades dont matter,
but due to the fact that there so many different views and hashkafas even among us frum ehrlich yidden, some are more modern and liberal, others are more farfrumt and extreme, to some movies and theater is not something forbidden, to others its chazer treif, some dress more frummy other more trendy...

therefore to assure that the girls dont get confused and mixed up, they cater to a certain part of the public only, those who fit and adhare to their standards

and by the way, on the point of grades not being important, it says
לא המדרש העיקר אלא המעשה So grades of most subjacts and topics that are studied in schools today, are not the most important, no.
Middos and Yiras Shomayim are way more important.

and that girl who said we will both be mopping the same floor... said it in a silly way, she could've said We WILL BOTH BE QUEENS OF OUR HOUSHOLD Busy with the kinderelch over our head..... and that is in a way true...

p.s. I need your vote and oppinoin on my latest post
Is Blog-sphere Ruled by Heretics?

2/22/2007 3:12 PM  
Blogger Lakewood Venter said...

I actually saw this letter too and have mixed feelings about it. Though some of the points you raise are valid, there is definitely a shortage of High Schools in Lakewood. What Bais Shaindel is trying to do is to force the hand of the powers that be to open more High Schools to accomodate ALL girls in need of schools.

Yes, I am sure they have ulterior motives as well, but in the long run it has merits!

2/22/2007 3:45 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Hmm. You raise an interesting question. Does this cause girls not to care about their grades?
It is funny how they make it look like they're doing it to benefit those in their elementary school.
Or should we be naive and say they are?
I think ALL schools should accomodate the B"H growing community

2/23/2007 1:22 AM  
Blogger Independent Frum Thinker said...

Personally, I don’t feel it is right for elementary schools to feed directly into specific high schools. It removes the possibility for a girl to turn over a new leaf and make a new start in a new school with new friends. For the long-term benefit of our society, students should have that option.

2/23/2007 1:32 AM  
Blogger Shpitzle Shtrimpkind said...

Where I come from girls remain with the same school all through their education.

But the question is what High Aspirations are. Is it pathetic to be mopping a floor or is it our highest achievement to be mothers and wives? I personally find it bothersome that women do not get to challenge themselves into something more. Is it wrong to be a somebody? Have a career?

2/25/2007 12:53 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

Why bother calling one an elementary school and one a high school
why not just have one big school with 12 grades?

2/25/2007 4:14 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

Yoni...for some reason this is often done by the boys, but not the girls..

Devarim..I am wondering about that, myself..

Nuch...Im getting to it..

LV...I hope you are right about that..

IFT...I would tend to agree with you..

Shpitz...Careers ares fine..the more $ you make for hubby the better, lol...

2/26/2007 10:47 AM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

maybe they think that girls have cooties that they might give to the other girls.


But seriously, if they have like 12 elementary schools in lakewood, why not have them all band together under one supervisiory body? Public schools share their wealth, and have the supervisiory body ensure that schools all keep required standards, why not have the jewish communities do so as well?

Different schools could have different focuses like all schools still (like in public schools you have various magnets etc) but still make sure that there is some level of uniformity.

2/26/2007 11:59 AM  
Blogger Shpitzle Shtrimpkind said...

Halfnutcase - twelve schools?

We do not have a school of choice, because there is just one for each congregation, and everyone sends to their kehillah. Believe me, it is NOT beneficial. The school gets drunk on power.

2/27/2007 8:43 PM  
Blogger Tzvi Meir said...

I dunno if this thread is still "running" but tell me something (in response to what you replied to me) can you seriously say Beis Sheindel and Beis Kaila have the same way of learning and educating their students? OR, maybe because of the different crowd, there is a different atmosphere in each classroom. This isn't only about Lakewood. Where I come from there are two main high schools. One is much more yeshivish than the other. As a result we grew up talking a bit more "yeshivish" catching on with what our families do. On the other hand, the other school doesn't have room to allow this, due to the more diverse crowd. That is what I mean by "derech of learning". Not the actual text, but the atmosphere that determines the way you learn. Hope I was a bit more clear.Sorry if not :)

3/07/2007 2:10 AM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

Absolutely, TM... I understood what you meant, more or less the first time. My point was just that some girls of that derech will still be rejected by virtue of not coming from this particular elementary school. So there should be a fairer way of accepting students. Unless, all girls from their elem school are automatically accepted, regardless. Which I dont think is the case, as it isnt in anyone's best interest.

3/07/2007 7:48 AM  
Blogger Limey2001 said...

This was done in an attempt to circumvent getting the "rejects" that need to be placed after the few are left standing at the placement process, they now say we have no open registration
I think its retarded that you are forced to stay in the same system, especially if its not working for that particular child
Like some of the schools do also, that ALL sibs must be in the same school, what happened to "chanoch l'na'ar al pi darko?"

3/13/2007 3:22 PM  
Blogger Married and Navigating Jewish Brooklyn said...

Wow....and we thought Lakewood had already reached the lowest part it could get to. This is very sad...and most other schools might follow suit.

It might be good that they are limiting enrollment...but why cant they expand or get others to expand or even help produce new schools?

3/18/2007 1:41 AM  
Blogger Gavi said...

[I can't seem to post this comment on the most recent post - please move it as appropriate.]

Semgirl, you are right on yet again. I am often surprised at how strict we are regarding some things, while not even taking the time to learn about the straightforward requirements of other things...

With regard to such "frum marital advice" websites, I have found that most of them degenerate quite quickly. And no, there is no heteir to be immodest in speech, deed, or writing, even if it is through the relative anonymity of the Internet.

It does not help that we absorb all too well the Western view of sex: that it's inherently evil, and that it is to be enjoyed as a forbidden pleasure. Such a viewpoint is very damaging to a Jewish home.

See Kesubos 8a: everyone knows why the kallah goes to the chuppa, yet we do not speak about it explicitly. Furthermore, the general principle of "dabrah torah bilshon nekiyya" - the torah uses "clean" figures of speech.

I must recommend that every married person learn Even Ha'ezer 25 well. I think that this would be a step in the right direction to dispell some of the myths and resultant problems that we as a community face in this area.


If you (Semgirl) or anyone reading this wishes to have more sources/development/explanation, please indicate your e-mail address in a comment and I will be happy to reply privatly. (Certain topics are best aired in individual discussions.)

3/25/2007 10:29 PM  

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