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Parents Fear Age Clash as FiDi High School Moves Into LES Elementary School

By Trevor Kapp | November 7, 2012 1:10pm

LOWER EAST SIDE — When Jill Reinier first saw images online of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy on lower Manhattan, her mind immediately went to her son, a student at Millennium High School on Broad Street.

“It gave us some indication we may not go back to school right away,” she said.

While her instincts were correct, what Reinier didn’t expect was that the Shuang Wen School on Cherry Street would open its doors to Millennium students in the wake of the storm.

High school freshmen and sophomores joined children as young as 5 years old inside Shuang Wen on Cherry Street Wednesday as part of a citywide effort to accommodate students whose schools were damaged by the storm.

The transition appeared to go smoothly on Wednesday, but some parents did worry about the possible problems arising when pairing younger students with older ones.

While Shuang Wen parent Marcia Hayden was happy the displaced students had somewhere to go, she was concerned high schoolers might be too loose-lipped for her 6-year-old daughter.

“I always worry about things they would say around the smaller kids, and they pick it up from there,” she said. “High school kids say words that, at 6 years old, aren't supposed to be repeated. That's my only concern.''

But Reinier said she didn’t believe there would be any problems.

''I'm biased, but we have good kids,” she said. “I don't think it will be an issue.''

Teachers hoped to get back to the business of education with the relocation.

“We’re trying to restore some normalcy,” said uprooted Millennium social-studies teacher Josh Frost, 41. “'We have advisory [classes], and when we get into our advisories, one of the things we'll stress to our students is to realize that we're guests and to be thankful that we have this school.”

Parents at Shuang Wen praised their school’s generosity.

“Every child has to learn,” said Daishaya Gadson, 26, who has a daughter in kindergarten at the high-achieving dual-language elementary school. “And they have to have a good environment in which to do so. Unfortunately, the hurricane hit us. But everybody's doing the best they can.''

Sarah Grey, 48, who has an 8-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter at the school said she was just glad to help.

“I just told my children if they seen any new kids," she said, "make them feel welcome.”