A Safe Place to Be Smart: The Bronx High School of Science: Mentioning the Bronx (the New York City borough that sits atop Manhattan, for those who may not know this city) can conjure up Fort Apache the Bronx, the film from 1981 (with Paul Newman and Danny Aiello) that portrayed the danger and desperation that then boiled in sections of the Bronx. I grew up in this borough, named after a Dutchman (Jonas Bronck) when the City was settled centuries ago, and indeed there were some pretty sketchy places. But there was another form of danger — one among youth that made it fearsome to be smart or wear glasses or tote a lot of books. My junior high school, PS 113, was like that, and I learned to sneak in and out to avoid the boys who were looking to bully and shame.
I took a citywide exam in the ninth grade (the last year of “junior high” — then the interval between elementary and high school) and, to my surprise, received notice that I was accepted into the Bronx High School of Science.