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New ‘tone’ at Roy H. Mann - JHS battles back from less than stellar reputation

Roy H. Mann Junior High School is asking the community for a second chance. Long criticized by neighborhood residents for the wild behavior of some students, Roy Mann staffers attended a Mill Basin Civic Association meeting to mend fences and repair the school’s damaged reputation. “We see a big change in the tone in the school,” said Principal William Woods. “I feel great about what’s happening.” Since Woods took the reins at the East 68th Street school last April, he has made an effort to meet with community activists and storeowners to listen to and address their concerns about his students. In recent years, the civic fielded complaints from residents and shopkeepers who claimed that Roy Mann students would congregate in front of the stores and homes on Avenue N, break into fights, and verbally harass people walking by or working in the stores. Roy Mann’s image as a rowdy school only worsened when a 12-year-old student brought a gun into the school building last March. That incident led to the school being deemed “persistently dangerous” by the state Education Department. The Police Department quickly jumped in to get the school under control. Cops are now present when students arrive at the school in the morning and are dismissed in the afternoon to make sure that the kids don’t become unruly. The interventions are helping to ease tensions in the building and all has been quiet since school started. That’s left Woods ready to let the community know about the positive aspects of Roy Mann. At the civic meeting, he brought along several talented young students who showed off the skills they learned in band class. They performed impressive renditions of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” on the trombone and clarinet. Woods said he wanted “to bring them out to the community to show the community what we’re all about behind closed doors.” “It’s not unlike any other middle school,” he added. Civic President Paul Curiale agreed that Roy Mann is improving. “What has happened at Roy H. Mann is obvious,” he said. “It’s just a whole complete turnaround and I’m very proud to know that Roy H. Mann is our junior high school.” But there’s still more to be done. “We’re working on things,” Woods said. “We’re trying to make things better there and I think we’re going in the right direction.” “We have a way of looking at things in a positive way,” he continued. “If we focus on the good things happening, then we’ll see more of that.”

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