Legacy’s History!!! A Teachers Point of View

Statement from an original staff member of the first and second year of Legacy School for Integrated Studies.

The Legacy School came about in 1993 along with a few others that were expected to take students from Districts 4 and 5 as Julia Richman HS was being phased out.
It was supposed to eventually move to 67th street but that never happened; so much for DOE plans and promises.
In our staff development training, we learned about Global Warming, and the urgency of developing critical thinkers who can make connections between subjects now, so that they can be better leaders later.

The school went through a lot of trauma because on the very first day there was an Asbestos Crisis.
We were kicked out of old Stuyvesant so it could be cleaned of asbestos, and moved to the National Guard Armory on 14th St at the site that is now the YMCA.

It was very hard to hold classes in rooms with no chalkboards.
One room had walls that were painted with camouflage, and that was where fights broke out.
There were even rumors of a weapons room that some adventurous kids found in the basement.
There were only two bathrooms and no cafeteria.
The students got so tired of cold school lunch with warm milk, that they almost had a walkout over the food question.
Of course there was no gym, I can’t even remember how we handled that.

Over the Martin Luther King weekend in 1994, the water in the pipes froze and burst because a window was left open, or so they told us.
As the ice thawed, the school became flooded, and once again was homeless.

We went back to the old Stuyvesant building but only had access to the auditorium, where classes were held, until the other schools shuffled around and gave us something like 3 rooms.  The principal had a desk in the hallway.
Later we got a few more rooms and a small office.
Meanwhile the new building was being renovated but not fast enough.

What brought the school together in the late Spring of 94 was the interdisciplinary Neighborhood Study project.
Different teams of different ages had to work together to conduct research, surveys and other exploration of either Chinatown, Harlem or the Lower East Side.
They were rightfully proud of their presentations.

The school has come a long way over a very bumpy road.
Legacy’s middle school grades have already been phased out.

However it’s obvious that the high school students have benefited from their education at Legacy because they are already leaders!  They are using their technological, intellectual, and presentation skills in many creative ways to address an attack on their community which is being repeated all over the place.
Clearly someone sees that building at 34 West 14 Street as prime real estate, and now we see the threat to close down Legacy.

Sooner or later, public school students and families and the hard working staff of hard pressed schools will get to determine the destiny of our own schools.
The obstacle now is the 1% who see dollar signs and markets, not beautiful young people with potential, when they look at the education system!  We outnumber them, and we need to out-organize them.
Legacy students: live like them, Dare to struggle, dare to win.

Sara Catalinotto, former Legacy teacher