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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Highbridge residents rally for school

One week before the city announces its education capital plan, hundreds of elementary school children joined community activists and local elected officials in demanding that a new middle school in Highbridge be part of that plan.

As reported in last month's Highbridge Horizon, the capital plan-- which outlines School Construction Authority (SCA) spending from 2010 to 2014 -- is set to be unveiled November 3.

Local education advocates including United Parents of Highbridge (UPOH) argue that the absence of a middle school in the Highbridge community forces young children to endure long and unsafe commutes to and from school. A document provided by UPOH lists the number of buses and trains the group says students must take in order to get to school. For instance, according to the document, children must take either 2 buses and 2 trains, or 3 buses, to get to IS 219 at 3630 Third Avenue; they must take 2-3 buses to get to IS 227, at 275 Harlem River Park Bridge.

On Monday, supporters of a Highbridge middle school gathered at the site they are proposing for the facility: West 167th Street between University and Sedgwick Avenues. Organizers of the rally mobilized children from several area elementary schools to turn out. The young children energetically chanted "We need a middle school!"

"There is no other open space in this community we could do this in," Bakary Camara, of UPOH, told the Horizon. "We want them to take it seriously. We want to make a statement today that the whole community is behind us on this process."

State Senator José M. Serrano told the crowd that a middle school in Highbridge was necessary to accomodate a growing population. "Highbridge has some of the fastest-growing immigrant populations anywhere in New York," Serrano said. "We are underserved."

Councilmember Helen Diane Foster suggested that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg must deliver a middle school in Highbridge if he is to keep previous promises. "We will have a middle school," Foster said. "When Mayor Bloomberg says he wants his legacy to be education, it has to be a middle school in Highbridge."

Trevor Brown was one of several members of the Woodycrest Center for Human Development (WCHD)'s youth council on hand to support the middle school campaign.

Brown, now 16, told those gathered at the rally that when he was a middle-school student, he had to travel one hour by bus each morning.
"It's not fair," Brown said, "that other neighborhoods have middle schools and we don't have a middle school."

Photos by Roy Speller, Highbridge Horizon


  1. Why would parents want a school across from a shelter, a police station(BTF)and near a "hot sheet" motel. This area is the wrong location for a school.

  2. As one of the members of the highbridge community that has been looking for a space for a school for the past three years - there is very little space available and the neighborhood has needed a middle school for nearly forty years! Having children traveling on two to three public buses to attend middle school is not acceptable (all middle schools are currently located on the other side of the cross bronx or grand concourse).

    A note to those that believe that Highbridge does not need a middle school - the original public schools in the Highbridge neighborhood (ps 11 & 73) were designed as grade 1st to 8th grade schools. Children only needed to travel out of the neighborhood at nine or ten years old to attend school once Highbridge was no longer a white community but a majority black and latino community.

    The only other area that is large enough for a school just happens to be the 3 acres that runs the property surrounding that shelter, police station and the motel - and the owner, the olnick organization, expects to build pricey condos or apartments similar to their other propertys - such as lenox terrace in harlem. however, they currently will not consider building a school in that property.


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