Personal Tidbits‎ > ‎Stuyvesant HS‎ > ‎

Class of '81

I attended Stuyvesant High School from 1977-1981. Stuy is one of the specialized high schools in the NYC Public School system (you had to take a test to get in; the focus of the schools is math and science).

Stuy is now located in a new, hi-tech building in the Wall Street area; way back in the day it was located on 15th Street near 1st Avenue in Manhattan.


***

Me from the 1981 yearbook.

Frank McCourt, from the 1981 yearbook. At least his picture is unflattering too.


From my 10th HS reunion in 1991.
Frank McCourt hadn't written Angela's Ashes yet. I don't recall if he had retired from teaching by this reunion.

Frank with me and my classmate and best friend Carole Brown.

***

Meeting Frank in 2000:

Frank McCourt was in Durham, NC in January 2000 to promote 'Tis. I was asked, as a former student of his, by a local bookstore to introduce him before a crowd of 2500 people who turned up to hear Frank speak at a fundraiser for one of our magnet high schools.

It was great to see him; I went backstage before he went on, and of course he didn't recognize me from the last reunion, but I brought my trusty '81 Indicator (he recognized me in that context), the pix you see above from the 10th reunion, and my copies of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis for him to sign. I didn't get any decent pix from the event, or I'd have posted them! He was a real tale spinner and was mobbed like a true celebrity after the event!

Here is the introduction I gave that evening:

Good evening. Frank McCourt was one of the most popular teachers at Stuyvesant. Everyone I knew hoped that they would see his name on their program card at some point during our four years there. By the luck of the draw, in the fall of 1980 I had the pleasure of being in his Creative Writing class. Why was he popular? Aside from his charm, ability to spin a good yarn (and sing), he engaged us in feisty discussion. He encouraged us to read (oh, Hamlet!), to write and to share those written experiences, dreams and flights of fancy. We had to keep a journal, and on each Friday, a few of us would be called to read journal entries aloud. What I most remember, as I look back now, was the loving, constructive criticism he gave our work, and the open, unstructured environment he created for us to excel in. By the way, I received a 93 in his class, so I guess I was actually paying attention. When Angela's Ashes came out to much acclaim, some of my classmates and I discussed Frank's amazing journey into the limelight and we all thought how success must embarrass and dismay this humble man, and how he must think he doesn't deserve any of it. But of course he's bonkers. We're glad you decided not to stick that manuscript in a drawer, because you saved your most truly amazing yarns for publication to share with the world. And now Frank McCourt...

 

 









The Urban Setting
(lots to do at lunchtime and after school outside on 15th St. Now I feel sorry for all those folks who actually lived around there!)



Stuy's wonderful auditorium, a place for meeting and chatting before classes. Study halls were often held here.


An empty hallway at the old Stuy. A rare sight. Everyone must be at the infamous, non-existent pool on the top floor.

Good God! What in the world am I wearing? My friend and home room mate Marghiee and I are waiting outside before class on 15th St. Here I am out on 15th again with Carole, Tasia, and Marghiee.

 

My Motley Homeroom Crew

Gym class. Oh the horror! I never got to be a squad leader -- they got the red leader shirts like the Beastie Boys wore in their early days. Anyway, NO ONE liked gym. Remember the gymnastics rotation? I nearly killed myself on the uneven parallel bars. One semester, I convinced one of the teachers to let me bring in a jump rope so that I could teach folks double dutch.

Memorable Teachers I Had At Stuy --
in more ways than one...

One of the gym teachers that inflicted humiliation on us. He always seemed sadistic, but maybe it was me. I barely passed Physics, but I was very entertained during my my tenure with Mr. Birke. One time a student slipped outof class without his knowledge and returned much later with McDonalds and ate it in class and he never noticed. Another gym terrorist, although he was funny to watch while he ordered folks around.
Mr Crosby made French classes fun. I had a 97 average. Woo-hoo! Yet another gym terrorist. Really, I am sure that out of the school, Mrs. Houlihan was a nice person, but little did she know how we had nightmares of final "tests." I did well in Miss Lorenzo's French class as well, though what I remember most about her is that she wore black almost every day for a long time; she was in mourning for a family member, her father, I believe.

Anna Mutnick
My French classes with Mr. Mayorkas were unbelievable. His eccentricities were legendary. It was amazing what went on in class without his knowledge. I loved Mrs. Mutnick. She was my English teacher one semester, and I always sat in the front row. I felt sorry for her sometimes, because some of the folks in my class were extremely inattentive and kind of rowdy by Stuy standards. I took several art classes with Mr. Rosen. He was acerbic with a lot of the kids that thought art period was for kicking back. He and I got along very well, because I was always interested in what he had to say, and he spent a great deal of time cultivating my talents, limited though they were.

 

 

 

 

Comments