Community Advisory Board and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth, Education and Safety Task Force on Thursday, June 7, celebrated the achievements of their current student body at an assembly in the students' honor.
BGHS, founded in 1978 as Boys High, is Brooklyn's first and oldest public high school. Over the last three and half years, beginning before Bernard Gassaway took over as principal at BGHS two and half years ago, the school has been under intense scrutiny for .
For the last five years, the graduation rate at BGHS has ranked as one of the lowest in the city, coinciding with the pass rates by students on their Regents exams, also very low.
Over the past decade, BGHS has made several appearances on the Department of Education's school closure list, barely but successfully eking by, due in large part to the community's efforts to rally around the historic institution, which is referred to still by the community as "The Pride of Bed-Stuy."
Since Gassaway has taken the reigns, he has aggressively ramped up efforts to keep the school from being shuttered through programs that emphasize "rigor."
Some of these changes in the past year include more , , and that provide gifted students a chance to take college courses and earn college credits while still in high school.
All of the school's latest improvements and achievements were highlighted on Thursday in the school's auditorium, as well as an honest admission by Gassaway about the challenges that remain ahead.
The program, entitled "Making The Return to Greatness," was moderated by Stephanie Tabertus, a BGHS alumn (class of 2008). City Councilman Al Vann, a longtime champion of preserving the historic institution, opened the ceremony with a speech about channeling the spirit of our forefathers and those that struggled hard to achieve greatness in the past.
NYS Board of Regents Member Dr. Lester W. Young presented a group of high-achieving students with academic and community service awards, along with a citation, while 25 students in the same group were "pinned" and inducted into the National Honors Society-- the first group in the school to receive such an honor.
Also, two BGHS alumni -- one from the class of 1949 -- presented citations of recognition to the school's Boys Varsity Track Team, the PSAL city champs and the Boys Varsity Basketball Team, the PSAL city and state champions.
The BGHS Brooklyn Steppers Marching Band gave a lively show down the aisles and along the foot of the stage, after which Dr. Adelaide L. Sanford, vice chancellor emeritus of the NY Board of Regents, gave the keynote speech.
Gassaway extended a gracious "thank you" to the alumni, the students, Councilman Al Vann and the entire advisory board:
"Each member of this board has contributed in so many very important ways to keeping this school open and moving it towards greatness," Gassaway said.
"And as for the students, we hope that one of you will perhaps one day will stand here as a principal and talk about how you also were an important part of this school's rich tradition of greatness."