I just received this letter from a former graduate of Far Rockaway High School. As many of you have been active in trying to raise money for the school and its students and programs, this graduate presents us with a different point of view. If you care to respond to the letter, I will be happy to post your feelings on this page. Maybe you have the answer to his question.
Alan "Skip" Weinstock
Class of 1963
Please don't take this the wrong way, but other than the building being the same, there is absolutely no connection whatsoever between the school and the community as it currently exist and how it was when we graduated years ago.
It's an unfortunate fact of life but it's not like a town where the graduates of a school might move away but the parents and friends and relatives remain. Why do you think any graduate from 1980 or before would have any desire to help the school as it currently exists? Just because the building is the same? What connection does any older graduate have to Far Rockaway High School in the year 1998? This is not because the school and community is now 100% minority. It is about the fact that it is a 100% turnover in terms of people and who lives there.
I have spoken to many of my fellow graduates and they all feel the same way. You could pick any community in Long Island and there will be more Far Rockaway people living there than in Far Rockaway. Obviously you feel differently and I am very curious as to why you think anyone else would. Please enlighten me.
Here is a reply to the above letter!
I was a bit offended by the letter questioning the connection between the school and the community. I am an FRHS graduate from 1980 who still does live in Far Rockaway (and am white, BTW). While the neighborhood has changed, and still is changing for that matter, no area is static.
My concern as an alumnus is that the students today, for whatever reasons, are lacking many of the same activities that I had when I went to FRHS. Among the ones I am aware of is a student newspaper and a band.
Part of the original aim of the reunion committee was to help to establish a lasting connection between FRHS students of the past and present. The then-principal of the school Ms. Richardson was concerned (and rightful so, in my opinion) that this not be just a hit and run effort. We need to be more proactive on this front.
FRHS Class of 1980
Here is another reply to the above letter!
This is in response to the letter which asks, "Why give back to FRHS and why do we of the past continue to want to do this for our school and community." This is a very subjective question and I believe it is so personal each answer will be different, but also believe that there are certain underlying factors that will tie each answer together; a mystery ingredient that we got by osmosis just from going to FRHS. It's what I call "magic."
The reunion was a renewal of my belief that our feeling for FRHS is something different from "normal" schools where kids move away. Why else would 3,500 people come from all over the world for three days? What is the "magic" that makes us "special?" I don't know, but I do know it's there and that just because the neighborhood changed doesn't make the "magic" go away.
The first night of the reunion, Friday, when we were on the bus going from the Marriott to the cocktail party in Rockaway Beach, the bus passed under the el at 25th St. and for one sec we could all see the school. You wouldn't have believed the sound. Everyone gasped (to a person!) and screamed, "There it is!!!!!!!!!!!."
Now, those were people from all years...old, middle aged and some young. Why would all of them get so terribly excited about a building? Not all of the people on the bus were out-of-towners, either. Some were New Yorkers who can visit Far Rockaway anytime.
We all want (I think) FRHS to go on as a wonderful place to learn. The fact is that the students are "minorities" different from the "minorities" we knew. Wouldn't it be wonderful if one of those kids earned a Nobel Prize, also???????? Then we'd have the only school with FOUR Nobel Prize winners! Why else would we be trying to get decent computers for the school? It's not the place I'd choose to be at the time (considering what dangers lurk) but I feel very strongly about continuing the tradition of giving back.
Sure, if I could wave a magic wand and have Far Rockaway be what it was in the days I remember, I would love to go back home. I am very, very homesick, still, and even with the problems there, I'd be hard pressed (if I had the resources) not to buy my old house back, even with the community the way it is.
There is a move afoot to restore the entire Rockaway Peninsula. It may take years, but I believe someday the Rockaways will be great again. Personally, I'll continue to give back what I can. I hope lots of people feel the same way.
Class of 1956