A lifetime ago, I went to George Washington HS in Washington Heights NYC. Living in Washington Heights back in those days, chances were pretty good that you wound up attending “G-dubs” as we affectionately called this school. I had some of the best life experiences in this school and I look back on those days very fondly. Great friendships were formed here and higher learning was at its best.
After two decades, I recently had the opportunity to go back inside this beautiful school and provide professional development to some of its staff. Teachers I’ve come to love through the years were no longer present. Sadly, some of my favorite teachers had passed away years before. So many of these incredibly dedicated teachers brought so much meaning into our lives and I wished I had seen them just one last time to say thank you.
The general atmosphere and culture of the school as I walked through the hallway felt incredibly different. This large school has since been split up into four “academies”, with each specific school occupying a floor, something that felt very wrong to me.
There was a lot of history in the hallways, auditorium, classrooms, “basement” and even the cafeteria. Things were the same and yet very different. I spent the entire day at my former school, having a good time reminiscing about the good ‘ol days. I even managed to go to the bell tower and rooftop, taking in the view of the neighborhood.
Outside, the large football field was still there but at the end of the field, beyond the gates, we used to have spacious tennis courts. Now the courts are gone, replaced by large, red annex buildings which houses a separate middle school. This was totally wrong.
Just before I left, I snapped a picture of the school entrance and lobby. I realized with great sadness what was incredibly wrong with not only this picture, my school, but with most urban schools (definitely NYC) across the country. When I was in high school, my classmates and I never had to deal with this serious issue.
Can you see what it is?