1946 Alumna Reflects on Experience

By Jeffrey Dong ’16

Midwood alumni, Florence Gagliardi was once like us, walking through the halls of Midwood in 1946 as she prepared to graduate.

“The school was beautiful, it was a brand-new school,” Ms. Gagliardi said.

In 1946, World War II had just ended, but the war was still going on during Ms. Gagliardi’s first three years of high school. Midwood was a new school founded in 1940 and since the war had just started in 1939, the school was preparing for any enemy attacks. She remembers having to take cover from an air raid in a shelter in Brooklyn College at the time of the war while she was in her gym uniform.

She started to attend Midwood only two years after the school was built. She said Midwood had prepared her for her first job in business. The commercial law class helped her get her first job at a law firm along with having a regents diploma in stenography, typing, English, math, and history, Also, she remembers a man from Wall Street coming to the school to interview some students, and that’s how she got her first job.

“My favorite subjects were English, stenography, and typing,” Ms. Gagliardi said. Her least favorite class, however, was gym. She remembered having it first, and back then there were no lockers so everyone had to change in front of each other.

To this day, she still remembers her social studies teacher, Mr. Eisenstadt.

When she finally graduated she was happy to be done with school as she didn’t attend college and went straight to work.

“I thoroughly enjoy having her as my neighbor,” Ms. DeSimone said. “She is an intelligent woman who like our elders should be revered. She is full of stories about her past and loves to share them with the younger generation. We all have a lot to learn from the experiences of the adults who came before us. When I am with her, she is the teacher and I am the student. I love being the student.” Ms. Gagliardi and Ms. DeSimone, an anatomy teacher here are good neighbors. A lot has changed since Ms. Gagliardi graduated. Back then whites were a majority of this school, and there were only 305 students in the graduating class. Now, we have a variety of students of different nationalities and many more students. Also, clubs have changed quite a bit. Clubs such as Senior Council, Stenorita, Red Cross, Newman, Leaders, and Civil Service don’t exist anymore. However, programs and sports have mostly stayed the same. Arista, Archon, basketball, swimming, track, and tennis are still available today.

Ms. Gagliardi does not plan to visit Midwood again, but she remembers a lot from her four years here as a student.


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