Midwood Celebrates 75th Anniversary

By Yumna Ahmed Qazi ‘17

Happy Birthday Midwood! Midwood celebrated its 75 anniversary by partaking in a Blast from the Past jubilee, inviting any alumni who has attended the school from its opening in 1941.

Ellen Sammeth Brotman graduated from Midwood in 1955 and expressed her love for the school and her enthusiasm for coming back.

“I loved Midwood. I was involved in SING and I was a booster, but all we did was cheer in the bleachers. I think we used to have a sorority here at the time,” she said. “There are so many stairs and doors here that I don’t remember, but they must’ve been there. I’m really happy to be here today.”

Sandra Kassin-Deardorff, an engineer, graduated from Midwood in 1981 and described the new changes she noticed while walking around with her husband.

“We didn’t have our own science and math building,” she said. “I also noticed the desks are different when I walked into a few classrooms. We used to have the old fashioned wooden desks bolted to the floor.”

Many teams and clubs voluntarily attended the jubilee in order to give tours around the school and raise school spirit.

Shenice Rodney ‘17, who is a member of the girls lacrosse team said, “I’m proud to be here today to represent the lacrosse team. This is a great opportunity to meet new people and hear first person stories about what they did like 40-50 years ago. It’s crazy.”

The student government was also invited to the event. Clifford Young ‘17, the mayor of Midwood, conversed with many alumni during the breakfast.

“I feel very happy to be here today and see so many Hornets from different generations. It’s a privilege to be a part of the 75 graduating class and meet people who previously attended here,” he said.

The cheerleading squad was giving programs out to the guests at the entrance of the auditorium while the school orchestra was preparing for their performance. As people were settling into their seats, the band played four songs consisting of “African Rhythms,” “ U p t o w n Funk,” “Fury,” and the National Anthem. Ms. Melissa Williams, the conductor for the orchestra, expressed her pride and satisfaction after the band played the four songs without any mistakes.

“We kind of crammed in a lot of work in the first six weeks to be ready for this performance,” she said. “We had to come before everyone else and practiced the four songs. They were focused during rehearsal and I’m really proud of their work.”

Harris Sarney, who graduated Midwood in 1957, was the host of the presentation that followed after the orchestra left the stage. Sarney introduced Daniel Abramson, a representative from the office of Mayor De Blasio. Abramson arrived with an official document from the mayor to read aloud to the audience. Abramson read the main message of the proclamation, which was met with loud applause and cheers.

“ T o d a y , October 15, is declared Midwood High School Day,” he said.

Following a speech from Principal McDonnell, an alumni choir came to the front of the auditorium and sang, “The Heavens are Telling” (from Haydn’s The Creation) and “Ride the Chariot” with Rodney Sorensen conducting the choir and Pamela Levy being the guest accompanist.

Sarney invited Diane Steinbrink, who graduated from Midwood in 1954 and Michael Davidson, who graduated from Midwood in 1957 along with a panel of former mayors to the stage. Steinbrink and Davidson spoke of the history of the City of Midwood and encouraged any alumni in the audience to stand up if they were a mayor in the student government or participated in Model Congress.

However, the audience seemed to get a little impatient an hour into the program, and when it was finally Young’s turn to speak at the roundtable, a quarter of the audience had left. Young was the last in the panel to give his short speech to the alumni.

“You all have paved the way for Hornets like me and all the other student volunteers that are here today,” he said. “Because of you all and the school administration, our school is consistently ranked number one in the city. I’m fortunate and humble to serve as mayor for Midwood. Serving as mayor gives me the opportunity to hear the voices in the halls and let them know that this school is truly a good one.”

A f t e r the “Meet the Mayors” roundtable, a video made by 1978 graduate Julia Rabinowitz was shown to the audience, showing a montage of the old principals and various staff who attended the school throughout the years. The alumni clapped and cheered loudly whenever they recognized an old teacher they had. Ms. Marcia Kaufman, the senior advisor and math teacher, was a part of the video and received a steady amount of applause.

“I graduated from Midwood in 1961, but I also teach here,” she said. “It was so fantastic to see former students of mine who are now teachers, politicians, and doctors and more. We have over 20 members of the alumni who are faculty now.”

Ms. Wendy Guida, an English teacher who is a 1983 graduate, helped organize the jubilee and also appeared in the video. Ms. Guida was one of the members in a committee of 20 people who worked for a year to organize the event. She contributed by helping people check in, providing pictures for the video and putting together the program to hand out to the guests. Ms. Guida was excited to contribute to the process and enjoyed the jubilee.

“It’s funny because I’m so focused on being a teacher here that I almost forgot that I would be seeing my friends,” she said. “It was wonderful! Many of us have busy lives and don’t get to see each other much, so the jubilee was a treat.”

After the presentation, people had the option to explore the school on their own or with a student as tour guide. Benjamin Rosa, a worker for IBM Global Financing, graduated from Midwood in 1978 and noticed the diversity present today compared to when he attended the school.

“Midwood definitely feels like it has more of an international flavor compared to when I was here,” he said. “I liked that even though Midwood wasn’t a specialized high school like Stuyvesant, I always felt the students here were just as good. You get a really good education here.”

Some of the faculty at Midwood brought family members who previously attended the school. Ms. Dara Greenbaum, the global history teacher for freshmen, attended the jubilee with her father, Simon Greenbaum, who graduated from Midwood in 1969.

“Everyone here today most likely remembers Flatbush Avenue and King’s Theatre back in the old days,” he said. “That’s where we used to go everyday after school if we wanted to relax.”

The oldest alumnus present at the jubilee was Joel Berson, who was a part of the very first graduating class in 1945. Berson described his days at Midwood, but could not recall everything in detail, as it was his first visit in over 70 years.

“I played on the tennis team and I was the chief justice of the student court,” he said. “I played in the orchestra thanks to Ben Chancey, who was the head of the music department. It was a wonderful experience.”

The former First Lady of New York State, Matilda Cuomo, made an appearance at the night event and accepted an award made in honor of her humanitarian work. She also spoke about a mentoring program she created.

“We recognized many accomplished alumni who will be honored on a plaque. Names will be added each year,” said Ms. Guida.

Many alumni have offered advice for the future generations to come. The overall message they wanted to convey was for the students to enjoy their time here and live in the moment. Berson’s advice for the students was to cherish their education and look back at high school with fondness.

Follow the path that’s been established. It’s a great path to a great future,” he said.


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