2007-12-07 / Sports

Far Rockaway High School Fades Into Oblivion

By Elio Velez

In September of 2011, the grand tradition and legendary history of Far Rockaway High School will fade into history.

The school, which was founded in 1897, and graduated Nobel Peace Prize winners and famous sports stars like Nancy Lieberman and John Warren will become a distant memory.

In its place, the school will be renamed Far Rockaway Educational Complex, after a decision made by the Board of Education this past week to reorganize the school.

"The school hasn't been serving student needs for years," Melanie Meyers, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said.

"We are phasing out the school because drastic changes are needed in order for the school to serve students well."

The reorganization was done after the Department of Education released an academic report which gave the school a D rating.

Far Rockaway High School will not admit a freshman class in September of 2008. The last graduation class from the school will occur in June of 2011.

Once the reorganization is complete, the building, which first laid the cornerstone of its foundation at 825 Bay 25 Street on March 13, 1928, will house four academies.

The existing Frederick Douglass Academy VI will co-exist with a new high school. Middle school Kappa VI will be joined by another such program inside the building.

Like South Shore and Lafayette High School, Far Rockaway is in company with other high schools that will eventually be closing their doors.

And similar to those schools, the problems with the reorganization will most certainly affect the existing sports programs.

Until 1973, Far Rockaway was the only high school to serve the peninsula and its sports teams were not only competitive but also successful.

The school won PSAL city championships in football and baseball and produced many college and pro stars. And in those days, the school had a population which overflowed with more than 2,000 students.

The football program, which in the 1950's and 1960's had attracted 100 players on the roster, has problems attracting students to the team this past season. Because the school only admitted 865 students, there are a limited number of athletes available to the football and other sports programs.

The winter and spring sports programs will not be affected for this school year.

Once the school is reorganized in 2011, the sports programs will pool together its athletes from the two high schools.

It will be similar to what Campus Magnet did when the school formerly known as Andrew Jackson, was shut down and reopened in 1994.

Greg Carter, a 1972 graduate and currently the president of the Rockaway Sports Association, is one of the alumni from the school who is saddened by the closing.

Carter says he remembers the good times of winning the 1970 PSAL city baseball champions and under legendary coach Jack Kerschman, played with the 1971 city varsity football champions.

"It's a sad time for all of the Far Rockaway alumni who remembered that we had a great school academically and athletically.

Who is going to remember the great athletes we had like Chuck Herd, Mel Utley, Nancy Lieberman and John Warren?"

Stan Brown, a member of the class of 1964, and who is the founder of the successful Stan Pepper Steppers Double Dutch team, says a part of history will never be taught to future students.

"It's like taking a brick from a building. Eventually the school will fall down. That is what happening," Brown said.

"I always say that if you don't have past, you don't have a future. And that's what they're going to do with these kids. The history will be gone."

Return to top


Email Us
Contact Us

Copyright 1999 - 2014 Wave Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved

Neighborhoods | History