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Memories of Seward


My name is Joseph Murphy.  I graduated from Seward in June of 1958.  I hold great memories of my three years there.  I was a life-long resident of the Lower East Side, having attended Charles Sumner, JHS 65 previously.  I had to go to work immediately after high school but started attending CCNY at night.  It took forever but I did get through to complete my studies.  I have fond memories of Mr. Tuttle, gym teacher and track coach.  I was a 50 yard dash man until a knee injury did me in.  It is a long time ago, I remember faces but not all the names.  I eventually married, moved away, became a civil engineer.  I retired in 2004 and spend half the year in New York and winters in Barbados.  We may have been poor back then but our education was superior.


I was a new immigrant when I began my studies at SPHS in September 1949. Naturally, I couldn't speak English and was enrolled in basic English classes taught by Miss De Maria and Mrs. Pollock. That first year, being extremely poor, at Thanksgiving, I received a "care" package through the kind offices of Mrs. Rose Stoloff, the assistant principal at the time, unexpected generosity I've never forgotten. The principal was Wolf Colvin. Somehow, although I could only play the recorder, I was drafted into the school orchestra by Mrs. Rosenthal, faculty advisor to the orchestra, as an oboeist, after which I spent many hours practicing by myself in the locker room, as I was a rather miserable musician. As time passed, and I seemed to have some aptitude for English, I was promoted to honor English classes and Miss Gloster's journalism class, from which I became the feature editor of the Seward World, our school newspaper, whose faculty advisor she was. Miss Theresa Gloster was a major influence in my life. She was not only a great teacher, she was a great human being. She taught me the utility and use of "Yes, but. . ." Not least among the many great teachers at the school was the chairman of the English Department, the wonderfully named Alfred Tennyson Vogel, in whose office I worked as a monitor after he taught me to repair textbooks in the bookroom by rebinding them. And of course, at lunchtime, there were the never-ending games of handball on the top floor of the building, one floor above the cafeteria. Naturally, I also enjoyed the student politics at SPHS, and eventually was elected vice-president of the GO. I don't know what we did, but whatever it was, it became part of the fond memories I have always cherished about my years at Seward.

Alex Levy, Ed. D., Class of January, 1953


My sister and I went to Seward Park High School. My sister graduated in 1975 and I graduated 1976. My sister was Maria L. Figueroa. Maria passed away April 19 2009 after a long battle with heart disease and diabetes. When I was packing her things from her bedroom wall, her Seward Park diploma was proudly hung with her college degree. I kept the Seward Park diploma and put it in my suitcase to bring home to Delaware. When I took out the diploma in front of my family I hugged it closely. I knew how much that diploma meant to my sister, she used to call it her stepping stone.

When we were going to Seward Park and it was winter, there was no bus pass at the time, we had to walk in deep snow and cold. Many times my sister was so sick and she used to say I have to make it to school. She finished high school with a program called homebound by Seward Park. I finished high school also and went to college as did my sister. Today I hang her diploma with mine and a picture of my sister smiling. Friends from Seward Park called me crying and with condolences for a departed brother and sister, across the miles I felt their sorrow and love and unity. I thought I was alone with my pain, but my brothers and sisters were just a few miles away. Through Seward Park I have a family that have my back.

Margie (Figueroa) Meserole '76


Leonard Ornstein '66 went on to a pro-wrestling and name change to Jack "Wildman" Armstrong. After 4,475 matches he got into acting & stunts, movies and television. He wrote to thank Seward for the great times he had there and for his many memories on the basketball, track and weightlifting teams.




It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Catherine Andrews on August 18, 2007. Vibrant and enthusiastic, she was tireless in her work and dedication to the alumni association. She served as secretary, but was also active in many alumni events over the years.

Born in Americas Georgia Catherine moved with her family to Jersey City and then to the lower east side in 1949. She enjoyed her years as a student at Seward Park and made many life long friends there.

In the early eighties she was one of the charter members of the Friends of Seward, an organization that was an outgrowth of those friendships. The group established a scholarship fund that continued until the recent closing of the high school.

Catherine's life was phenomenal in many ways. After receiving a degree in Computer Science from New York University, she began a career at Gerling Global Reinsurance Corporation of America, attaining the position of corporate secretary over both their national and international offices. She was the first woman to hold this position and the first African American.

She was dedicated to her family, church and community, and loved to travel. She had lived in Japan when she was in her early twenties. Two of her proudest moments were the graduation of her niece, Tamika, from Seward Park High School in 1986 and the University of Buffalo in 1991. She raised Tamika as her own from the age of seven.

Catherine will always have a special place in the Seward Park Family galaxy of stars, and will be sorely missed.

Onnie Grier


I am a graduate of SPHS Class of 1991. I am currently deployed to Iraq as a member of the US Army Officer proud to serve since 1993. My Name is Antonio Mitchell but every one called me Tony at Seward. I speak weekly via email to the nicest or meanest faculty member at SPHS depending on your perspective Ms. Loretta Simms. I am so grateful to have attended SPHS and would not trade my HS experience for anything in the world.


My name is Towanna Howard and I was in the graduating class of '95. I was just looking at my year book the other night, and I came across this page today, I must say that I loved my time at Seward Park. My major was dance under the performing arts program with Ms. Weiss who was the dance instructor, and our Principal at the time was Mr. Levine. I also miss and adored my English teacher Mr. Anderson we used to call him Michael Douglas, lol he was the best teacher to this day that I ever had, he made learning exciting he is the reason that I love to read to this day. I was also on the cheerleading squad and I remember the year, I think it was '93 or '94 that we got to go to see the Nets play Atlanta at Continental Arena when Seward Park had a basketball game, it was so much fun, that was the first time I ever been to a live NBA basketball game. I remember all the shows, we did so many dances, we had so many different nights, drama, dance, name it we had it, I tell everyone that I Loved high school even more than college. I am sorry to hear that they had to close Seward, but at least they are still making use of the building, we still need High Schools that make kids really feel like they are at a home away from home, the one things about Seward is that there was always something to do, or always a club to join, you would always have friends there, and the teacher body was always there to listen and encourage the students, I miss our gyms, lol and stage and just having fun. Too all of my fellow graduates, before and after it was fun.

(Ms. Howard welcomes anyone wishing to contact her. Just write us at and we will gladly forward your message.)


We received this note sent to our treasurer, Steve Erikson and to Seymour Weinstein who has generously bestowed scholarships for our deserving students...

"I am Ning Chen, the valedictorian of the class of 2006. It is really a honor and pleasure to write this letter to you. Although Seward Park high school was closed, its spirit and legacy will be carried on among generations of the school. I also want to thank Seymour Weinstein for the award. It has greatly reduced the financial burden my parents and I worry about. And it has also provided me a great opportunity to pursue a higher education, to learn more about life and to succeed. Once again, thanks so much for your generosity. I will make it worthwhile."


We recently heard from Peter Braffman whose father passed away in August 2006. He wanted us to know that his Dad had kept his yearbook all those years as well as numerous alumni newsletters. His father was Lazarus Braffman from our class of 1935. From Seward he went on to CCNY, graduating in 1939, and then served in the Navy in WWII. Following the war, he became a teacher in Brooklyn at Franklin K. Lane, then a principal at Berriman Junior High School in 1963 and ultimately a Principal at I.S. 302 Rafael Codero High School. He retired in 1982. His son would love to hear from anyone who remembers Lazarus Braffman or the class of '35. Just drop us an email at and we will pass it along.


I was first solo clarinet in the orchestra, a position of great prestige. I was to sound the concert 'A' by which the others were to tune their instruments when our teacher, Mrs. Berliner gave me the signal. That was my solo!! Our principal Mr. O'Neal was delivering his speech. Not paying attention and eager for my 'solo' I didn't realize he paused momentarily for some water and at the same time Mrs. Berliner happened to smile at me. Thinking it was my signal I delivered a lovely, resounding tone at that inappropriate moment. Quite a send off !!

    - Bernard Lehrer, `42

My name is Jerry Agrinzoni and I graduated from Seward in 1974. After completing my undergraduate degree at The City College and graduate degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work I worked at various jobs. From substance abuse counseling at the Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation's methadone maintenance program in Harlem (the Starting Point Clinic) to Services for the Underserved (community residential services for mentally ill chemical abusers) to my current employment with the New York City Housing Authority in the Social Services Department, I often look back on my years at Seward fondly. The environment there, the culture of the neighborhood and the students and teachers proved to be as guiding lights, urging me in the direction of wanting to help people. I received a lot of support and guidance from those individuals at Seward who were charged with bringing out each student's talents. So much were they invested in my future that the guidance counselor applied for me to go to The City College, at a time when I was unmotivated to go to any institution of higher learning. Thank goodness for that! And, thank you Seward Park! I'm sorry to see the old school go, and am heartened to see its incarnation ready to guide the youth of today and tomorrow into this new century. I pray that the same supportive environment I had still lives on! If anyone from the class of 1974, or any other year, would like to email me, please do at

    - Jerry Agrinzoni '74

My name is Jacquelyn Anderson and I attended and graduated from Seward Park in 1974. Since that time, I've entered the media. I was a radio newscaster at NJN (WNJT), and have been an on-air radio personality for several years now at stations in New Jersey and Alabama. I currently host "Midday Jazz With Jackie Anderson" at WJAB 90.9 FM, in Huntsville, Alabama. Also, I manage Hammond B3 jazz organist Vince Seneri, who is in the NY/NJ area. His latest CD is "Street Talk", with Grammy-winner Dave Valentin, Houston, Person, and David "Fathead" Newman. We are in the process of planning a world tour. I did get a chance to go to New York back in August, 2005 for my vacation, and had the privilege to drive by Seward Park High with my brother Kenny. I'll be back in New York soon. It brought back many wonderful memories for me! If anyone would like to contact me, my email address is:

    - Jacquelyn Anderson '74

I have very fond and vivid memories of my years at SPHS, not the least of which the year when I brought prestige to the school by having a short story I had written for the school's creative writing publication (called the Folio) won the district prize for Manhattan in a contest sponsored by NYU. At that time, all high schools in each of the boroughs were invited to submit student stories and I had to be persuaded to do so by my then honors English teacher, Miss Lyons. It was a first for the school and it made the faculty and all the students very proud.

    - Mollie Abzug Pier '37


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