About Roosevelt Island

The Child School/Legacy High School Celebrates At 43

Updated 3 years ago David Stone
Diversity: The Child School Flag Project
Diversity: The Child School Flag Project
Photo Courtesy The Child School

The Child School has woven 43 years of success stories through the fabric of our community since its founding on Roosevelt Island in 1973. A few of its most recent lit up Battery Gardens with humor and insight at a gala event on June 1.

Maari de Souza filled a painful gap in public education when she began teaching children with learning disabilities in her apartment. In 1973, responding to growing demand, she gathered her personally developed curriculum and created The Child School.

Later a middle school was added. When the need for coordinating a full primary education under one umbrella demanded it, The Child School/Legacy High School became its formal title in 1996.

Settled in four buildings on Roosevelt Island since 2003, this now state chartered private school is led by Executive Director Vishu Grover with de Souza serving as Director Emerita.

That much said, the real story of The Child School continues in the legacies of the children it has served. Several vivid examples were on display before a gathering of supporters, grateful parents and students at the gala. As graduates who have gone on to college and beyond took the stage, the pride of achievement was eloquently spiced with humor, much of it self-deprecating. One graduate led a band that supported his insightful lyrics, his songs interspersed with playful dialogue about the perils of being different in a world that frequently favors sameness over acceptance.

I was impressed, but also surprised. Nearly twenty years of my early working life was spent helping adults with disabilities land jobs that supported integration into their communities. What The Child School's graduates have to show for themselves surpasses what we considered our highest hopes at that time. The sophistication and self-awareness shown by these young adults demonstrates how far we've come as a society in a very short period.

But we still have some mountains to climb, and if history is any lesson, new mountains will be created.

As guest speaker David Price, from the NBC 4 News Team said, "The Child School is an example of the best that we are" as a culture. "We need more of this."

Price proved to be a deft and, at times, funny speaker, filling in for Geraldo Rivera, who got caught up an unexpected scheduling conflict. As he cracked jokes about being less than the gala's first choice, teased the missing Rivera (a regular on rival Fox) and expressed his regrets about arriving late – after all the food was gone, Price alternated with relevant references to his own family.

"We need to take care of each other in this city," was his key message, relating to The Child School's record of doing good.

No one comes away from events like this without an increased awareness of the efforts invested daily in specialized educational environments nor in their achievements. These serve as reminders of the quiet heroism going on behind the scenes of our busy lives, in many ways making them possible.

Here on Roosevelt Island, we are doubly privileged to be home base for The Child School. As a vital community member, they contribute quietly and mightily to the betterment of all. Their efforts often go unnoticed because the professionals and their charges get their business done unobtrusively with calm effectiveness. Galas such as this strive to insure that the school's successes do not go equally unnoticed.

The Child School/Legacy High School has a graduation rate of 94%, far exceeding what's expected of public schools. And they can use your help to keep it up. Like to contribute to their annual fund? Click here. Next year, you may even attend the annualgala. Who knows? Geraldo might finally show up.

 

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