Hundreds of alums who attended Hunter when it was housed on the thirteenth and fourteenth floors of 466 Lexington Avenue packed a Zoom get-together on Sunday, June 7, 2020.
Music teacher Campbelle Austin opened the event with the HCHS alma mater. Former students then listened raptly to the reminiscences of more than 20 former faculty members who taught at 466 Lex. Teachers, who, it turns out, were often not much older than their students, discussed the challenges as well as the unexpected rewards of working at 466 Lex. While the school had few material resources, an abundance of talent and energy coupled with a willingness to experiment made for a rich high school experience.
Without the amenities of a typical high school, teachers used the city as their classroom. English teacher Janice Sinclair Hodges Warner recalled taking students to one of the chapels of St. John the Divine to read and videotape Everyman. More than one teacher spoke of the pedagogical freedom that the administration gave the faculty. The unconventional quarters of 466 Lex. cultivated camaraderie, many noted, and even romance. Science teachers Tobie Brandriss and Bob Goodman began dating when they shared an office; they married in 1979. In a message to the gathering, social studies teacher Sue Leung Eichler noted that when the school was nearly shuttered in 1972, the 466 Lex. community and well-positioned alumnae launched a “Save Our School” campaign. As a result, the New York State legislature enacted a law that permanently protected the Hunter Campus schools. The hardships that Hunter faced in the 1970s necessitated innovation and fostered a crusade that ultimately ensured the school’s current existence.
After the main event, held in an auditorium much like the one at 466 Lex. (there was none), alums at the 466 reunion participated in smaller breakout sessions with classmates and one or two faculty members at a time.
Ann Starer ’75 conceived of and organized the virtual reunion. Eniko Horvath assisted her. View a video of the festivities.