CHAPTER TWO - G.W. Wingate High School


George W. Wingate High School was a critical point in my life as I discovered many of those in control and power are totally screwed up, haven’t a clue and couldn’t run a free water store in the Gobi desert.

George W. Wingate High School is a defunct comprehensive high school in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Wingate neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York City.  It opened in 1956 and was finally closed down in June 2006 due to poor academic performance ( thats their call ) and years of some severe dangerous problems ( like stabbings and racial disparity, poor staff, incompetence of the system, my call)

The school today was then divided into four small schools.  The school was named for George Wood Wingate, an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War.  I don’t believe 99% of the school knew who he was and the other 1% really didn’t give a damn.  

The campus now houses four new small schools under the New Visions for Public Schools initiative of the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE). There are the International Arts Business School, The School for Human Rights, The School for Democracy and Leadership and the High School for Public Service: Heroes of Tomorrow.  

G. W. Wingate was a problem to begin with.  It was more of an experiment in race relations.  The brainstorm was to mix kids from a notoriously bad neighborhood with kids from another community and “ something might rub off”.

It bordered on two communities in the Lefferts Gardens area.  To the North, it was a community called Bedford–Stuyvesant.  We called it the ghetto, it was.  Almost predominantly a very poor under-classed and unsupported neighborhood  (almost 110% black).  Gang ridden and high crimes and dangerous.  Lefferts Gardens was on the other hand relatively middle class and low to medium crime rates,  mixed ethnicities and a tough Italian crew.

It never worked...  The collision, came for the East and south where we had a middle class white neighborhood mostly Italian, Jewish, Irish, few Puerto Rican and Chinese, a nice mix of middle income predominantly white with smaller minorities.  The address of the school told the whole story.  600 Kingston Avenue, was literally a borderline.  It was a clash before it even got started.  Think of it as the 38th parallel of Korean fame.

The City saw it differently, a few idealist Board of Education and forward thinkers called politicians decided if we filled Wingate with exactly 50% black kids and 50% white kids, by three o’clock they would all be singing Kumbaya and dancing in the streets.  It was hailed as the first truly numerical racially correct School in the United States.  It was also in the top ten of bad schools in NY.

In some cases by 3:00 PM it was bricks and chains in the streets and considered a location for the movie of the bestseller, book and movie,  the “ Blackboard Jungle” which went to a different school for the movie.

II worked with the basketball team, and two student semi-run Organizations I was put in charge of,  I arbitrated two sides for peaceful purpose and thats all I will say about that.  Oh, we won a few championships beating two teams from schools (all boys) with a greater player pool in the All-City Championships. And my two organizations did well. 

Years past with an uneasiness and problems galore which I won’t go into.  I followed Wingate because my brother was five years behind me attending there nothing really changed, a record of violence and problems.  Frankly I hated the place.

"It has had a higher number of incidents over the last couple of years than the average school," Mr. X said. “  that’s why it was made a part of the metal detection program early on."  Metal detectors, are devices used to search for knives, guns and other weapons, are in 41 of the city’s 125 high schools in a program that began in the 1988.  Wingate was among eight schools added in the 1989-90 year.  Teachers union officials and other critics said the program’s effectiveness is poor because the scanners are used to inspect students randomly.