Some people loved high school, others hated it. I place myself in the former camp; although my years in high school (in my case, 10th through 12th grade, ages 15-18, 1979-1982) were not perfect, I did enjoy them very much and I was very happy with my school. I attended Edward R. Murrow High School in central-southern Brooklyn, New York. When I was there it was a fairly new school, having been established in 1974 in a temporary building. The school moved into its mid-1970s construction and has been in a large brown brick building ever since. From the outside it is not a handsome structure and reflects its time of simplistic and boxy, with some nice touches. However, inside it is light and airy, with an inviting layout, lots of windows in most classrooms, and some particularly good features (large auditorium, planetarium, horticulture section, photo labs, and much more).

This past Saturday, April 25th, the school had an all-years reunion and celebration of its 40th anniversary. I live in the neighborhood and was very excited to attend. I went to shul in the morning (and even had a part in the Shabbat service), and afterward I walked over with my two daughters. In fact, my older daughter is a student there now, a 9th grader,

The day's festivities were so enjoyable. The current principal spoke, as did the previous principal. There was a tribute to the founding principal, and more about him and his tenure shortly. As well, there was a trivia contest about the school's history, musical performances by students (jazz band, gospel choir, classical quartet), a preview of the upcoming musical show ("The Addams Family") with singing and dancing, and more. We also went to a planetarium show, viewed student art exhibits, and checked out other things.

Of course, for alums such as myself, one of the big draws was to see who showed up from our classes. A few women from my year attended and we chatted. I also spoke with alums from the two classes previous to mine, and a few ahead of mine, especially my younger brother's year. He and some of his friends from the class of 1984 were there as well. There were also some retired teachers and staff members, and somehow a few remembered me!

Overall it was a sweet experience, thought-provoking and touching. Two things meant a lot to me in particular. First, I went to visit the Photo Lab, a darkroom for developing film and prints. Yes, the school still has one darkroom for this and does not just teach digital photography programs. In fact, the current principal opened up the lab because a few of us requested it. There were still the various pieces of darkroom equipment such as enlargers, trays, jugs of chemicals, tongs, and other pieces. And that sour chemical smell, which delights photographers but few others! Ahhh.

The other aspect of the day's program was the devoted tribute to the founding principal, Mr. Saul Bruckner. He had earlier taught at two other Brooklyn high schools and had been an administrator at one. But Murrow was his vision and his ongoing educational experiment. For more than twenty years he shepherded the school and the students with a certain style that I have never seen elsewhere. Always clad in a suit with a plastic name tag that read "S. Bruckner, Principal" he did not just sit in an office. He did not just teach one class. (I was a student in his Advanced Placement United States History class.) He walked the halls and kept order and really knew what was going on. He would pick up garbage from the floors or ask us to pitch in, which we certainly did. He would ask every student, and I mean, EVERY STUDENT, his or her name and "which junior high sprung you." He got to know every student, every staff member, and would interact with us all. He would praise, cajole, nag, scold, encourage. He asked me to join a particular school group, called Consultative Council, and I certainly joined it.

At the school's 30th anniversary celebration I walked up to him, with my husband and daughters in tow. He looked at me, asked me one question, and then said my name. My husband's mouth dropped open. How could a principal remember his students from decades earlier? This man could.

Sadly, he died when he was only in his mid 70s and there has been no one else like him. However, his influence is still felt and people speak so highly of him.

And I do not think it is a coincidence that this man was a Brooklyn Jew, who grew up in New York City's public schools and then chose to make his career as an educator. Being an educator in NYC is not easy. Being an exceptionally good and inspiring educator is even harder to achieve. Mr. Bruckner was a real mensch, and all his many graduates are a testament to his hard work. And his dry jokes, delivered with a biselle finesse, are still recalled fondly.

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