HISTORY OF RALPH R. McKEE CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION HIGH SCHOOL
Vocational education on Staten Island dates from 1920, in which year Mr. James Harrigan undertook to organize courses for a continuation school on the North Shore of Staten Island.
The Journal of the Board of Education indicates that there had been some thought given to such a project as early as 1918, reference being made to the possible purchase of the Standard Varnish Company’s Elm Park Office.
The actual steps taken to implement this program are shown by the record of March 10, 1920 (Journal of the Board of Education) wherein the Board of Education authorized the organization of the Staten Island Continuation and Vocational School No. 1, in available rooms in PS 20, Port Richmond and PS 1, Tottenville.
When this program was begun, marking the advent of the continuation school on Staten Island, Mr. Harrigan says, “There was no building, no supplies, and no equipment!”
In spite of this frightening outlook for a new enterprise, the continuation and vocational school within a short time was in operation, offering four hours or instruction weekly to Island children who had left school to obtain employment.
Mr. Arthur Martens, who was a member of the first staff, has s copy of the original time book, which shows six teachers including the Principal. These were James Harrigan, Mary T. Caveney, Edna A. Farnsworth, Watson F. Keeney, Arthur Martens and Reba J. Miller. Maxwell Ehrilich later joined the staff. The school was opened April 12, 1920.
Referring to the Board of Education Journal again, on September 29, 1920, a report of classes at the Staten Island Continuation and Vocation School lists 5 academic classes, 1 commercial class of high school course, 1 dressmaking class, 1 woodworking class, and 1 class in sewing (authorized by not in operation). The registration was 345 in PS 20, and, to be enrolled in PS 1 annex, 100. The estimated compulsory attendance by December 1, 1922 was given as 2,000.
The Journal records on December 14, 1920, that additional rooms for the Staten Island Continuation School were approved in PS 4 (Kreischerville), and PS 8 (Great Kills), at the request of Mr. Harrigan.
Thus it is seen that under Mr. Harrigan’s leadership, the classes were growing, and a capable staff was being developed.
Expanding the Vocational Program
The principal of the Continuation School was always a friend of youth. This interest was the cause of expanding the continuation program into vocational fields. “When a number of continuation school students lost their jobs,” Mr. Harrigan reminisced, “several of them applied for permission to attend school on a full time basis, instead of four hours a week. That marked the beginning of planning for a vocational training program.”
He was a politician in the sense of being a good mixer and having many worthwhile contacts and valued associates among business and professional men. “I went to see the late Anning S. Prall, who was then president of the Board of Education and a fellow Staten Islander, about obtaining additional facilities. As a result of that visit, the City purchased the Standard Varnish Company’s office in Elm Park for a vocational school. When the school opened in 1924, it appeared as if there would be ample facilities for a good many years to come. Yet within two years we had 250 pupils registered and before it was supplanted by McKee there were terms when between 600 and 700 pupils were carried on its registration roll.”
The Elm Park School was the first public school in New York City to have full-time classes in vocational work, according to a statement in the Souvenir Program published on the occasion of Mr. Harrigan’s retirement in 1942.
Mr. Harrigan’s Dream of a New School
As the vocational school filled to overflowing, Mr. Harrigan dreamed of a new school building – a mammoth plant by comparison – devoted entirely to vocational training. However, he didn’t spend much time in dreaming. He went out and enlisted various civic organizations to aid him in appeals to the city fathers for such a structure.
And here he found another of those key men who have helped this school throughout its history: Ralph R. McKee.
At the school’s first Commencement in 1937, in the building we now know as McKee, one of the speakers stated that the Commencement Exercises were the fulfillment of a 23 year old dream, “for it was that long ago that a group of Island men, business and civic leaders, met in the Staten Island Club, across the street from McKee High School and started the ball rolling toward a unified system of vocational education.”
The speaker went on to state that the sponsor of that first movement of the late Ralph R. McKee. From the discussions of those early days, he carried his project through to fulfillment. McKee was not satisfied with namby-pamby planning in committee rooms the spokesman said. He organized meetings on Staten Island and carried his cause right to the meetings of the Board of Education, of which he was Vice President.
In 1928, in an address at Port Richmond, Commissioner McKee promised that the City would build a new vocational high school building at St. George.
Thus was Mr. Harrigan’s dream by way of becoming true.
On October 16, 1929, the city of New York purchased the McKee Vocational High School site at St. Marks Place and Wall Street for $160,000, bringing visible evidence of progress in the fight for this school. The site was purchased from the executors of the William Horrmann estate, having originally belonged to Eckstein Norton.
An Empty School Building
However, it was not until August 4, 1931, nearly two years later, that bids for erection of the building were opened, and the building itself was not completed until early in 1933, at the cost of $700,000. The cost up to this point was $860,000. Then came the snag. The City did not have the money to equip and furnish its valuable real estate investment. The new school stood empty until 1935. The building was occupied by W.P.A. as headquarters for two years in the interim.
Plans for equipment were submitted on January 23, 1932, and everyone was encouraged. As early as September 1933, Commissioner McKee predicted that the new school “might open within thirty day.” However, this was not to be.
Finally the situation came to public attention when the pupils of the Vocational High School at Elm Park, embittered at being crowded into inadequate quarters when a fine school awaited them, undertook to protest by waging a “strike” and, on March 26, 1935, they moved on Borough Hall, to insist that the Vocational School building at St. George be opened. Federal funds and other funds were unavailable, tied up in yards of red tape (SI Advance).
The agitation bore some fruit. Within a month, permission to open the school was obtained for such facilities as were available. The official opening date was May 1, 1935.
The Visitors Book in the Principal’s Office contains an important entry attested to by Mr. Morris E. Siegle, Director of Continuation and evening Schools, now Assistant Superintendent of the Vocational Division. This entry reads: May 1-35 The school was opened the beautiful May first with the following staff:
- James A. Harrigan, Principal
- Morris E. Siegel, Director of Evening and Continuation Schools
- John J. D’Alesandre
- Olga E. Aberli
- Frances G. Conlon
- Lily B. Dyett
- Maxwell Ehrlich
- Catherine Muntz
- Mary M. Seested
- Reba J. Miller
- Frances DeBiase
- Margaret V. Lynch
- Mary M. Malley
- Irene E. Milverney
- Olive H. Sanderson
Among officials who signed the Visitors Book on the above date were Francis Mahoney, Supervisor; Ralph R. McKee, Frank Hankinson, Assistant Superintendent; and Isabel A. Ennis, Assistant Director. The first classes started on May 6, 1935. Two hundred girls were the first pupils to attend the Staten Island Vocational High School in the new building. They were the pioneers who entered the school on the historic date of May 3rd. They carried books and supplies from Elm Park to the new building at St. George “The cafeteria under Miss Olga Aberli’s direction,” says the Advance, “was of necessity one of the first departments to be organized.” Miss Lucille McLarty aided in this organization. Among Miss Aberli’s able student assistants at that time were Louise DeHart, Helen Huscha, and Marion Doviken. Miss Aberli had been at the Continuation School since 1925, when she succeeded Miss Edna Farnsworth as a teacher in Homemaking., Miss Farnsworth left to take charge of Brooklyn Girls Continuation School for Homemaking.
Other members of our present staff who later joined the faculty here from the annexes are Miss Mary C. Regan appointed to the Staten Island Continuation School in 1926, Mrs. Martha Taylor (1930); Mr. Frank Miccio, Miss Hannah Meyerowitz, Mr. Fergus A. Biberstein, Mrs. Catherine Bannon, Mr. William B. Gallo, Mr. Walter E. Heap. Mr. Knute M. Gulowsen, Mrs. Lucille McLarty Holler, Mrs. Dorothy D. Russell.
A Regents Chartered High School
It was a proud day when the Staten Island Vocational High School, as it was officially designated, received a Charter as an Industrial High School, from the University of the State of New York. This certificate from the Regents of the University is dated May 17, 1935
Hopes were high as the school was opened in September 1935 for full registration. Twelve hundred students were registered for the Fall term. Miss Mary M. Whalen, as administrative assistant, aided in organizing the school, assisted by the following appointed teachers, Mrs. Katherine Tredwell Butler, Mrs. Dorothy D. Russell, Miss Olga Aberli, Mr. William Gallo, Mr. Fred Stevens, Miss Catherine Muntz, Miss Mary Seested, Mr. Maxell Ehrlich, Mr. John D’Alessandre, and Mr. Knute M. Gulowsen. It should be noted that Mr. D’Alessandre had been assigned to the school from Elm Park for two years previous to its opening, and that he had aided in planning its equipment and installations. Mr. D’Alessandre and Miss Miller and Miss Whalen had also been invaluable in checking supplies for the full term.
The various shops and departments were organized and operating within a few days of the Fall opening. At this time each shop had its own chairman, Mr. Gallo being Printing Chairman; Mr. D’Alessandre, Electrical Chairman; Mr. Heap, Heating and Sanitation Chairman; Mr. Gulowsen, Auto Mechanics Chairman; Mr. Stevens, Machine Shop Chairman; Miss Aberli, Home Economics Chairman; there was no technical department at that time.
A number of capable substitute teachers helped in this opening period, including Miss Mary Mally, Mrs. Evelyn McGarr, Mrs. Helen Serena Pittinos, Miss Elizabeth Cahalaine, Miss Anna Aperance, Miss Margaret Bozella in charge of Beauty Culture, Mrs. Lily B. Dyettm, Sewing, Miss Frances Di Biase, in Crafts.
The Teachers Institute, (1935-1938), known as the William J. Hampton Memorial, affiliated for a time with New York University, inaugurated professional courses for teachers in the Fall of 1935, with classes in the Vocational High School building. It was while Dr. Vernon B. Hampton of Port Richmond High School was directing these courses, which were endorsed by the Staten Island Teachers Association and approved as “In Service” courses by the Board of Education, that Mr. Harrigan invited him to organize and become Chairman of the Academic Department, which included the English, Social Science, Health Education, Music and Library Departments. Dr. Hampton transferred to this school on October 1, 1935. He was the author of several books, a former candidate for Congress, and a civic leader in Staten Island for many years.
The new school began to draw other teachers to it. Among those who were appointed to the school in the same month of October 1935, were Mr. P. Francis Edgar, in Printing and Mr. Roy H. Tolfsen, in the Auto Shop.
Staten Island Vocational High School, as it was officially designated, was at last housed in its attractive new building, and it had a staff of old and new teachers, but was still greatly undermanned. Twenty more teachers were needed. In addition, the 1200 students discovered that some of the courses they had come for could not be given because of lack of equipment. There were not books enough for the academic classes. In several shops equipment was not installed or power was not connected so that the machines could operate. Substitutes, WPA assistants, and even volunteer teachers serving without pay, aided the regular staff during the opening period which proved hectic beyond any thing imaginable (Staten Island Advance).
The lack of equipment after the long delay in opening and lack of sufficient teachers challenged the staff and the Principal. With new members who shared the burden of the fight for adequate facilities, Mr. Harrigan inaugurated a drive and put pressure on ably supported by Commissioner McKee, who had fought so long and so hard for the vocational school.
The Staten Island Advance came to the support of the school in its struggle to get out from under the burdens of the critical period. A series of articles of conditions tore the situation wide open, and brought to the attention of the Board of Education the seriousness of the plight.
Action was the watch-word in a terrific one week expose.
In six days after attention was focused upon the need according to the Advance of October 26, 1935, the red tape had been cut, departmental routine speeded up, supplies and other needs fulfilled, and even teacher acquisitions assured. “And,” declared the Advance, “the moving power back of the sudden activity was Ralph R. McKee.” He and his secretary, Thomas O’Brien, made the telephone wires hum between his office on Staten Island and the Education Department offices. McKee explained over the phone what was needed in the school, and he learned what must be done to meet these needs. Then he issued peremptory orders that the necessary steps be taken to correct the faulty conditions. His orders bore results as early as the following day and thereafter more conditions were quickly straightened out.
The new equipment and installations brought the total cost of the new Vocational High School building to a million and a half dollars.
A break-down of the report on the total cost of McKee discloses the following statistics:
Site and expenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $160,185.00
Cost of Building and Mechanical Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . $1,007,272.96
Furniture and Structural Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255,238.31
Total Cost of McKee Vocational High School . . . . . . . . . . . . $1,422,696.27
Three friends of the school who helped through all this period were Dr. William E. Grady, Associate Superintendent, head of the Vocational Division; Mr. Morris E. Siegel, who was a resident of Staten Island; and Dr. Frank Hankinson, Assistant Superintendent.
Death of Ralph R. McKee
During the struggle for functional operation of the school, Commissioner McKee’s health was failing. In fact, he was a sick man before he began to see correction of the continued delays in what he considered as “his school.” In spite of his illness, he kept right on. Friends who saw him remarked on his grave condition. His courage was apparent to the writer who saw him at his home a day or so before he died. The author and Mrs. Hampton had also visited him and Mrs. McKee the month before at Twilight Park, the beautiful McKee summer home at Haines Falls in the Catskills.
All Staten Island and New York were shocked to learn of Commissioner Ralph R. McKee’s death on Saturday, October 26th, the very day the article was published telling of his great work for the Vocational High School. An inspiring tribute was paid to his memory by Dr. Harold G. Campbell, Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Grady, the Board of Education, and other city officials attended the funeral services in the St. John’s Episcopal Church, Rosebank, Staten Island.
Undoubtedly the greatest memorial was the naming of the Vocation High School in his honor.
On Monday, October 28th, immediately following Mr. McKee’s death, Mr. Harrigan called a meeting of the faculty. Dr. Hampton proposed a resolution calling for the naming of the school in the Commissioner’s memory, and he was authorized to draw up such a resolution to be forwarded on behalf of the faculty to the Board of Education. The resolution read as follows:
A RESOLUTION FOR NAMING THE “RALPH R. McKEE VOCATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL.”
In the death of Ralph Rappe McKee, Vice President of the Board of Education, the City of New York has lost a devoted servant. Serving in public office for a quarter of a century, he exemplified the truism first enunciated by Thomas Jefferson in 1804: “When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.” Ralph R. McKee, during fourteen years as a member of the Board of Education, was truly the property of the children, the parents and the teachers. No question was too difficult to be grappled with, not task to onerous to be assumed.
He felt that, among offices of the public trust in human government, the administration of education offered some of the gravest responsibilities.
During a residence of forty-one years in Staten Island, he came to know the educational needs of the borough intimately. The results of his supervision may be seen in the erection during his terms in office of thirteen grade school buildings, additions to Curtis High school, the building of the Port Richmond High School and Vocation High School, two new high schools on the South Shore now under construction, additions to several elementary schools, and erection of numerous temporary structures. These educational facilities constitute a collective monument to the memory of Ralph Rappe McKee.
But in a more intimate way, the Staten Island Vocational High School became his problem and his pride. It was his answer to the needs of the new day. The light of his life went out as he spent his last hours fighting successfully for the further assistance for the Vocational School which he fathered.
It would seem a fitting memorial to one who so well served the people of Staten Island and New York City to name this institution “The Ralph R. McKee Vocational High School.” The faculty of the Staten Island Vocational High School respectfully requests the Board of Education to give consideration to this proposal.
Katherine Treadwell Butler
Dorothy D. Russell
Mary M. Whalen
Vernon B. Hampton, Chairman
October 28, 1935 Committee on Resolution
Action on the Resolution was taken by the Board of Education on November 27, 1935, and the new school became Commissioner McKee’s memorial, as the Ralph R. McKee Vocational High School. Its graduates and former students are carrying on the tradition of service and sacrifice around the world, as these traits were exemplified by the one whose name the school proudly bears.
The school library was established in 1935, special effort being directed toward that end to conform to the application for a State Charter. Mr. Harrigan first obtained a Miss Grannis from WPA. She was followed by Miss Margaret Greenberg. In February 1937, regularly licensed school librarians were appointed to all vocational high schools for the first time. Miss Frances Hankinson came to McKee from Tottenville High School on a transfer at that time. When the school was formally dedicated, June 10, 1936, Dr. William E. Grady, Associate Superintendent of Schools, spoke of Mr. McKee with affection. He also disclosed that Mr. McKee nursed a secret desire to have the St. George school named after him.
“Mr. McKee didn’t ask to have the school so named, but I knew that it was in his heart. He endeared himself to us by his spirit, tolerance, and his interest in schools. He lived with the school. Justice and mercy were combined in every decision he made, I am sure.”
Hence the resolution and subsequent action fulfilled a cherished wish of this departed friend.
It is a special significance that the Shield Emblem of the Vocational High School is the McKee Family coat-of-arms.
The school was fortunate from the beginning in its genial Custodial Engineer, Mr. High Jennings, who cooperated with the Principal and faculty and who took justifiable pride in the fine building and valuable equipment in his charge.
The McKee High School continued to operate annexes, at Elm Park and Mount Loretta. Miss Etta G. Connelly was the capable director and teacher in charge of these annexes. Important milestones in the development of the school marked the activities of the first year of the history of the school. On November 13, 1935, the first Parent Teachers Association was organized, with Mr. L. C. Roberts, President; Mrs. E. C. Franke, Vice President; Mr. P. Francis Edgar, Secretary; and Mr. Walter E. Heap, Faculty Advisor.
The First School Publications
Steps were taken by the Academic Chairman to establish a school newspaper, and in November, 1935, Miss Seested was named faculty advisor of the first newspaper, to be published and printed by students of McKee Vocational High School. Mr. Gallo was the printing advisor. The first issue appeared in December, 1935. The paper was subsequently named the “McKee News.”
Another “first” was the establishment of the literary and art magazine, “The Dynamo,” which was authorized at the Academic Departmental Conference for February 1936. Miss Mary Cole was appointed faculty advisor. The first issue, containing poems, stories, adventure articles, wood-cuts, etc., appeared in June 1936. Dan McGrady was editor, Ruth Jud, Assistant; Miss Cole and Mr. Allan Miller, Advisors.
In order to group pupils in the ensuing term, according to ability and achievement, 1200 Intelligence tests and an equal number of English Achievement tests were administered in December 1935. The object of the latter tests was also to inaugurate remedial work in English. Syllabus adopted.
English Syllabi and Courses of Study were adopted by the English Department, Dr. Hampton consulting with Ms. Anna M. Meade, First Assistant at Port Richmond, and Miss Mabel Abott, First Assistant at Curtis, and with Brooklyn Technical High School officials, among others.
Courses of study were also adopted by the Shop Departments under the guidance of the various Shop chairman, in consultation with State and Divisional officials.
Club activities and athletics were also organized in the first year of the school. Gamma Tau, a social club, was started by Mrs. Russell in March 1936. This later became the Honor Society of the school. At the first annual party of Gamma Tau, Vincent Ladell, a singer and Lillian McNiesh, dancer, were among the performers. Ladell is today a well-known radio singer. He was a student at McKee in 1935-36.
The Glee Club staged its first appearance in March 1936, before the Parent Teachers Association. The Motion Picture club was organized the same year under Miss Norma Scheinberg’s guidance. It was recognized by the National Board of Review, and also connected the Staten Island Better Films Council, which sent film guides and literary articles to the club. The Dance Club was established in March also directed by Miss Ann Aperance.
The first meeting of the School Orchestra was held February 10, 1936, among those attending being Edward Baron and John Savarese.
Sports Activities 1936
Mr. Herbert Sutter was the first athletic instructor and coach at McKee. In 1936, the Basketball team took the Vocational League Championship.
Among the various excursions taken by classes during that first eventful year, the Printers visited the Daily News Building in New York, on March 27, 1936, accompanied by Mr. Edgar and Mr. Saul Geffner. The Chemistry classes under Mr. Mathews and Mr. Thompson visited Hayden Planetarium on May 8, 1936; the Beauty Culture Classes visited the Hairdressers Convention at the Hotel Pennsylvania under Miss Bossella on October 22, 1936; and in December the Auto Mechanics classes accompanied by Mr. Tolfsen and Mr. Gulowsen, attended the Ford Auto Show at Hotel Astor.
Miss Aberli baked the school’s first birthday cake, May 3, 1936. Mr. Harrigan and Miss Whalen presided at the birthday festivities in the Tea Room, with the faculty participating in the anniversary collation.
In June 1936, the McKee News received the Award of the Quill and Scroll for the excellence of the newspaper. This was a fitting way in which to close the school year.
The library received an appropriation of $5000 to purchase books in the Spring of 1936. The acting Librarian, Miss Margaret Greenberg, and conducted the Library for nearly a year, but it was felt that additional assistance in selecting and ordering the books to cover the appropriation was necessary. Technical and shop subjects, social science and English were all included in the order. Of great assistance was Miss Frances Hankinson, who comes from a family of Staten Island educators and is the daughter of former Assistant Superintendent Dr. Frank Hankinson. She gave up part of her vacation from the New York Public Library to help in the placement of the order. Subsequently, Miss Hankinson became the McKee Librarian, as we have seen.
A splendid commentary on the relative value of vocational and academic training as it appeared to be working out at McKee, is contained in the Annual Report of Dr. Frank Hankinson, Assistant Superintendent, for the year 1935-36.
“We need many more vocational schools,” said Dr. Hankinson, “and the fullest opportunities should be given that our students may fit themselves to live in the world of today. It would be a calamity, however, if the impression should be given to the students in the schools, and to their parents, that a vocational school is the only one worthwhile. A boy may be trained to become the best electrician in the city or the most capable builder in America, but if that is all that he gets from his schooling he is not necessarily a good citizen. He must have the academic training that the world accepts as the necessary mental endowment of the educated man, or he is of little worth to society outside of his working hours.”
“When our new vocational program in this city has been in operation long enough to make an evaluation in it, the first test of which I would apply would be to determine whether or not those in charge of the work have seen to it that, along with the valuable vocational work, there has been a constant stress upon mental training – to turn out men and women who with their skills of hand, their preparation for office work, or whatever they have acquired to make them independent so far as their daily occupation will be concerned, have also been trained to think, have been given some of the knowledge that the world calls precious, much of which must come from books.
These goals, so cogently expressed by Dr. Hankinson, have been the goals toward which McKee Vocational High School has steadily steered, although at times the way has been rough.
Mr. Walter D. Wood transferred to McKee in September 1936 from Stuyvesant High School. An exceptional woodworking instructor, he was also well-known as an architect and a community leader, a clubman, and a sportsman. Others who came at this time were Mr. Phillip Becker from Textile High School and Mr. Allen Ehrenrich from the Buffalo, NY school system.
Mrs. Mary L. B. Smith transferred from Tottenville High School to McKee also in September 1936. She formerly taught at Public School 30 in Westerleigh. Mrs. Smith became chairman of the English Department.
The first Dramatic Society was organized October 29, 1936, under the joint direction of Mrs. McGarr and Mr. Miller, a Thanksgiving Day play was given in November 1936 in the auditorium, the first of several productions by the youthful thespians.
Also in the fall of 1936, Thomas McKee, grandson of the late Mr. Ralph McKee and Mrs. McKee and son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Lowe McKee matriculated at McKee High School, entering the printing course. He subsequently became Editor of the McKee News, and an active leader in many of the school’s events. Following graduation, he attended New York University and in due course entered the Armed Forces of the United States.
The new school song, Alma Mater, written by James S. Baron, was presented to the school by his sons, Edward and Richard Baron. It was received with enthusiasm and became the traditional marching song of McKee.
McKee Shops Featured in the News
A full page of the Advance, December 7, 1936, featured McKee and its shops and courses. The feature page was replete with pictures of activities in the school. The reporter who visited McKee with enthusiastic, declaring “We’re sold on McKee . . . it’s the most practical and valuable idea the Board of Education ever had. You might be taking a course in cafeteria and tearoom management or you might be learning automobile mechanics – but you’ll spend three hours a day studying English, mathematics, science, history, drawing, music and physical training.
“The equipment and fixtures of the beauty culture classroom are enough to turn a French coiffeur green with envy . . .”
“We sat on a sofa opposite the fireplace in the living room of the home-making apartment and completely forgot we were in a school.”
“A bride’s apartment has nothing on these rooms. The bedroom of the home-making apartment, the dining room and living room are furnished in maple in early American Colonial design . . .”
“Mmm, we wish you could smell the aroma of spices and corn muffins in the cooking room at McKee. Some of the girls were taking muffins and biscuits out of the oven and others were mixing the dough for more. We passed a tray of baked potatoes, split open on top with blobs of butter on the fluffy interiors.”
According to the reporter, the crafts and sewing classes had an array of articles displayed in their rooms. They were getting ready for a Christmas sale. “Perky little copper candle sticks and ash trays and beautiful woven rugs are some of the crafts students’ produced.”
“The girls in the sewing class were working on luncheon cloths, dresses, and bridge sets. We saw a gay luncheon set in fringe Scotch plaid gingham, and a pair of warm mitts. Handmade chamois and fabric gloves were works of art.”
“Smocks to wear in the class are the first things made by sewing students. After that they advance to sport, afternoon and evening dresses, pajamas and blouses.”
The machine shop was a place of particular fascination with huge whirring machines. Fred Stevens of Great Kills, instructor, explained that the machines are lathes, drill presses, milling machines, shapers and grinders.
“We remember our Longfellow when we saw the forge and anvil at one end or the room. These are used for heating and shaping the metal for tools.”
“The boys were oblivious to visitors in the room. The work, apparently, was more interesting to them than anything else.”
The reporter indicated a number of other courses offered to boys anxious to learn trades. Automobile mechanics, woodworking, electrical construction, electrical testing, motor and generator operating, printing, heating and sanitation, and sheet metal work are some of the subjects.
McKee Students Win State and City Honors
McKee students began to appear among the winners of contest and competitions during the fall of 1936. The first students to win a citywide contest were Barbara Frank and Virginia Benhami, who won first prize and fourth prize respectively in the New York State Chamber of Commerce essay contest in November 1936, on the subject, “The Opportunities Which This Country Affords to Make Good.” Awards were presented December 11, 1936 in New York, by Winthrop W. Aldrich.
Ruth Kiena won first place in McKee in the New York Journal “Roosevelt Inaugural Tour Historical Competition,” which was also conducted during December. The head of the History Department was selected to attend the Inaugural as one of the three hosts to the nationwide winners by the New York Journal. This was the first inaugural under the 20th Amendment, January 1937.
When Mr. Harrigan took a sabbatical leave in the spring term, 1937, Dr. William E. Grady appointed a Supervisory Committee to administer and supervise the McKee School. This was the first time a Supervisory Committee had been designated to conduct a school in place of a principal. The committee comprised of Miss Whalen, Administrative Assistant; Dr. Hampton, supervising academic subjects; and Mr. Fergus Biberstein, in charge of boys’ shops. The Supervisory Committee received letters of commendation at the end of the term from Dr. Grady and Mr. Morris E. Siegel.
A citywide observance of Edwin Markham’s birthday was held in April 1937. McKee was honored by two visits from the poet. He spoke at a special assembly in his honor.
After his visit, Mr. Markham sent a special autograph greeting to the school. It is framed with his autographed portrait and may be seen in the school library.
Mr. Markham’s second visit to the school was in May, during the Open House of the schools. He toured the various shops, which were in operation, examined art work on display, and complimented the girls who took part in a fashion show in the auditorium. Everywhere as he went through the crowded corridors and halls, and in the room, he was greeted by throngs of friends and well-wishers.
Two thousand parents and friends of McKee visited the school during the Open House which was held May 27, 1937.
Student Council Organized in 1936
Additional club activities were in evidence during this second year. The first Student Council had been organized September 29, 1936, under the direction of Mrs. Katherine T. Butler. The officers were John Lenza, President; Vivian Schwall, Vice President. On the Executive Committee were Kathleen Aspinall, William Freund, and Walter Sawler.
The Home Economics Club was organized December 1937 by Mrs. Frances Weiss and Miss Meredith Clapper, and it became affiliated with the American Home Economics Association.
Other clubs included the Pan American Club, Miss Janet Decker in charge; the Civics Club, Miss Aperance, Advisor; the Theodore Roosevelt Club, Mr. William Comiskey, Advisor; the History Club, Dr. Hampton, Advisor; the Debating Club, Mrs. Smith, Advisor. These all began in 1937. In 1938, Miss Sarah Strier organized the Pen Club, and Miss Malley developed the Theatre Club. The Public Speaking Club was sponsored by Dr. Hampton.
The Senior Class was organized in February 1937, looking toward the first graduation to take place in June. John Lenza became Senior Class President; Vivian Schwall, Vice President; Virginia Behanm, Secretary; and Charles Marshall, Treasurer. The Senior Advisors of the first senior class were Mrs. Adele Smith of the Art Department and Mr. Walter Heap of the Heating and Sanitation Department.
Although Mr. Harrigan was absent on leave, the first graduation was held on June 23, 1937, Miss Whalen being in charge. The speakers at this eventful commencement were Municipal Court Justice John C. Boylan and Mr. Morris E. Siegel, Director of Evening and Continuation Schools. The Valedictorian was John Lenza and the Salutatorian was Virginia Benham.
Additional teacher transfers to the school of significance occurred during the year according to the school paper. On February 1, 1937, Mr. David F. Coleman of Tottenville, well-known civic leader and a popular science teacher of Stuyvesant High School, transferred to McKee. Mr. George F. Orthey, active in Brooklyn and on the Island transferred from Brooklyn Technical High School. From the same institution came Mr. Jacob Homer, who was widely known in American Legion circles and in civic endeavors in Richmond Borough.
School Serves the Community
Rotary and Kiwanis each accepted Mr. Harrigan’s invitation to hold a luncheon at the Tea Room of the school, and were served fine repasts. The clubs were taken on tours of the new school building, and were generous in their praise. In this way, Mr. Harrigan paid back in some measure for the support they had given him in his drive for the vocational high school during the years of its planning and inception.
The Staten Island Council of Girl Scouts held its annual banquet at the school, November 18, 1937. The girls of the Tea Room class served the banquet, which was prepared in its entirely by the students and homemaking staff. The courses served would have done credit to Oscar of the Waldorf, as the Advance said editorially.
The Advance Editorial continued: “Several of the three hundred guests who attended the first annual banquet of the Staten Island Council of Girl Scouts tell us they were served the best turkey dinner they had ever eaten at a public affair.
“The dinner was prepared and served by students of the Home Economics Department of McKee Vocational High School in the school cafeteria.
“The menu included, among other good things, real, honest-to-goodness beef bouillon soup such as Grandman used to make, turkey that would melt in your mouth, delicious baked squash, and homemade plum pudding followed by coffee that proved to be a fitting climax to a perfect meal.
“Maybe some of our restaurateurs who’re wondering what happened to their old customers had better look to McKee for future chefs.”
In the field of sports, Mr. Theseus “Dodd” Copeland, who had helped Mr. George Newblat with the gym and athletic program during 1936-37, also organized a track team which represented McKee creditably. Newblat produced a championship basketball team; Mr. Raymond Stock became coach of the tennis team, which was organized in 1937; Copeland also had a golf team wearing McKee colors. During the 1938 spring baseball season, the baseball team won the Vocational League Championship under Newblat’s leadership and coaching.
Bowling became a major sport at McKee under Mr. Walter Wood’s leadership. The bowling team and bowling league participated in by other high schools of the borough was organized in 1937. On December 9, 1937, the Coliseum in Port Richmond was the scene of one of the most spectacular indoor tournaments ever held among the Island high schools.
Jim Halliday, Advance sports columnist, wrote of the affair: “As forecast by Walter Wood, tournament director, the first annual Staten Island High School bowling classic went over with a bang yesterday afternoon at the Coliseum. A large and noisy crowd attended and saw 12 teams swing into action, aided by cheerleaders and bands. Woody set the stage carefully and everything ran smoothly from start to finish.
“Wood, who represented McKee Vocational, was assisted by Frank Cassidy of New Dorp, Francis Dolan of Port Richmond, and Chaffee Saunders of Tottenville.”
In this and subsequent seasons, Joe Terefenke and Eileen Courtney became McKee bowling stars, the latter outstanding as a girl bowler, who even got a special write-up in the metropolitan press.
New blood in the athletic leadership came to McKee at this time. Mr. George Eiss was appointed to the school as Health Education instructor in September 1938. He had captained the 1932 Curtis basketball team and in 1936 the NYU cross country team. He became coach of the McKee basketball team, which in 1938 won the Vocational League City Championship.
Mr. Morris Blumin was appointed to McKee in October 1938, also in the Health Education Department. He came from Curtis High School, having previously been a physical training teacher at Public School 45, West New Brighton.
A nursery school was inaugurated in September 1938 in the Homemaking Department, conducted by Miss Meredith Clapper. The nursery school was operated until February 1942 when the war situation caused this phase of Homemaking care to be discontinued.
McKee G.O. is Organized 1938
An important question was asked in the Question Box of the McKee News in May 1937. It was, “What essential activities do you think our school lacks?” Two of the answers were challenging and made leaders of the school sit up and take notice. Dan McGrady, a senior, replied, “This school should have a General Organization!” and, Kay Aspinall, a junior, put down two things she deemed important: “1. General Organization. 2. Football team.”
The agitation for the General Organization finally came to a head, and Mr. Harrigan bowed to the will of the students and members of the faculty who supported the movement. Plans for the organization were developed in February 1938, almost a full year later, and Dr. Hampton was named Honorary President and faculty advisor, a position he held nearly seven years.
The Constitutional Convention of the G.O. was held March 10th and the first elections the same month. The first officers elected were Joseph Tortora, President; Robert Corson, Vice President; Marion Amon, Secretary; and Miss Frances G. Colon, Treasurer. An Athletic Council was organized and a point system adopted for honor awards. The Legislative Assembly included the classroom officers of the school.
The membership of the G.O. in the spring of 1938 was 1500, and it reached 2,000 in the September term.
An indication of the size of the school at this time is seen in an Advance headline which read: “McKee High Filled to Capacity. With 2064 Enrolled, School Has Waiting List.” This was the school’s highest enrollment to date.
In December 1938, Anthony Karboski, member of the School Band, a trumpeter of skill and promise, was awarded a scholarship to study with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
A field day held by McKee occurred on May 11, 1938 at Curtis field. The entire school adjourned to the field where races and other athletic events were held.
The first yearbook combined with the Dynamo was published in June 1938, dedicated to Mr. Harrigan. A special edition of the McKee News had previously been the graduation class “Yearbook.”
The bowling team on October 1, 1938, beat Curtis High School, at Spinella’s Boulevard Academy, Tompkinsville.
Technical and Trade Training
Technical courses were started at McKee in the spring of 1939. Messrs. Widman, Olsen, Biberstein and Stock did the groundwork in planning and setting up the technical courses.
This forward step prompted some in thinking that a more appropriate name for the school would be to designate it as a “Vocational and Technical High School.” Excellent work has been done in this department of the school in the time that it has operated. It has added an important branch of training, increasing the usefulness of McKee beyond the fields of trade training previously developed.
On May 17, 1939, the first successful Amateur Night was presented by McKee students before the largest audience ever to attend a function in the auditorium. Eight hundred people witnessed the performance, the auditorium, aisles, stage, wings, corridors and lobby being crowded with many not able to get into the building. It was in charge of Social Science Department and the G.O. Three silver cups were awarded to stars of the school, the winners being chosen by applause. Ruby Thomson and Dan McGrady won first prize for their duet, “Sweethearts;” Sabina Lupari, singing exquisitely “Begin the Beguine,” took second honors. She later became a professional singer on stage and night club programs in the Greater City and also sang over the radio.
In the same month of May, Anthony J. Fauci, a member of the Camera Club, won a $50 prize for a beautiful night photo of the Bayonne Bridge. This was in the Photographic Competition and Salon of the Pace Institute in Manhattan. Fauci was a member of the Camera Club of McKee, sponsored by Mr. Mathews.
An outstanding musical event was presented June 7, 1939, under the joint auspices of the G.O. and the Federal Music Group, a presentation of the complete Mendelssohn Oratorio “Elijah.” This presentation was given by the Combined Federal Chamber Orchestra of 58 pieces, and the Federal Opera Company of 65 voices. Edwin McArthur, famous conductor and accompanist for Kirsten Flagsted of the Metropolitan Opera Company was the guest conductor for the performance. Frederic Jencks, American baritone, with an international reputation as an oratorio and operatic singer, was guest soloist. Mrs. Ralph McKee headed the list of prominent hostesses for the event.
The first Alumni Society was organized by Mrs. Smith January 19, 1939, Mr. Harrigan speaking to the organizing group. Miss Seested late became advisor for the Alumni Society. The first officers elected were Joseph Tortora, “39, President; John Lensa, ’37, Vice President; Marion Amon, ’38, Secretary; Alfred O’Reilly, ’37, Treasurer.
Remedial Reading Course Adopted
Under the direction of Mrs. Smith, English Chairman, the first mechanical remedial reading courses were introduced at McKee in the fall term, 1939. This was affected by the use of the opthalmograph and the metronscope, the former diagnosing eye movements and detecting causes of retardation in reading, and the latter aiding in building up right habits of reading process. The class instruction was given by Miss Malley in three classes and by Mrs. Smith in one class of seniors. Mr. Miller subsequently undertook the instruction of this course.
The Public Speaking Club held its first competitive assembly in 1939, and Carmen Micita won first prize, a $10 gold piece donated by the faculty advisor of the club. Second honors went to Arne Elvejord. The committee of judges of the public speaking contest included Judge John C. Boylan, Chairman and Mrs. Herbert McCrum, of the local school board.
In 1940, the Mothers Advisory Board was formed with Miss Whalen, Administrative Assistant, as the hostess at a luncheon preceding the organization meeting. Mrs. Fred Jahns was elected President; Mrs. Henry Meyer, Vice President; Mrs. Joseph D. Carstang, Secretary; Mrs. Harry Christie, Corresponding Secretary. The chairman of the organization meeting was Mrs. Arthur Foley.
McKee Student Wins Oratory Contest
McKee had taken part in several American Legion Oratorical Contests conducted annually on the subject of the American Constitution. The first McKee student to win honors in the oratorical event was John Sullivan, G.O. past President, who was accorded third prize in the Constitution Contest of 1940.
This school was honored also by the election in 1940 of John Sullivan as President of the Borough Federation of General Organizations, the Honorary President becoming Borough Advisor. Dr. Hampton was later chosen a member of the Executive Board of the citywide G.O. Council.
In the “Who’s Who” conducted by the 1940 graduating class at McKee, Rose Soltys was elected “Miss 1940” and Charles Pietro, “Mr. 1940,” by the senior class or January. The use of year designations as titles for the most popular students won approval.
Twelve hundred housewives attending the Advance Cooking School held in the Liberty Theatre, Stapleton, on February 28, 1940, watched proceedings with fascination, marveling at the proficiency with which two McKee girls took over one of the outstanding demonstrations. The students performed with poise and skill before the vast audience. The girls were Miss Doris Driscoll and Miss Muriel Meyers, students of cookery under Mrs. Gertrude Doellner of the McKee Home Economics Department.
Among clubs noted as being in operation in 1940 were the Radio Club, Mr. Widman, Advisor; President, William Brassok, Vice President, Wesley Blanchard, Thomas McEnerney, Secretary. Novelty Club, Miss Muntz, Advisor; President, Susan Merola, Vice President, Amy Mark, Secretary, Joan Mark, Treasurer, Lucy Conardo. Aviation Club, Mr. Stevens, Advisor; President, Frank Hughes, Vice President, Stephen Curtis, Secretary, George Meyer, Treasurer, Edward Pessolano. Dramatics Club, Mr. Hoffman, Advisor; President, Anne Trycz, Vice President, Dolores Owens, Secretary, Ruth Russell. The History Club was under Mr. Freeman in 1940, and others included the Slide Rule Club, Hairdressers guild, Camera Club and the Philatic Society, organized by Mr. Wood on May 16, 1940. He is an enthusiastic stamp collector and other who joined him on the faculty were Miss Reba J. Miller, Miss Colon, and Mr. Philip Becker. Twenty-seven students were active in the Society. Exhibits of many valuable and curious stamps and covers were shown in the cabinets in the library and in the corridor.
In sports, Coach Eiss was fostering the Golf Team, Mr. Stock still directed the Tennis; Mr. John Pollock coached the Track team. The Bowling team captured the beautiful League Trophy known as the Spinella Cup. Basketball and Baseball continued to be the major sports. There was a continuous and growing demand for football. At a Sports Awards Assembly, Woody got off one of his dramatic speeches, throwing all caution to the winds, Frank Cassidy of New Dorp recited “Casey at the Bat,” to the extreme and uproarious delight of everyone, and “Doc” Hampton created the pun about our being ready for any emergency by having Eiss, Cole and Wood on the same faculty.
At a term end faculty party at the Meurot, Mr. Pergola brought the house down with on e of his dramatic imitations of Mussolini speaking from the balcony of the Palazzo. Pergi’s success was complete when Mr. Miller joined the act as the “populace” breaking in on Il Duce’s speech with repeated Vives. “Mussolini’s” chest and jaw almost joined in the Pergolanian dramatization.
Subsequent parties featured Mr. Frank Roantree’s poetry and dramatics, particularly his dialect presentations; and the famed faculty “Quartet,” which might number anywhere from five to seven, never four. This group won the Borough Barber Shop finals in 1944 and competed with the best city teams before the Mayor and other celebrities at Central Park Hall.
Singers in the “Quartet” have been Mr. William Olsen, Mr. Harry Fleisher, Mr. Frank Roantree, Mr. Walter Heap, and Mr. Raymond Stock.
McKee High School had been a contributing member to the Junior Red Cross since 1936. Elizabeth Bench, the school’s representative for Junior Red Cross in 1940, was selected to represent Richmond Borough at the National Junior Red Cross Convention in Washington, DC that year. Miss Edna M. Jackson was the faculty advisor of the McKee Junior Red Cross organization. In 1941, the Junior Red Cross “Club” was organized and has been helpful in making many articles during the course of the war.
David Hunter, and Eagle Scout, was presented with the Citizenship Medal by Mayor LaGuardia, at the great Scout-O-Rama, classic Scouting spectacle at Madison Square Garden, May 17, 1940. He was one of five in the City to receive this Award, and represented the Borough of Richmond. Dave was a member of Troop 35, Dongan Hills.
McKee made its first debut at Madison Square Garden, December 14, 1940 in the Basketball classic. Before a crowd of 7,000, this school trimmed Brooklyn Automotive in a thrilling clash, winning by a score of 27-23.
Death of Dr. William E. Grady
On November 10, 1940, Associate Superintendent Dr. William E. Grady died. He had been a firm friend of McKee. Mr. George F. Pigott, Principal of Brooklyn Automotive High School, was elected Associate Superintendent to succeed Dr. Grady. Subsequently also, Mr. Morris E. Siegel’s long service to vocational education was honored by his election by the Board of Education as an Assistant Superintendent.
The year 1941 found the National Defense Program in full swing at McKee. It was directed by Mr. Wood as Teacher in charge of this important phase of the Ear effort at McKee. Many shops were open and thousands of men and women received training here
Football is Organized
Football at last! The January 1941 issue of the McKee News carried the stimulating story of the forthcoming debut of Football at McKee for the following fall season. Candidates were called at this time, and organization and practice begun. Jack Begelman, well-known coach, had been engaged to coach the McKee gridders. He was a graduate of NYU and had played fullback for the Violet aggregation. Sal Somma was among others who helped coach the successive teams.
January also saw the Bowling Trophy come to McKee for the third and final time. The trophy came to stay, having been clinched in the December matches.
Two of the finest members of the McKee faculty died during the year. Mr. Fred Stevens passed away on April 5, and Mr. Harry L. Olmstead died October 19, 1941. Both were popular teachers who were devoted to their work and the shock of their passing was felt by both faculty and students. Mr. Frank Miccio, who had been an instructor at the Annex since 1936, succeeded Mr. Stevens in the Machine Shop. Mr. Hubert Wethey and Mr. Wood continued in woodworking.
More McKee Honor Students
Ruth McCarthy, honor students, represented McKee in a broadcast over station WNYC, May 10, 1941. During the broadcast she was interviewed by Judge Stephen S. Jackson, of Manhattan, noted for his citywide campaign for preservation of school property. His influence had been felt in every school in the five boroughs.
Another honor that came to McKee was when William Salveson, seventh term student, won a silver medal in Loew’s “Land of Liberty” Essay Contest, for the best essay on “What Democracy Means to Me.”
On May 22, 1941, four hundred students of the Civics classes toured New York Harbor in a “Civics Afloat” ferryboat trip. These unique tours had been inaugurated by Commissioner Ellsworth Buck, of Staten Island, who had succeeded the late Ralph R. McKee as Richmond’s member on the Board of Education. Dr. Buck became President of the Board of Education, a position that had been filled by two other Staten Islanders previously, Honorable Anning S. Prall, and Honorable William G. Willcox.
A Technical Society was organized in May under the direction of Messrs. Olsen and Rosenberg. Officers of the club were James Fritze, President; Thomas McEnerney, Vice President; Ray Dahlstrom, Secretary.
“Beat Curtis,” was the slogan during the 1941 and 1942 football season. The team delivered by defeating the rival St. George School the second season, by a score of 7-6, a triumph which caused great jubilation. The McKee team met its great rival with an unbeaten record, and maintained its victorious achievements. It was subsequently defeated, however, by the powerful Washington and Lee team which invaded the North, coming from far away Virginia. Perhaps we thought the long trip merited some consolation. Hence, the gift of victory for the visitors.
Outstanding student athletes may be here noted.
Billy Bange starred in the 1941 season, and was chosen on the New York Journal American Second Team. In the 1942 season, McKee scored against Curtis in the last 30 seconds of play on a pass from Johnny Ryan to Joe (Carrots) Caravaglio. Les Hammond kicked the extra point that won the game.
George Anderson made the New York Journal American First All-City Team.
Mr. Frank Zozzora, outstanding teacher of art, left McKee at the opening of the fall 1941 term to take a position at Lafayette College. He left many friends in this school.
According to the McKee News, among the teachers who now appeared in McKee for the first time, were Mr. Martha Taylor from the McKee Annex; Mr. Morris Charney from Port Richmond High School; Mr. Irving M. Hyman from New Dorp High School, a civic and religious leader of Staten Island; Miss Virginia O’Connor and Mr. Thomas J. Marshall both from New Dorp High School; Mrs. Frances B. Sonz from Curtis High School; and Mr. John J. Carroll from Tottenville High School.
Under G.O. auspices, the famous naturalist, Earnest Thompson Seton, appeared at the Assembly on February 16, 1942. He was accompanied by Mrs. Seton, also an author of note. Mr. Seton visited the school library and autographed several of his books during an interview with members of the faculty and students.
One Hundredth Anniversary of the Board of Education
The One Hundredth Anniversary of the New York Board of Education was observed at McKee with a special exhibit held in the library. The exhibit included many relics of colonial and early days of the Republic, early tools and trade equipment, and indenture certificates for apprentices on hundred years ago. Many items were loaned by the Staten Island Historical Society and by individuals. Among those who helped organize this exhibit were Miss Hankinson, Mrs. Sonz, Mr. Wood, Mr. Hoffman, who wrote the Centennial Play given by students in the auditorium; Mr. Coleman, Miss Whalen, Administrative Assistant, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Heap, Miss Clapper, Mr. Maxwell Matthews, and Dr. Hampton, Chairman of the Anniversary Committee.
The entire New York School System suffered a severe loss in the death on June 17, 1942, of Dr. Harold G. Campbell Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Campbell was succeeded in the office of Superintendent of Schools by Dr. John E. Wade, Associate and Deputy Superintendent.
Active aide in the prosecution was evident during the spring term, 1942. The G.O. took the leadership under the direction of Gary Voorhees, G.O. President. Student drives got under way and the response was immediate and effective.
Subsequently, the nationwide organization of the Victory Corps in the high schools was adopted also by New York City and the plans were inaugurated at McKee in December 1942, Miss Whalen naming Dr. Hampton the Director of the V.C. The organization was formally launched at an assembly on January 11, 1943. Credit for the inauguration of the Victory Corps goes to James Fritze, President of the G.O. for the fall term, 1942-43, who became the president of the Victory Corps Jack Morgan was Vice President and Kathryn Miller, Secretary. The Honorary President of the G.O. was also the Director of the Victory Corps.
Mr. Harrigan Retires
Prior to the above event, however, McKee had lost its first Principal, Mr. Harrigan, through retirement. He retired from the New York educational system after a long period of service in the schools of New York City and State. Mr. Harrigan took leave of McKee at the end of June 1942. In a parting gift, the General Organization presented him with a bound volume of greetings from all the G.O. officers since the founding of the organization. Included were pictures of the G.O. officers.
The faculty feted Mr. Harrigan on his retirement at a luncheon at the Hotel Pennsylvania, Manhattan, June 13, 1942. An affectionate editorial appeared in the Advance, captioned “Daddy of McKee High.”
Mrs. Mary Whalen Fogarty, Administrative Assistant, became acting principal of the school for the fall term following Mr. Harrigan’s retirement. As pointed out, the organized war effort of the school, the Victory Corps, was inaugurated during her incumbency as acting principal on January 11, 1943.
Mr. Tagle Takes the Helm
On February 23, 1943, Mr. Ferdy J. Tagle, First Assistant at the New York School of Printing, began his duties as Acting Principal of Ralph R. McKee Vocational High School. He was introduced to the school at the first Victory Corps Assembly of the new term.
As a war-time administrator, Mr. Tagle found many problems of the school associated with the war effort. Pupils put over the third and fourth war loan drives in the school under his direction. They presented a Jeep to the Army, which was received for the latter by Lt. M.J. Wardell. Participating in the presentation ceremonies were Mr. Tagle, Hon. Conrnelius A. Hall, Borough Public Works Commissioner, and Miss Jackson, in charge of the McKee Junior Red Cross.
A dramatic assembly program was presented March 10, 1943, “The Vital Role Electricity Plays in Modern Warfare.” The program was given by classes taught by Mr. Olsen, Mr. D’Alessandre, and Mr. Alex Rosenberg. Victory Gardening was directed during 1943 and 1944 by Mr. Heap. More than four hundred students conducted Victory Gardens during the summer seasons both years.
The War Industries Training Program continued under the capable direction of Mr. Wood.
Allan Hooker, Vice President of the McKee G.O., was elected President of the City Federation of General Organizations in the year 1943-44 at a meeting of representatives from all the high schools of the city, which was held at 110 Livingston Street, Brooklyn.
Leo Wojciechowski, a McKee student, was honored in 1943 and again in 1944, by selection, to represent Richmond Borough as its Typical War Service Scout, chosen for his leadership in Boy Scout war service activities.
The 3rd, 4th, and 5th War Loan drives went over the top. McKee’s Service Flag contained 975 stars, twelve of which were gold representing boys who had given their lives in the service of their country.
Mr. Tagle reorganized the Departments in the fall of 1943. Mr. Biberstein was named Chairman of the Related Technical Department; Mr. Tolfsen, Boys Shop Chairman; Mr. Talish, Girls Shop Chairman; and, as Dr. Hampton declined appointment, Mrs. Smith was made Academic Chairman, the former continuing as head of the Social Science Department; Mr. Coleman became Dean of Boys; Miss Seested, Guidance and Placement Administration. In the office, Miss Reba Miller’s long and faithful service was, and continues to be, deeply appreciated.
Mr. Tagle returned to his assignment as First Assistant at the New York Printing Trades High School on March 1, 1944. Before leaving McKee the retiring acting principal was given a farewell party at the Meurot Club, St. George. He left a favorable impression on the school during his year of service.
Mr. Sorola Appointed Principal
Mr. Moses Sorola was appointed Principal of McKee Vocational High School and began his duties March 1, 1944. He came to this school from the Central Needle Trades High School, Manhattan, where he had been a First Assistant. Mr. Sorola was the first permanent Principal of McKee since Mr. Harrigan’s retirement in June 1942.
The new Principal entered the New York School system in 1931, and his rise to a Principalship through successive positions was rapid. He is a graduate of the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University and has a Master of Arts Degree from New York University.
McKee students continued to win honors in outside competitions. Raymond Dahlstrom won second place in the American Legion Oratorical Contest on the Constitution in 1943 and Jack Jones won first place in 1944.
In September 1944, Dr. Hampton again assumed the Academic Chairmanship and Miss Mary M. Malley became English Chairman, Mrs. Smith taking a sabbatical leave of absence. In reassuming the Academic Departmental position, Dr. Hampton asked to be relieved of his other two special assignments, and Mr. Louis Friedman was named Honorary President of the G.O., organizing the student activities with foresight and ability. In this he was ably assisted by Herbert Short, past G.O. President, and the incumbent officers, James Baron, President; Howard Hett, Vice President; and Concetta Mastroiani, Secretary.
Mr. George F. Orthy was made Director of the Victory Corps and brought the school through victoriously in the 6th and 7th War Loan campaigns. On V-E Day, May 8, 1945, an impressive program was presented to the school under Mr. Orthy’s direction.
Some additional highlights of the past year include a special Brotherhood Assembly, arranged by Mr. Olsen, Mr. Hyman, and Mrs. Cockerill, on February 20, 1945. Speakers of prominence representing three faiths were present and gave inspiring addresses including Mr. Elias Berstein, well-known attorney and a good friend of McKee High School; Rev. J. Murdock Palmer, Pastor of the Mariners Harbor Baptist Church, and Hon. Cornelius A. Hall, Borough Commissioner of Public Works. The Assembly was an outstanding contribution to better human relations.
Dedication of Permanent Honor Roll
The dedication of the Permanent Honor Roll of the School also took place during the spring term 1945. Participating in this ceremony were representatives of the Parent Teachers Association headed by Mrs. George Fatton. Mrs. Herbert Short headed the committee who labors resulted in this honor record.
The Memorial Assembly on April 13, 1945, paying tribute to the life and work of Franklin D. Roosevelt, was another occasion that will long be remembered by students now attending the school
And on April 19, the faculty of McKee participated in the reception tendered by the Staten Island Teachers Association to Mr. Andrew G. Clouson form new Richmond member of the Board of Education succeeding Hon. Ellsworth B. Buck.
As the Ralph R. McKee Vocational High School looks into the future, we should all appraise anew the results of our efforts and the goals we hope to attain. A thought which Principal Sorola voiced before the Rotary Club of Staten Island last summer and which the Advance commented upon editorially should be a challenge: “America has become great because its people are creative.” Said the editorial concerning it:
“Interesting, particularly because we have more often been told of the other reasons we have become great – our vast natural resources; the fierce independence of our people, stemming from those pioneers who left comfort for freedom; our youthful recklessness amounting almost to a gambling spirit; our temperate climate.
“But the addition of the creative spirit of the people to this list is of vast significance. Unless men want to use the resources of a nation – both human and natural and economic – to build something more useful or more beautiful, those resources can be a hindrance. Using hands and minds to fashion a better something is always thrilling and Mr. Sorola is right when he insists that we have had free opportunity to do that here than in most nations of the world.
“The school that senses that and builds its offerings around such an idea is sure to do an extra good job for its students. It will be interesting to watch McKee, its work and its products.”
Let us help Principal Sorola guide our students in becoming creative people in the better world ahead.
Carl Barnes Jack McDowall
Carl King Anthony LaMorte
Carlton Barnes Herman Suska
Me James Harrington
Carl King Barnes Roy R. Kelley
Arthur Garnice Edward Kackle
Arthur M. Conarelli Donald Wilson
George J. Lynk Main Jeong
James Baron Anthony Gaeta
Paul M. Lucchese Arthur F. Turkus
Clyde S. Babbitt Jr. Joseph Cole
Edwin A. Barn Herbert Kronish
Neil Callahan Jack De Francisco
Martin Murphy Donald Juliano
John Ocha Ira Kronish
John Desmond William McNee
George Ingebrigtsen Ivan Brennalt
Katherine Denino Roy Naevestad
Josephine Savastano Donald Rose
Amelia Gisonda Robert W. Madison
Henry Pfuhler Jr. Mrs. L. Faber
Frank J. Gresico Frank Marshall
George L. Gardella Jr. Dom Gaeta
Arthur Mariani Frank Mercurio
Rose Marie Unrein Mildred Lind
Gerald Griddin William Boland
William Pobbl Mikey Terrell
Fred Prior Robert Brooks
Joseph Terry Donald Post
Kenneth Bartsch Joseph Pietromoraco
Walter Adamson John McNiece
John Schneider Salvatore Cardillo
Walter Austin Alfred Farkas
Perter Ancest Gasper Domante
Marge Forte Edward A. Brennan
Frank Vaccaruzzo Melvin Akerley
Walter Herbert Andy Brennan
Walter R. Badalich Albert Balossi
Anthony Putromonico Gunther Schneider
Jers Fery Edwin Bertamini
Joseph Carannante Daniel Dellaventuro
Russell E. Tyhan Aniello J. D’Orio
Frank Wimzie Gennaro Bove
Ronald Danforth Benny Di Giovanni
John Lee Jennings Muriel John
John Scully Charlotte Levine
Edwin Jepsen Shirley McKay
Carlo Falzoni Esther Caffese
Harold Donald Margaret Whitehead
George Ingebrigtsen Pauline Biskoroway
Philip Eagle Rosalie Fontana
Bob Kennedy Anna Lamattina
Anthony Tranchina Betty Penney
Anthony Orlando Elizabeth Terranova
Charles A. Auchter Gloria Fertitta
Kenneth Dahlando Ann Cantale
Charles A. Auchter Josephine S. Guerra
Kenneth Dahlstrom Eddie Agro
Salvatore Orlando Willie Leib
Thomas S. Sodo Eleanor Schuttinger
Herbert Smith Jr. Joy Smith
June Baumann Bertha A. Schweizer
Marie La Mazza Carmela Pietromonico
Marie De Santis Phyllis McTAdden
George Domina Marie Stryker
Anne Smith May Licata
Jane D. Zimmermann Rita Martinetti
Angelina Benevento Ann Di Mauro
Angelina Tummarello Catherine Milza
Gilda Tapichino Betty Hawksford
Mary La Falce Victoria Buczyski
Thaddeus Jasinski Lucille De Martinis
Lucy Di Giovanello Evelyn Johnsen
Florence Terranova Georgiana Cronin
Tess Cafaro Katherine De Cicco
Marie Sammartino Theresa Panetta
Jacqueline de Berendey Phyllis Timpone
Dorothy McGuirk Edna Pfuger
Edith Brosco Pearl Bianda
Charles Bauman Mildred Mazzone
Gladys Colandra Kathleen Puscell
Terry Rasmussen Josephine Zielinski
Helen Costantino Adeline Wilkening
Henrietta Vazzana Ablina Garofalo
Jean Courtney Velia Giardiello
Theresa Tammone Julia Guarino
Beverly Goldstein Martha Brock
RoseMary Androsky Betty Kirschhock
Vincent Di Marco Lucy Cardiwali
Betty Warshaw Walter Herbert
Lucy Wratschko Laura Bolemback
Catherine Trycz Ida Koster
Rose Marie Unrein Martha Koster
Lena Prignoli Barbara Rubelli
Donald Baydal Jeanne Ferry
Marie Alves Amanda Koster
Priscilla Smolewski Marie L. Hinson
Lillian Luciano Dolores Smolka
Costantino Frances Rosalie Marrone
Angelina Bistrovic Raymond Piccolini
Lorraine Harriet Collins Mary Lou Brown
Rose Paradise Richard Wagner
Rose Canepa Filomena Lombardi
Jeannette Boffa Gloria Burmeister
Frances Pellicano Anna Ashmore
Josephine Dianto Josephine Carbone
Mary Taverna Anna Brocato
Madeline Ronga Gloria Di Devincenzi
Jay Cantale Delia Duncan
Dora Dimaggio Marie Cassata
Angelina Martori Jeanne de Berendey
Susann Porter Elise Lederman
Carole Williams Jean Johnson
Rose Borgia Hilda Koehler
May Cincinelli Helen Kiernan
Veronica Kicos Dorothy Jankowski
Grace Rhein Virginia Battista
Sandra Taverna Evelyn Sundin
Clara Materfis Frank McDonough
Gloria Crane Lucille Moracke
Teresa Pucciarelli Mary Paparella
Anne Valenti Sophie Galasso
Lorranie Yorke Caroline Pacilio
John Mondelli Irene Kicos
Bernard Iammatteo Florence Sokol
Norman Andresen Josephine Mastroianni
Italo Soldiviero Rocco Fusco
Joseph Gildersleeve Harry Bombardi
Alex Peirano Fred Serio
John G. Latanzio Eddie Reilly
Allan Campbell Conrad E. Blazewicz
Bertha Halliday Vincent Formica
Raymond McDowell Paul Gasper Bonventre
Mrs. Herbert C. S., PTA Raymond Van Pelt
Mrs. Otto Schotter, PTA Louis Anthony Goanisi
Mrs. Catherine S. Jones, PTA Fergus A. Biberstein
Mrs. Henry J. Pfuhler, PTA Mr. and Mrs. G. Fatton, PTA
Mrs. William Schoen, PTA Anna LaMorte
Mrs. George Stork, PTA Mr. and Mrs. H. Suska
Mrs. Violet Gostantino, PTA Mary Harrington
Mrs. Walter Kosch, PTA Mr. and Mrs. F. Winzig
Mrs. Mae de Berendey, PTA Mr. Herbert Smith
Mrs. George Fillbrunn, PTA James Donald
Mr. Paul Latanzio Mrs. P. Falzoni
Miss Catherine Latanzio Mrs. A. Scully
Mr. and Mrs.N. Latanzio Ellen Jepsen
Mrs. A. Paradise Mrs. Edna Balcombe
Mrs. Louise De Luca Mrs. Dana M. Danforth
Mrs. Edward Thommen Mrs. E. Tynan
Mrs. De Cicco Mr. and Mrs. S. Turkus
Mr. and Mrs. R.H. Schweizer Mrs. Marie D. Cole
Ugo Mariani Dr. Vernon Hampton
Laura F. Kasparell Mr. and Mrs. Edward H. Ranftle
Zoe Mariani Roland Defrancisco
Mrs. Ben Heineman Mr. A. Juliano
Mr. Ben Heineman Mr. Arnold Kronish
Mr. Sam Samuels Mrs. Arnold Kronish
Mr. and Mrs. Edward V. Baron Mrs. Ruth Brennalt
Mr. and Mrs. James S. Baron Frank Marschall
Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Baron Mr. and Mrs. C.L. Madison
John Pollock Mrs. L. Feber
Mrs. Beatrice H. Babbitt Miss Lois Garner
John J. D’Alesandre Mr. Melvin Akerley Sr.
Harry G. Feman Mrs. Florence Akerley
Nicholas Baratta, USN Bessie B. Brooks
Lucille Holler Mrs. Christhild Solvesen
Kaltenmeer Mrs. W.I. John
Ann Yorkston John Biskoroway
Mrs. L. Dorian Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Whitehead
Esther S. Gaulke Francelian Alves
Mr. A. Alves Mrs. A. Alves
Vincent Versella Anthony Calandrino
Brady Morris H. Talish
Mr. and Mrs. I Prignoli Mrs. Frank L. Richardson
Frances Hankinson Mary M. Seested
Denise’s Beauty Shop Mrs. Dorothy M. Cockerill
Mrs. J. Forlenza Mrs. Catherine Timpone
Charles Lambitz Mr. and Mrs. R. Lambert
Mrs. F. DiGiovaniello Mrs. Anna Laurent
Edna A. Van Duzer Hazel Liotaro
P.F.C. Aldo Costantino Mrs. Purcell
Mr. S. Vento Mr. William Wilkening
Miss Eileen Courtney Lucian Garofalo
Mr. and Mrs. E. Costantino Andrea Ciardiello
Helen Costantino Sr. Mrs. George Scott
Denise Costantino Mrs. Sanah Brock
Rita Colandra Mr. and Mrs. L. Bolembach
John H. Boedecker, E.M.2/c Mrs. Angelo Ghignone
Mrs. John Vierno Pat. J. Forte
Ann Cafaro Mrs. Louis Fiore
Mr. and Mrs. Paul Gurrieri Mary C. Regan
Peter de Berendey Michael Zauaglia
Berardino De Santis Harry Hacker
Anne Harding Mrs. Mary Spadaro
William Schuttinger Mrs. A. Koster
Miss Dorothy M. Zimmermann Miss Meyorwitz
Emily Zimmerman William A. Rubelli
Josephine Locombo Pvt. George Brower
John O. Colgan Jr. Eugene Gretella
Joey Trimarche Angelino Giordano
Mrs. C. Tummarello Mary Gambardella
Edith Marra Anthony W. Azzara
Philip D’Angelo Mrs. Felix La Marca
Mr. Carmen D’Angelo Joseph Holt
Mrs. J. Vento Mr. and Mrs. W. Sherwood
Walter D. Wood Frances G. Coulon
Edna M. Jackson Mrs. A. Moracke
Mrs. Anna Kicos Mrs. Sadie Santangelo
Mr. and Mrs. J. Vargo Mrs. Frances Marrone
Mrs. M. Canepa Marie Puca
Miss Sandra Miuccio Mrs. Lombardi
Lena Montana Carmelo Brocato
Mr. and Mrs. M. Ronga Adelaide Duncan
Elizabeth Fabiani Mr. Peter de Berendey
Margaret Bianco Anna Koehler
Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Valenti Mildred Kiernan
Mrs. Ricciarelli Catherine M. Bannon
Mr. and Mr. LiBero Peitromonico Charlie Chong
Mrs. Emily Luata Mrs. A. Ferris
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Martinetti Mrs. Anna Burmeister
Mrs. Dreisser Mrs. Majman
Mrs. P. Milza Anthony Barletto
Fhilomena Bucsynski Mrs. Emma Vallebuona
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Martinis Ludwig Schwartz
Sten Johnson Ernest E. Langlois
P.F.C. Thomas Diggons Mr. and Mrs. F. X. Masterson
James W. Corey, S2/c Mrs. Robert F. Smiles
Mr. and Mrs. P. Panetta Mrs. B. Hamilton
Miss F. Dimfl Mr. Ernest Vallebuona
Mr. H. Wagner Mrs. R. Turnese
Dominic Calandra Joseph Venosa
Calandra’s Service Station Josephine Calandra
Charles Testa Catherine M. Jones
Emil Xiques Moses Sorola