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.  I wanted to go to Brooklyn Technical but they were too far away and filled up. I was stuck.

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.  

Obviously from their titles one understands the dividing saved the school by working with people that want to get ahead.  I wish them well.  Also the recreation and rebuilding of the neighborhood.  


✳️ Roger Brown, ABA and NBA basketball player for the Indiana Pacers. Elected to Indianapolis City Council.
✳️ Frank Tepedino, Major League Baseball player      
✳️ Barbara Boxer, United States Senator (D–CA)
✳️ Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President, 2001-2013   ✳️ Steve Rubell, co-owner Studio 54, NYC
✳️ MC Lyte, hip-hop music rapper, TV and film actress, radio show host.
✳️ Rodney Batiste, US Karate Middleweight champion, World Karate Champion
✳️  Al Jacobson - NYC Champion Class Cutter, Writer, and Researcher

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.

Today the neighborhood North is mostly torn down and made into a SOHO neighborhood upgrade project just like Williamsburg, Brooklyn near the Bridge.  Good move for many as housing is tough and owning a car in Manhattan is not a good idea, from Williamsburg you can if you wish, walk or bike to lower Manhattan.  Took a deteriorating neighborhood and improved the whole lot.

It is a process of renovating deteriorated urban neighborhoods by means of the influx of more affluent residents. This is a common and controversial topic in politics and in urban planning. It is called Gentrification and can improve the material quality of a neighborhood, while also potentially forcing relocation of current, established residents and businesses, causing them to move from a gentrified area, seeking lower cost housing and stores.  

A new word “ Benefication”  meaning the building and property owners get rid of a slum and rebuild expensive rental properties from the rebuilt properties.  The owner is the “ benefitter”.

Gentrification often shifts a neighborhood’s racial/ethnic composition and average household income by developing new, more expensive housing, businesses and improved resources.  But it broke up much of the declining conditions.

It is hot sales turf due to a rampant shortage of apartments in NYC.  A studio with no bathtub nor oven is 1200.00 a month.  In my days it was no mans land and the joke was “ A murder a day was the Bedford-Sty way”. 

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.   

In some cases by 3: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.

It wasn’t working, and a bad mix of teachers didn’t help, read on.  Including the principal Woolf Colvin who would not permit a football team because of a personal loss in his family during a football game.  Teams sometimes are the only cement as those who cherish sports can get together on.   

With the exception of soccer teams worldwide who take delight in crashing stadiums and literal sport wars during a game the three most attractive forms of building collusions and bringing those together are Food - Music - and Sports.  

I worked with the basketball team, and two student 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.

In one highlight alone, 1993 a 17-year-old student was stabbed in the chest in a dispute with another youth at G.W. Wingate HS, one of New York City's most troubled and violent schools, the police reported. The assailant, also a student at Wingate, fled on foot.  He was caught.  Thats only one of many instances, history not worth repeating.

One official familiar with the investigation said that school security officers had recognized the assailant, as a Wingate student from file photographs of the school's 2,600 students.

A school spokesman, said no figures on crimes and violence at individual high schools were available. ( SURE) But he said Wingate, as one of the city’s most troubled schools, had had metal detectors for four years, and had other special security measures, including extra patrols by guards and police officers and, since last fall, X-ray machines for the inspection of book bags.

Wingate’s additional security also includes magnetic identity cards to restrict entry to students, staff members and other authorized persons, and it has magnetic locks on its doors to free school guards for hallway patrol and other duties.   Wingate, is difficult to patrol, security officials say. Known as "the banjo," it features a large circular central building with curved hallways that make surveillance difficult.

"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.