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Eastern alum: true to their school

The Brooklyn Paper
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No matter where you end up, most people have fond memories of high school.

Alumni of Eastern District High School are no exception, even if the South Williamsburg school at 850 Graham Street has been closed for over 10 years.

All alumni of the shuttered school will be recalling their years there at Fleur de Lis Caterers, 870 Cypress Avenue in Ridgewood, on August 15 between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. Tickets to the fun-filled affair are $80.

First opened on Marcy Avenue in 1894, Eastern District High School had a fair share of ups and downs. As with many high schools in Brooklyn during the 1980s and early 1990s, the downs outweighed the ups.

Some remember Eastern District’s later years having a “Stand by Me” atmosphere without a bat-wielding principal to pull it back up by its bootstraps.

Others recall that violence was so prevalent that Eastern District was one of the first high schools in the city to get metal detectors.

But to the hundreds of wide-eyed teens who not only survived but thrived at Eastern, these problems were nothing but background noise.

For them, the memories that remain involve good friends, beloved teachers and administrators and a high school spirit that’s all Brooklyn,

“In spite of what happened there throughout the years, a lot of the students managed to empower themselves and grew up to be accomplished profession­als,” explained class of ‘93 alumnus Orlando Rivera, who is now a communications specialist for the Kings County District Attorney’s office. “We stood strong and didn’t let the negativity bring us down. We made education the key role in our lives, became productive and are now teachers, police officers, deans, DJs, even PR guys.”

Eastern District High School was shut down and converted into several smaller schools in 1996 -- two years after celebrating its centennial.

But while the school no longer exists, memories of walking the halls, class clowns and recess romances created a magnetic pull of sorts among many alumni.

Rivera said that several unofficial “mini reunions” have been held over the years. Saturday’s event is a culmination of an effort to keep these memories alive and share them with all of those who walked through Eastern’s front doors, Rivera said.

Throughout the night, special awards will be given out to “high school couple of the year” and alumni celebrating their birthdays in August. Organizers will also honor the class of 1989, who are celebrating their 20th anniversary, as well as give a brief history of the school.

Any alum wishing to purchase tickets and rekindle old memories at the reunion can contact either Rodney Guitonez at (917) 279-3844 or Maria Pagan at (347) 678-0259.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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