There has never been a question in anyone’s mind that Edward R. Murrow High School — a consistently high-achieving academic institution and producer of notable alumni such as director Darren Aronofsky, actress Marisa Tomei, Beastie Boys rapper Adam Yauch, and Councilwoman Yvette Clarke — is one of the finest public schools in the country.
However, even as the designated School of Excellence “received a grade of ‘A’ on the 2009-10 Progress Report, and a rating of ‘Well Developed’ on the Quality Review for the same period,” if you were not a student at Edward R. Murrow High School during its 30-year heyday, in which founding principal, Saul Bruckner, held the reins, you simply cannot comprehend the understated greatness of this truly awesome educational pioneer. His standing room only funeral, a little over a year ago, brought out hundreds of teary-eyed teachers, staff and students weeping openly over the man whom thousands of graduated teenagers over the course of three decades recalled as always knowing their name.
This coming May 26, the East 17th
Street entrance of the school, 1600 Avenue L — where Murrow alumni recall the legend that was Mr. Bruckner standing at the school’s entrance every morning, oftentimes in a rather comical plaid blazer, long arms iconically crossed over his mid-torso, greeting students individually by name, and a name tag reading “S. Bruckner, Principal” forever adorning his checkered lapel — will be named in his honor.
According to the Murrow Network, the school’s online newspaper, two new street signs reading “Saul Bruckner Way” will be placed beneath the existing East 17th
Street sign. For those of us who personally recall Mr. Bruckner — he was principal during my time at the school, from 1989 to 1992 — it is the most fitting tribute to the man we all lovingly nicknamed “Kermit,” but there is a part of me which cannot help but speculate that Mr. Bruckner, in heaven, might be blushing from all this lavish attention.
In my capacity as a then-photographer for a local newspaper, I had the privilege of seeing Mr. Bruckner in 2004, the year of his retirement and 30th
anniversary of the school. Recognizing his incalculable contributions to Murrow over the 30 years that he ran it, the faculty renamed the area outside his former office the “Saul Bruckner Suite” while I and a reporter — fellow Murrow alumnus and Sheepshead Bites contributor Michèle De Meglio — covered the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
As I recall, Mr. Bruckner was naturally quite gracious to be honored in this way, a clear testament to the profound love students and staff alike felt for him, but it was written all over the face of this reserved and gentle man, who never sought recognition for himself, that he felt a little uncomfortable with being thrust in the spotlight.
Alas, a street being named after our beloved principal is something we all absolutely had to see come to fruition. There is no single place any of us can begin in attempting to convey our feelings for this person who never stopped believing in any of us, from the brilliant minds in his AP History classes, to the class-cutting underachievers like myself. This is our way of expressing immeasurable gratitude to this very special man, by always remembering him, and by showing current and future students of the school of his unique vision the “Saul Bruckner Way.”
The one-hour ceremony renaming East 17th
Street to “Saul Bruckner Way” will be held May 26, 10:30 a.m. at the school, in which current Murrow staff, students and teachers will be in attendance. Former staff members and alumni are invited to attend. For more, call the school at (718) 258-9283.