View Full Version : All NYC Collegiate Planning a Move to Riverside South, First Since 1892

02-07-2013, 10:58 AM
From N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/nyregion/collegiate-school-new-yorks-oldest-private-school-plans-17th-move.html) by Jenny Anderson:

After debating nearly seven years about where to move, the board of the Collegiate School, New York City’s oldest and one of its most prestigious private schools, announced Tuesday that it had purchased land for a new building between West 61st and 62nd Streets and between West End Avenue and Riverside Boulevard.

It will be the 17th move for the school since its founding in New Amsterdam in 1628, but the first since 1892, when the West End Collegiate Church and the Collegiate School moved to the Upper West Side. Collegiate, a small yet fiercely competitive all-boys school, is renowned in private school circles for its academic rigor — its college placement list is the envy of many — its students’ self-confidence and its inelegant facilities.

Shabby chic, minus the chic, permeates the school. “We like that they come to a place that’s a little bit worn, lived-in, tattered and they make do,” said the headmaster, Lee M. Levison.

Everyone in a sense must make do. The foreign language department’s 12 teachers are spread across four floors; the department head’s office is in a closet. The boys’ outdoor space consists of an alley between the church and school where a basketball court sits next to the windows of the old gym. “The windows break three times a year,” Mr. Levison said. And then there’s the student lounge — all 250 square feet of it — which has the charm of a freshman boy’s dorm room, with stark finishings and mismatched couches of questionable fabrics.

“It’s messy and dirty,” said Ben Miller, president of the student body, proudly. Would he prefer a bigger one? “No, it’s a good size for the student body.”

Many students at Collegiate, where annual tuition runs to nearly $40,000, hail from privilege. Caroline Kennedy sent her son there, and Robert E. Rubin, the former treasury secretary, sent two sons. In spite of its prestige, or perhaps because of it, displays of wealth are scant and boys wear cheap ties. Boys are expected to be respectful, but they are not expected to be still. The noise can be raucous and Mr. Levison has likened the changeover between classes to men moving around on a World War II submarine. Anna Quindlen, the essayist and former New York Times columnist, wrote about the school (which her sons attended), “It doesn’t pathologize boy behavior.”

In 2006, the West End Collegiate Church exercised its right to take back its space — which housed Collegiate’s upper school — giving the school until 2022 to vacate. In the meantime, the church has taken back some rooms, like the one that housed the college counseling office and computer labs last year.

The board sought to figure out how to expand the school without changing its culture, which many felt was reflected in its physical image. (Mr. Levison’s instructions to the architect Peter Gluck, whose son was in the class of 1987, was, “Make it nice, but not too nice.”)

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