From Masten Park High School to City Honors:- Table of Contents

Preface | 1973-74 | 1975-76 | 1976 | 1975-80 | 1980-95 | 1995-98 | Staff

A Brief History of City Honors High School From 1975 to 1998

1975-80: The Alessi Era

The cover of the first CHS yearbook in 1977-78.


The 1979-80 Directory cover featured a drawing by student David Saiia that would be the model for future depictions of Chiron the Centaur, our school mascot.


The program for "Hair: A Cut and Washed version" in 1977.

The next September, in 1977, City Honors was assigned its own principal, Elmer Shamber. His impact, however, was minimal in that he was assigned to Performing Arts after only one year at CHS.

was also a principal at Honors, but

Succeeding Shamber was Angelo Gianturco. Because of a car accident that resulted in Gianturco’s absence, the acting principal became Curriculum Coordinator Sam Alessi whose educational philosophy (based on John Dewey’s theories) and personable leadership shaped the first five years of the program, beginning at Bennett.

Alessi emphasized the cooperative nature of the program and fostered multi-day activities like fine arts festivals and workshops on City Honors as an Ideal Community. He was one of the teachers who team taught an interdisciplinary course, in cooperation with UB architectural design professors and students, with the interesting title of Garbage Picking in Nickel City.

Extremely popular among students, Alessi was affectionately pictured as Big Brother in flyers for 1984 Day, orchestrated by students in Dinny Rochford's 1978 junior English class who were studying the acclaimed George Orwell novel. Unsuspecting high school students were accosted by "Thought Police" who confiscated their lunches as they entered the school in the morning. For lunch, students were served cabbage soup; discipline was extreme: they were not allowed to speak during classes, and "uncooperative" or "unruly" students were hauled off to a "detention center" to be badgered by Thought Police. By mid-afternoon, the student body had organized and revolted — the day was a success!

For the high school, the location at Main and Delavan was important and involved freedom associated with an "open campus," i.e., students were free to leave the building when they did not have classes. Imitating colleges, there were no bells between classes. Students took swimming at the Canisius College Koessler Center across the street, took science labs at Canisius at Main and Jefferson, ate lunch at Canisius or Sears Roebuck (now the Blue Cross building), and browsed happily next door at Record Theater. In good weather, Forest Lawn Cemetery, also across the street, was the scene for science classes (especially at the Scajaquada Creek), history classes (studying historically important monuments), English classes (creative writing under the trees), and a favorite site for yearbook pictures.

The psychological break from Bennett took a few years but was given impetus when high school students voted Chiron the Centaur as its school mascot, and chose cardinal red and silver as the school colors. The first yearbook was produced in 1977-78.

The first school newspaper ("The Orion") was mimeographed in 1978-79. The first high school directory was printed in 1978-79.

The school alma mater was composed by students Curtis Williams and Derek Baker in 1978-79.

The first musical, a "cut and washed" version of "Hair," was produced in the McKinley H.S. auditorium.

City Honors Alma Mater

Born from a dream of the mind
Nurtured by pat--tience and time
We have no limit it seems
Filled with promise and dreams
City Honors
Proud and strong whose will keeps living on

To you we give our hearts
In progress we all are a part
True be we may
To the red and the gray
City Honors
proud and strong whose will keeps living on

Today we hold the best
Keeping in all our in-ter-est
We own our tomorrows
Fulfilling our highest goals
City Honors
Proud and strong whose will keeps living on
Proud and strong whose will keeps living on

In an attempt to recruit more boys (the program has always had more girls), high school teacher/coach Willie Evans was recruited to start varsity teams. Up till this point, CHS students played on Bennett's teams (just as CHS football players still play today on other public school teams). In the early years, our sports teams were mocked because of stereotypes associated with honors students. After a few years, however, because of Evans’ coaching skills and because our students have always been highly coachable, the teams developed winning habits – and attracted more males to the school.

Conflict
Tensions between the middle school and high school culminated in the spring of 1978 in a proposal to house the high school in the vacated Cardinal Doughtery building on Hertel Avenue, while keeping the middle school at 


ntendent Gene Reville and Associate Superintendent Joe Murray, who were both present, listened carefully.

At the end of the next school year, 1980, CHS was moved, after a four-year stay at Main and Delavan, to the vacated Fosdick-Masten Girls Vocational School building. Fosdick-Masten had graduated its last class of girls in June of 1979. The building was then stripped and used as a warehouse for a year. It was scheduled for demolition, to be replaced with more housing for the Pilgrim Village. Instead, miraculously some say, the building was ready for City Honors occupancy, more or less, by September 1980.


This page was created by the City Honors School Webmasters class under the supervision of Chuck LaChiusa
Color photos and their arrangement © 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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