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Editorial: Remembering, Or Perhaps Glad To Forget, The Alva T. Stanforth School

I didn’t grow up when it was open. I didn’t attend seventh and eighth-grade there, but it was an eyesore that attracted problems and cast a shadow over a community that prides itself on upholding the image of the neighborhood.

It’s been a few years since the building was taken down, and in reflecting on what was the abandoned Alva T. Stanforth Junior High School, it’s a good thing it’s long gone. It closed after the 1984-85 school year.

It was demolished in 2005, one year after I moved out of Elmont.

For years, ATS, as it came to be known, had been a source of controversy. Since its closure in 1985, a use for ATS could never be agreed upon until early 2004.

The Elmont School District attempted to purchase the school from the Sewanhaka Central High School District and reopen it, using the existing structure, but failed. Then there was the proposal by the organization People for the Preservation of ATS (PPATS) to open it again as a school. However, that proposal was not received well by the Sewanhaka Central High School District Board of Education.

Then in late 2003, a proposal was made by the Elmont Public Library to purchase part of the site. In early 2004, ATS was sold to the library. The rest is history.

I grew up five minutes east of that property near St. Vincent De Paul Church, played baseball there and participated in numerous snowball fights during winters in Elmont.

I was reminded of the school when I attended a community meeting last week at the library. I took a walk near the field and remembered; I remembered the broken glass strewn around and graffiti-filled walls. I recalled playing handball in the parking lot and waiting to be picked up by mom and dad.

I remember when I was in elementary school, reading in the Elmont Life of the up and down process of trying to resurrect the building in the form a school once again.

Another school in its place would’ve been nice, had they knocked ATS down completely to rebuild. But making it a remodeling job, utilizing the existing structure, especially with the condition it was in, was, thankfully, determined to be ill-advised.

Today, I’d rather stare at the Elmont Memorial Library standing in that spot, instead of the deteriorating, brown-bricked, moss-filled building and grounds that occupied that place before.

—RF