Bronx High School of Science Class of 1977 – Mini Reunion in New Delhi

“What has it been – 30 years since we’ve seen each other?”  “No”, I say, disbelieving, “it can’t be – it’s got to be 20-something. ”  “Yes it is – 30 years – 1977 to 2007”, insists Adnan.  Well, duh, if you want to get all math and science about it! (I was always better in English, anyway.)

Adnan Siddiqi, Counselor for Cultural Affairs, U.S. Embassy of New Delhi, is still a nerd.  Really nice, but a nerd.  He’s got his diploma from Science (I don’t even know where mine is; I would say that my parents had it, but I know that at some point in my adulthood, my father gave me all the important documents up to that point in my life as a rite of passage – biiig mistake, Dad), as well as  every other diploma and award he has ever received, hanging on the wall in his office at the American Center near Connought Place in New Delhi, he has taken his family to visit Bronx Science every year that they are back in the U.S. (last year, they even went in and got a tour!), and he has Googled classmates.  Science is a special place, but really!

The Bronx High School of Science is one of three  specialized public high schools in New York City with a focus on math and science.  The other two are Stuyvesant (our major competitor) and Brooklyn Tech.  Sometime in eighth grade, in Junior High School 80 in the Bronx, I took a test, not knowing what it was for, and discovered that I had placed into Bronx Science.  (Later, I had discovered that some of my classmates had auditioned for the High School of Performing Art (of “Fame” fame) or presented portfolios for the High School of Music and Art.)

Junior High School 80 was a pretty tough place.  Many of my classmates did not go on to high school because they had to get jobs to support their families, and many got married shortly thereafter.  When I got to the Bronx after spending a year in West New York, New Jersey, fresh off the boat from Uganda, I was placed in class 8-5, sort of mid-level in the academic range in the eighth grade, because the school had no history to guage my academic performance, and I had not taken a foreign language class.  So, after a week being intimidated by girls with bulging muscles and made to take attendance every day, I was moved up to 8-1, and a few days after that, 8-SPE (special).  I was coasting on the strength of my primary school education in Uganda, a legacy of the British.  I don’t remember much about my experience at J.H.S. 80 except that there were many times that I wished I would get a “B” or a “C” so that I would fit in with the rest of my classmates in 8-5, and hopefully, not get beaten up.

My first day at Bronx Science, I quickly learned that many of my classmates were certified geniuses, and that I had no hopes of competing with anyone there.  Plus, the school had no rankings, and gave out a special diploma – no need to compete!  I basically hung out with the black kids in the lunchroom and played cards (Hearts) everyday.  That was my only socializing with the kids at school.  We didn’t have the same sort of “school spirit” that “normal” schools had because most of the kids rushed to take buses and subways for their hour to hour and a half commutes back home in every borough of New York City.  We didn’t have a football team or a swimming pool (when I went there).  Instead, we had speech and debate teams and a bowling team!

I met Adnan and his colleagues in the Cultural Affairs bureau of the American Embassy on 5 March in conjuction with our Friends Without Borders project.  (Adnan recognized my name when we submitted our names for clearance the day before our meeting at the American Center.)  The next day, Mark and I had a lovely evening with Adnan and his wife Raja and met one of their three kids (two boys and a girl).  We discovered that we had both taken AP (advanced placement) English and History (European history, I think) and both agreed that Mr. Rifkin, our AP English teacher was one of the best teachers we’d ever had.

Adnan, Raja, and Mark are all trying to convince me to go to our 30th reunion, which Adnan informs me may be in October this year.  I would, but I’ll be rafting through the Grand Canyon then.  Really.


6 Responses to “Bronx High School of Science Class of 1977 – Mini Reunion in New Delhi”

  1. 1 Yaniv March 9, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Mr. Rifkin! He was there when I attended as well, though I never had him.

  2. 2 john wong July 25, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I too attended Junior High School 80 in the Bronx. I was part of this “strange math curriculum” (I think it was an enriched program math a.k.a. EP math). The math class was PUNISHMENT.
    For example; Junior High School 80 had kids in the SP or EP class. Those in the SP clss crammed three years of school into two years of junior high school. So when these kids graduated ’80 they entered high school as sophmores. Pretty advanced right? But those are regular classes crammed into two years.
    This math class I took made up for me not being in the SP program. All I remember was I struggled to stay in. But when I got to high school I breezed through algebra.
    The rest of the story goes like this. I entered Brooklyn Tech sophmore year. Due to my “training” at ’80, algebra and trig was a breeze. Geometry was harder maybe because some of it is proofs (as in english word proof), not too much pure math.
    Does anybody out there know what i”m speaking about?

  3. 3 Yoo-Mi July 25, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Hi John,

    I thought what you are referring to as “EP” was “ESP” – so it was SP and ESP – although I never knew what the initials represented. I remember taking biology at John F. Kennedy High School in Riverdale while still at JHS 80. Three other students and I would make our way by bus and then walk the rest of the way to the high school to take a science class not offered in Junior High. I don’t remember the math class though…

  4. 4 Zulema Morin June 28, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I was a member of BS class of ’77.
    I remember Adnan as being somewhat shy, gentle and had excellent manners.
    He had a group of us to his home once and his mother was very kind and welcoming (I still remember her refreshing yogurt and dill dip 🙂 )
    I don’t remember him as being particularly “nerdy”…after all, we were a school full of “nerds”! Please pass on my email to him so he can contact me if he remembers me. I live in the Metro NY area.

    • 5 judy September 19, 2011 at 1:58 am

      this is judy chalikulima class of 77 my fater was the zambian highcomissioner and we had the biggest family at the school do you remember me.i remember David in Brasilia this my email address please pass on email to any one who is from my time chali

      • 6 MOHAMMED GOBIR January 9, 2015 at 2:13 pm

        judy, this is Mohammed Gobir. Am Amos friend from Nigeria. we were the Nigeria Ambassador children in Delhi then. being looking for you guys. pls get in touch. mohgobir

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