A Southern Brooklyn High School Is All Set To Get One Of The Best Auditoriums


A Southern Brooklyn High School Is All Set To Get One Of The Best Auditoriums

As staff finishes a $7.5 million redesign of their sprawling concert hall, students at a southern Brooklyn high school will soon have one of the finest school auditoriums in the world.

Broadway-inspired auditorium to give new life to Gravesend high school •  Brooklyn Paper

According to one theater professor, the renovations at John Dewey High School would restore a stage venue that was once regarded as one of the best in southern Brooklyn.

“John Dewey High School — for everyone who comes from southern Brooklyn and grew up here — that was the stage to be on,” said Sara Steinweiss, a former theater teacher at New Utrecht High School who taught “Hamilton” star Anthony Ramos. “That’s where I did my first dance recital.”

In 1969, when the radical high school opened its doors in Gravesend, John Dewey High School opened its huge theatre. The school boasted a radical pedagogy in its earlier years and was consistently listed by Newsweek and the US News and World Report in the national high school rankings.

But the school began a downward turn by the beginning of the 2010s. The Bloomberg administration almost closed the school almost seven years ago, faced with declining attendance, and increasing drop-out rate, and poor test scores.

In order to hold John Dewey safe, Local Councilman Mark Treyger and school officials collaborated and pledged to turn the school around.

Look At What The Founder Of Stadium Said

Treyger, who funded the theater upgrades said that John Dewey was going through a very turbulent time when he took office. The staff morale was very poor.

Under Principal Connie Hamilton, who took the reins in 2015, the school has pulled out of its most daunting period. But many of its buildings, including its more than 900-seat auditorium, remain redundant, Treyger said.

A few years ago, Treyger said to help modernize the campus, Hamilton and her team started partnering with the local politician and former educator to brainstorm infrastructural changes. 

At the principal and assistant principal’s behest, Treyger set aside $3 million in renovations last year for the culinary kitchen. Yet the founders of the school expected a much more comprehensive renovation of the concert hall. It is used not only by the school. But also by a host of neighborhood organizations and senior services.

Facilities The Auditorium Will Provide

The upgrades will include an air conditioning system, a new and upgraded floor, seating, lighting, dressing areas, acoustic cushioning. And also spaces for sound management, stage design, and music for John Dewey’s theatre.

The theater will now receive state-of-the-art sound technology that transmits sound directly to hearing aids.

The new auditorium would not only act as a performance venue but as a crucial educational asset, Steinweiss. He helped advise Treyger on the upgrades, said.

“Most individuals who are not in education do not always view arts education with the importance it has,” she said. “It becomes so much more than ‘Oh you guys put on a play.’ You built a whole individual.”

Steinweiss said that she wished she should have served like one John Dewey is getting in an auditorium.


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