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Greenacres Alumni Return to Their Former Elementary School

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Bill Haskel, Tom Hoynes, and David Helgans returned to their childhood recently. Figuratively speaking. 

The three friends, originally from Scarsdale and now scattered around the country, relived theirevenings playing baseball in the neighborhood and remembered treasured teachers.

They marveled at the notion that computer classes are now a part of the curriculum at Greenacres School, where in the late 1960s and early 1970s -- when they attended -- the Internet, emails, texts, and even cable TV hadn’t been invented. They walked or rode their bikes to and from school every day, and went home for lunch.

They spoke wistfully about field trips to the Museum of Natural History, the Bronx Zoo, and the Red Maple Swamp.

The three men visited Catherine Manin’s Greenacres classroom this week, to speak with her current class about what it was like to attend their school in the ‘60s and ‘70s. All three men grew up together,remained friends over the years, and graduated from Greenacres in 1972.

As it turns out, Mr. Haskel, Mr. Hoynes and Mr. Helgans were also classmates at Scarsdale High School with Ms. Manin. After the men won a silent auction item at the Greenacres 100 th Anniversary Gala last year, permitting them to visit their old school, they contacted Ms. Manin and made their plans.

For their part, Ms. Manin’s students were prepared with lots of questions for their grown visitors.

What were some of their favorite memories?

Dragging a large equipment box to the Greenacres ball field after school every day during the spring, and playing baseball for hours, “until the street lights came on,” said Mr. Helgans. “Our entire lives were wrapped up in playing on that field.”

Mr. Hoynes, now a film producer in Berkley, Calif., recalled arriving to school early on some mornings, just to play basketball in the playground.

The visitors also noted that during the 1970s, until the passage of Title 9, few girls played sports because teams weren’t even offered to girls.

As kindergartners, the men remembered, they came to school every day with their own blanket, for nap time, and their own smock, for art.

Mr. Haskel, now a lawyer in Boston, also wistfully recalled his favorite field trip to New Hampshire with the late John Gosen, “my favorite teacher of my whole life.” The beloved Mr. Gosen taught at Greenacres from the 1960s through the 1980s and is memorialized at the school with a Bradford pear tree and a bronze groundhog sculpture in front of the school.

Ultimately, said Mr. Helgans, now an advertising executive who lives in Darien, Conn., “Greenacres looks almost exactly the same today as it did in our day.”

“We left Greenacres in 1972,” Mr. Haskel told the youngsters, most of whom were born in 2006. “That

was 44 years ago – which is crazy, because I’m only 39!”




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