“It can’t happen, it just can’t happen,” said Assemblymember Cathy Nolan as she shook her head at the thought of her alma mater, Grover Cleveland High School, closing its doors.
A similar scenario 35 years ago helped launch Nolan’s political aspirations.
In the mid-70s, during the city’s fiscal crisis, there was a push to shut down Grover Cleveland. This was the catalyst for Nolan to leap into student government and politics.
“The school helped make me the person I am.”
Before sitting through the three-and-a-half-hour public hearing, Nolan joined protesting students on the steps of the 81-year-old school, many of whom the assemblymember said she expects to join her one day in Albany.
“This terrible threat to our community high school has been met with I think the strongest outpouring of support in my many years of community service,” Nolan said, adding she was moved by the students’ speeches.
“I want the record to reflect that we love our high school,” said Nolan at the hearing. “The restart model is supposed to be a long-term plan with the school receiving funds and taking part in the model over three years. To decide that after five months to abruptly pursue a different and more drastic route is bad public policy.”
Nolan’s turn at the microphone brought the crowd of more than 1,000 supporters to their feet several times and produced some of the loudest cheers of the night.
“I don’t even really remember what I said. I just spoke from the heart.”
Nolan’s standing as an alumna is affecting her as much, if not more,than her place as a politician, she said.
“You have to listen to us,” pleaded Nolan to the panel at the hearing that will help decide the school’s fate on April 26.
“I’m not even going to consider that the school’s going to close. I don’t even want to think about it right now. If we have to, we’ll bring even more people April 26,” she said. “I mean it just can’t happen.”