Don’t call it Lehman – sort of.
Herbert H. Lehman High School will reopen next year as Throggs Neck High School at the Lehman Campus.
That doesn’t quite roll around on the tongue, especially since the school’s mascot is the Lehman Lion.
The new school year will also see a number of new teachers and staff, all part of a federal “turnaround” or “transformation” program making it eligible for around $900,000 per semester in grants.
About half of Lehman’s current teachers can be put into a citywide substitute pool with almost the same pay and benefits if they cannot find jobs in other city schools, pending the outcome of ongoing litigation.
The decision to shake up the school was made in an 8-4 vote by the Panel For Educational Policy.
Lehman’s new name had to be approved by school’s chancellor Dennis Walcott, said Lehman principal Rose LoBianco.
Outside the school on Monday, May 14, the reaction of several students was mixed.
“The name makes no difference,” said Timothy Torres, 17. “Everybody will still come here and do the same things. Everyone is still going to recognize and call the school Lehman. No one is going to call it Throggs Neck High School.”
“The students have taken pride in Lehman High School, and to change the name now is destroying all of that,” said senior Carlos Vides, 17.
The new name could have been a better historical one, opined local historian and Times Reporter columnist Bill Twomey.
“The first name that would come to mind would be Sinoway High, after the Sinoway Indian tribe that inhabited the area,” said Twomey. “Thomas Pell established a settlement in Westchester Square in 1654. Thomas Pell High School would be a good name.”
Another possibility by both Twomey and Bronx County Historian Lloyd Ultan would be naming the school after John Throckmorton, who settled Throggs Neck east of Westchester Creek, which the school now straddles, in 1642.
“The timing was pretty bad for Throckmorton because there was an Indian uprising in 1643 and everyone fled for their lives, with a passing English ship picking the settlers up,” Ultan said. “They got on the ship and saw the Indians burn all the buildings they had built, burn the crops and slaughter the cattle. Throggs Neck is a corruption on Throckmorton’s Neck.”
Aside from Throckmorton High School, another possible name could have been after Caleb Heathcoate, the first mayor of the borough of Westchester, near where Westchester Square is now located, Ultan said.