Truman High School’s planetarium opened along with the school itself, in 1973. For over 20 years it was a destination for students from all over School Board 11. But the planetarium closed in 1997, and went unused. Until this school year.
On Wednesday, November 16, Truman officially unveiled its new, fully upgraded 186-seat planetarium.
Former Bronx borough president and Truman alum Adolfo Carrion helped cut the ribbon on the planetarium and addressed students during a special assembly. Carrion then joined the students and principal Sana Nasser in watching a show about the solar system on the planetarium’s dome.
“So many memories came rushing back as I walked through these doors,” Carrion told students.
He said investing in schools and local projects that are benefit young people, such as the planetarium, are key to the country’s future.
“If we cannot build the kinds of institutions that promote imagination, then we’ve failed.”
Carrion now serves as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s regional administrator for New York and New Jersey.
In 2009, he allocated the $375,000 Truman needed to revamp the planetarium and bring it up to date.
Renovating and reopening the planetarium was Nasser’s brainchild.
She had repeatedly lobbied Carrion for the funds while he was in office. But initially she thought it would cost seven figures, and Carrion said the price was too steep.
Once Nasser found a contractor that could complete the project for under $400,000, she immediately called Bob Nolan, Carrion’s budget director to relay the price quote. Nolan informed Carrion, who approved the project, and Truman’s new planetarium was set in motion.
“We had talked about the project, but it was too much,” Nolan said at the opening. “But once (Carrion) heard it could be done for less, he said ‘Bob, whatever we have to do. Put it at the top of your list.’”
It has been used by science classes since school opened this year. Truman’s science faculty expect it to be fully worked into the high school’s curriculum by the spring semester.
Sophomore Kathy Colon said the revamped planetarium will be an asset.
“It will help kids with learning,” she said. “We’ll use it with science classes, so instead of just writing all the time, we’ll be able to actually see it.”
Nasser sees eventually being an amenity for not just the high school, but younger students from nearby schools, and the entire surrounding community.
“Every kid will be here,” she said. “People go to the Hayden Planetarium (in Manhattan) just for fun. I want them to come here.”
Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394.