Education / Environment / Food

From the editor: A new school for Hunts Point

Photo by Joe Hirsch

Creating the garden at The Point's River Campus. Stephen Ritz is at the right.


The day before he spoke at the New York Academy of Medicine in January, Stephen Ritz’s students planted an “edible wall” of vegetables grown on vertical supports outside the auditorium.

Sharing his pride with the medical professionals gathered for a symposium on obesity, Ritz told them, “On my sleeve, I wear this fundamental belief that kids should not have to leave their community to live, learn and earn in a better one.”

For years, Ritz has been trying to persuade the city Department of Education that that vision deserves a chance in Hunts Point, where he has worked with The Point Community Development Corp. to start a new high school.

The school has a jaw-breaker of a name—the Hunts Point High School for Sustainable Community Initiatives—but an easily-understood purpose–to make urban agriculture the centerpiece of a curriculum that would provide healthy food to the neighborhood while teaching skills leading to jobs in recycling, food management, horticulture and environmentally-friendly construction.

The school’s would-be founders have sunk deep roots in the community. They have built coalitions not only with The Point, but with other non-profits and businesses.

Local teens are among the students who have planted a series of green walls like the one at the Academy of Medicine. They have been featured on national news. They have helped plant a vegetable garden on The Point’s River campus.

In recent weeks, the city has announced plans to close 25 schools. Nine of them are in the Bronx, and the plan affects more students from the Bronx than from any of the other boroughs. Where is the corresponding positive action?

Isn’t it time for the education department to say Yes to the Hunts Point High School and let this seed planted by those working on its behalf sprout and grow to nourish this community?

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