Citizenship

1921
Little Red School House Founded by Elisabeth Irwin

Little Red School House Founded by Elisabeth Irwin

Elisabeth Irwin founded the Little Red School House in 1921 in the attic room of the P.S. 61 Annex at 535 East 16th Street as an alternative public elementary school. Parents and students loved the new dynamic learning community. It..Read More

1925
First June Camp

First June Camp

From 1925 through the early 1960s, all LREI students spent the month of June in the country. This was called June Camp. LREI continues this tradition with a four-day trip for lower school students we now call the Farm Trip.

1932
Roosevelt and Dewey Help LRSH

Roosevelt and Dewey Help LRSH

Upon reading the news, John Dewey fumed publicly that the Board’s decision to eliminate Elisabeth Irwin’s public-private partnership was “reactionary and an outrage.“ Eleanor Roosevelt, then First Lady of New York State, worked behind the scenes to  gain support for..Read More

1932
Parents Save LRSH

Parents Save LRSH

Parents meet at an ice cream parlor on Sixth Avenue and resolve to raise money to continue Little Red School House as an independent school.

1932
Classes begin at 196 Bleecker Street

Classes begin at 196 Bleecker Street

We opened that first fall with five groups of children, from 5 to 9 years old — 161 children in all. The next year we added a 10 year-old group. Each year we added another group, taking all children who..Read More

1932
First Parent Association Meeting

First Parent Association Meeting

The first parent association meeting is held in LRSH’s new building at 196 Bleecker Street.

1945
Students Mobilize for Yugoslav Relief

Students Mobilize for Yugoslav Relief

LRSH students participated in the American Committee for Yugoslav Relief’s Winter Clothing Campaign to aid Yugoslav children in need.

1945
LRSH Student Gives Speech Before State Legislature, Receives Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt

LRSH Student Gives Speech Before State Legislature, Receives Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt

Paul Coburn, a ten-year-old at LRSH, made a speech before the State Legislature, in favor of the Ives-Quinn Anti-Discrimination Bill, which would make New York the first state to enact legislation curtailing the practice of discriminating against job applicants and employees based on race, religion, or creed...Read More

1946
Students Visit Phelps-Dodge Strike

Students Visit Phelps-Dodge Strike

Ninth graders visit the Phelps-Dodge Strike at the Phelps-Dodge Copper Products Corporation plant in Elizabeth, NJ. The eight-month-old strike was one of the longest major industrial disputes on record in the nation, resulting in a 18.5% hourly wage increase and..Read More

1950
EI Marches with NAACP

EI Marches with NAACP

Elisabeth Irwin students marched with a delegation from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Washington D.C. on January 16, 1950 to advocate for Congressional action on the passage of the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC). EI..Read More

1951
LRSH Saved from Demolition

LRSH Saved from Demolition

LRSH is saved from demolition under Robert Moses‘ never-realized slum clearance plan despite his finding that it was “not advisable” for the school to remain standing (see letter). The threat of demolition that has hung over the Little Red School..Read More

1952
Dr. Randolph B. Smith Defends the Bill of Rights

Dr. Randolph B. Smith Defends the Bill of Rights

Randolph Smith was called to testify on “Subversive Influence in the Educational Process” at hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate in September, 1952.

1957
EI Students Attend Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom

EI Students Attend Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom

The date was May 17, 1957. Three years ago on that date the Supreme Court of the land added a new verse to freedom’s song. “Desegregate and state to integrate” chorused the nine men in black. And now three years..Read More

1957
10s Play About Integration

10s Play About Integration

A play by the 10s about integration was performed at an assembly in 1957, and then later at the high school. Teacher Mimi Levy transcribed phrases from class discussions of integration and turned their words into the script, which was..Read More

1958
EI Students Attend Youth March for Integrated Schools

EI Students Attend Youth March for Integrated Schools

On Saturday, October 25, 1958, EI students traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the Youth March for Integrated Schools led by A. Philip Randolph, Jackie Robinson, Coretta Scott King, Harry Belafonte, Bayard Rustin.

1958
Prime Minister Nehru Writes to Students at LRSH

Prime Minister Nehru Writes to Students at LRSH

In 1958, LRSH students sent Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India letters and drawings wishing him a happy birthday. In response, he wrote: I am glad to know that you have been learning about India in your class. India is..Read More

1960
EI Students Picket Woolworth’s

EI Students Picket Woolworth’s

Students from EI picket Woolworths at 39th Street and Fifth Avenue as part of a Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) drive.

1963

March on Washington

EI students travel to Washington D.C. to attend the March on Washington D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963, where Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in which he called for an end to racism.”..Read More

1964
Alvin Ailey and Others Perform to Benefit Scholarship Program

Alvin Ailey and Others Perform to Benefit Scholarship Program

The LRSH annual “midnight show” features Jack Gilford, Alvin Ailey and others. This one begins not at midnight like previous shows, but at 8:30 pm.

1964
Students Visit Pennsylvania Coal Mines

Students Visit Pennsylvania Coal Mines

As part of our social studies course, the 11th grade took a 6 day trip to Pennsylvania. The three main objectives of the trip were to study coal mining conditions in the mining towns themselves and to visit farms of..Read More

1964

EI Students Participate in World’s Fair Demonstrations

Thirty EI students joined the demonstration on opening day of the 1964 World’s Fair. The students picketed the Louisiana Pavilion led by James Farmer and Bayard Rustin. Four students were arrested including Lisa Fein (Gilford), Liz Leicester, and Tom Hurwitz,..Read More

1972
Middle School Opens, Is Dedicated to Randolph Smith

Middle School Opens, Is Dedicated to Randolph Smith

The Dr. Randolph B. Smith Middle School is established in the buildings at 200/202 Bleecker Street. Until then, grades 5-8 were part of the high school in the 40 Charlton Street building.

1980

EIHS Saved

LREI students rally to stop their beloved school from closing, mostly due to financial hardship. The school was ultimately saved by its community and remained open.

1983

LREI Celebrates 50 Years

  LREI celebrates 50 years of being an independent school. Founded in 1921, LREI was a public school until the NYC Board of Education discontinued its funding. The LREI community raised funds to continue the school as an independent school..Read More

1989
An evening with LREI Parents Willem Dafoe (P’00), Harvey Keitel (P’97), and Richard Brown (P’94)

An evening with LREI Parents Willem Dafoe (P’00), Harvey Keitel (P’97), and Richard Brown (P’94)

On a snowy Friday, January 6th, 1989, an enthusiastic audience of students, parents, and friends of the school enjoyed and evening with LREI parents Willem Dafoe and Harvey Keitel in a discussion moderated by noted film teacher and theorist Richard..Read More

1990
Willam Kunstler (P’94/P’96) Speaks at MLK Assembly

Willam Kunstler (P’94/P’96) Speaks at MLK Assembly

Lawyer, civil rights activist, and LREI parent William Kunstler spoke to students at the annual Martin Luther King Day assembly.

1991
EIHS Saved

EIHS Saved

A second attempt to close the high school is rejected by the students, faculty, parents, and alumni. The Fund for the High School is established to raise funds earmarked specifically for the upper division.

1996
Founder’s Day

Founder’s Day

The first annual Founder’s Day, established by Director Andrew Maclaren, pays tribute to Elisabeth Irwin.

1997
LREI Celebrates 75th Anniversary

LREI Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Click here to see the LREI 75th Anniversary booklet that includes photographs and student recollections of the school.

2001

LREI Honors FDNY Engine 24, Ladder 5

In November 2001, FDNY and NYPD officers joined LREI students and faculty in an assembly to honor the 11 FDNY Engine 24, Ladder 5, Battalion 2 firefighters who died on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center. Their firehouse..Read More

2003

LREI Marches in NYC Pride March

LREI marches in the New York City Pride March. For this annual event, LREI shares a float with the Calhoun School complete with a DJ “booth” and rainbows galore. (Photos in slideshow are from 2014)

2003
LREI Hires Director of Diversity and Community

LREI Hires Director of Diversity and Community

LREI hires Sharon Dupree as its first Director of Diversity and Community. Sandra “Chap” Chapman (also pictured here on the right) becomes Director of Equity and Community in 2007.

2004
Phil Kassen Becomes Director

Phil Kassen Becomes Director

When Phil Kassen was asked by a parent during the search process for LREI’s new director, “Why have you stayed at LREI for so long?” his response was: There are many reasons, large and small, including these: Mission-Driven—LREI is true..Read More

2007
Students March to Fight Global Warming

Students March to Fight Global Warming

On Saturday, April 14, 2007 over 90 members of the LREI community covered themselves in blue and joined hands with thousands of others to form the human coastline around lower Manhattan called the Sea of People. Consisting of a U-shaped..Read More

2007
The Power and Price of Privilege

The Power and Price of Privilege

Tim Wise, Director of the Association for White Anti-racist Education (AWARE) came to LREI to facilitate dialogue on race and privilege in America with students, faculty, and parents. He discussed the historical foundations of white privilege and how it is..Read More

2014
LREI Students at Drink Up with Michelle Obama

LREI Students at Drink Up with Michelle Obama

LREI students participated in Drink Up, a collaboration to encourage everyone to drink more water between the Partnership for a Healthier America – which works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chairwoman Michelle Obama to make the healthy choice..Read More

2014
New High School Wing Opens

New High School Wing Opens

The Charlton Street Arts Pavilion opens, a five-story visual and performing arts addition at the High School with classrooms and studios designed to inspire and to create space to better support progressive practice.

2016
New York Magazine Features LREI Protesters

New York Magazine Features LREI Protesters

LREI students featured in New York Magazine’s annual “Reasons to Love New York ” 12th edition, 2016: No. 2 | Because Even Our Protesters Are Precocious. Read the full article here.

2016
LREI Students Protest Constitution Pipeline

LREI Students Protest Constitution Pipeline

LREI students travel to Albany to protest the Constitution Pipeline.

2017
LREI at Women’s March

LREI at Women’s March

LREI students and teachers participated in the Women’s March, a worldwide protest on January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. It was prompted by the fact that several of Trump’s statements were considered by many..Read More

2017
Facing Whiteness

Facing Whiteness

Filmmaker and educator Whitney Dow spoke at LREI as part of the 2017 ideas Speaker Series. His project “Facing Whiteness” examines how Americans who identify as “white,” or “partially white,” process their ethnicity, and pair it with secondary quantitative data..Read More

2018

National School Walkout Against Gun Violence

Thousands Protest Against Gun Violence Across the U.S., including LREI students from all three divisions. The younger students stood in with signs outside of the Sixth Avenue building while high school students joined crowds of protesters in Washington Square Park...Read More

2018
School Was Our Life Book Launch

School Was Our Life Book Launch

LREI hosted the book launch of School Was Our Life: Remembering Progressive Education by philosopher Jane Roland Martin ‘47, a collection of stories and recollections from students who attended Little Red during the 1930s and 1940s, the peak of progressive..Read More

2018
All-School Read of I AM JAZZ

All-School Read of I AM JAZZ

In 2018, LREI participated in the first annual all-school read of the book I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings. This book, as well as several other books on the topics of gender and identity, have played an important role in..Read More

2020
The Democracy  Project

The Democracy Project

LREI launches a collective, school-wide effort called The Democracy Project to uphold this country’s core democratic values. The Democracy Project is a student-led initiative to help the LREI student community become more knowledgeable on and involved in the democratic process,..Read More

2020

LREI Moves Online

In March 2020, LREI moved online to LREI@home. Teachers, faced with the Herculean task of creating from scratch virtual classrooms that brought LREI’s hands-on, participatory learning onto zoom in the space of two weeks, accomplished the impossible by finding creative..Read More

2020

Back to School 2020-2021

LREI opened for in-person classes in October 2020 after several months of LREI@home. Masked, socially distanced, and with windows open through the winter, students and teachers rallied to find creative ways to make school not only a safe space for..Read More

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