Community

LREI is a community built on understanding and respect for others. Like New York City, we are diverse in every sense of the word. We are scientists, artists, historians and more. We embody a wide range of interests, beliefs, family structures and backgrounds. We thrive on the unique ideas and perspectives each person brings to the school.

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.

1934
International Exhibit of Children’s Paintings Benefit

International Exhibit of Children’s Paintings Benefit

In 1934, LRSH organized the first International Exhibition of Children’s Painting at Rockefeller Center, representing work from forty countries. It honored the creativity of children on a scale that had never been imagined before, let alone attempted. Eleanor Roosevelt, the..Read More

1937
LRSH Purchases Bleecker Street Building

LRSH Purchases Bleecker Street Building

The Little Red School House purchases 196-198 Bleecker Street from The First Presbyterian Church, who had let the school use the building free of charge until then.

1941
High School Opens

High School Opens

LRSH purchases the 40 Charlton Street building, a former church and settlement house purchased from the Episcopal Mission Society, and opens the high school, which is posthumously named for Elisabeth Irwin in 1942.

1942
Elisabeth Irwin Letter to Students

Elisabeth Irwin Letter to Students

Elisabeth Irwin sent this very moving letter to students, written from her hospital bed weeks before her death. In the letter, she encourages the students to “Please sing the songs that we love so well so that I can hear..Read More

1943

Leonard Bernstein, Virgil Thomson, Pearl Bailey Perform at Benefit

Leonard Bernstein, Virgil Thomson, Pearl Bailey, and others  perform at a benefit concert at Town Hall in 1943 to raise funds for the machine shop and science laboratory for wartime courses.

1944
EI Students Get to Know their Neighbors

EI Students Get to Know their Neighbors

EI students interview journalist Celila Ventura about her Italian heritage in an effort to understand the Italian-American community just east of the school. “Instead of interviewing, I was interviewed by thirty well-behaved, friendly children,” Ventura writes. “Their questions ranged from..Read More

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
EI High School Song

EI High School Song

Hear Tom Hurwitz, ’65, sing the Elisabeth Irwin High School song, written by David Roland, ’48 and Alan Garb, ’47. Listen to Hurwitz’s StoryLab interview where he talks about why the song is no longer sung, and about the only..Read More

1945
Democracy in the Classroom

Democracy in the Classroom

On democracy in the classroom: Of course the approach to this idea with very young children would necessarily and naturally be very different from that used with older children. … One does not use the word itself …[ b]ut one..Read More

1946
LRSH Action Committee

LRSH Action Committee

The Little Red School House Action Committee joined other Greenwich Village schools in a brave try at getting some of its “anti-everything neighbors” to see the “other fellow’s point of view”.  It established a Human Relations Workshop with the aim..Read More

1947
Avon Long Performs at EI

Avon Long Performs at EI

Broadway star Avon Long performs at EI as part of Black History Week celebration.  

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
Jack Gilford and Harry Belafonte Perform at LRSH Fundraiser

Jack Gilford and Harry Belafonte Perform at LRSH Fundraiser

Third Annual Midnight Show of Stars to benefit the scholarship fund on Saturday, April 5, 1952 at the high school features Jack Gilford, Harry Belafonte and others. These annual fundraisers began at midnight and went well into the wee hours.

1953
Sophomore Girls Visit Welfare Island

Sophomore Girls Visit Welfare Island

Three tenth grade EI students volunteer at the Metropolitan Hospital on Welfare Island. The students were members of the Councillettes of Jewish Women, an organization composed of girls from thirteen to seventeen years of age. Their job was to “keep..Read More

1954
Frank Silvera Visits EI

Frank Silvera Visits EI

As part of E.I.’s observance of Black History Week, Tony-nominated actor Frank Silvera, spoke to students about the history of Black actors in American theatre.

1954
Tribune Forum Exchange Students

Tribune Forum Exchange Students

For many years, LREI participated in the Herald Tribune Forum, which brought students to the U.S. from all over the world for a period of twelve weeks. LREI hosted students from many countries, including Kimiko Fujii from Japan, and Wentworth..Read More

1955
W.E.B. Dubois Visits

W.E.B. Dubois Visits

Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, well-known scholar, philosopher and writer, spoke to the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades on February 14. His topic was freedom of opinion in the United States. In a short analysis of the fight for freedom of opinion..Read More

1955

Pearl Primus Visits LRSH

Pearl Primus, one of America’s greatest interpretive dancers and PhD candidate in Anthropology at Columbia University, performs at LRSH. “There is music everywhere,” she said. “Music is in the wind whistling by my ears. I hear it in the quiet..Read More

1957
Arthur Miller (P’62, ’65) Attends EI Performance of THE CRUCIBLE

Arthur Miller (P’62, ’65) Attends EI Performance of THE CRUCIBLE

EI parent Arthur Miller, author of The Crucible, attends an EI production of his play said the following about the performance:    

1957
We Need Our Park

We Need Our Park

LRSH students make an appeal to Mayor Robert F. Wagner, explaining why building a highway through Washington Square Park would be detrimental to the community.

1958

Jackie Robinson Visits EI on Behalf of NAACP

In 1958, Jackie Robinson, ambassador of the NAACP, came to LREI with Herbert Wright, Youth Leader of the NAACP, to accept a check from EI students, funds raised to support their efforts in the fight for racial justice and to..Read More

1958
Dwight Eisenhower congratulates LRSH on 25th Anniversary

Dwight Eisenhower congratulates LRSH on 25th Anniversary

Read The New York Times article from March 1, 1958 here.

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

1959
Lorraine Hansberry Visits Book Week

Lorraine Hansberry Visits Book Week

On November 5, 1959, Lorraine Hansberry visited students to talk about her writing, including the play A Raisin in the Sun, as part of Book Week. LREI prides itself on shrinking the distance between the schoolhouse and the “real world.”..Read More

1959
Village NAACP Organized

Village NAACP Organized

LREI Director Dr. Randolph Smith, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, and Reverend Howard Moody of Judson Memorial Church, among other prominent Village leaders, are consulted in the formation of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chapter of the NAACP.

1960
Pete Seeger Sings at EI Fundraiser

Pete Seeger Sings at EI Fundraiser

On February 11, 1960, Pete Seeger performed at the PAC to support the student drive for the American Friends Service Committee.

1961
Intercultural Committee Enrollment Drive

Intercultural Committee Enrollment Drive

Responding to the call of the Education and Intercultural Committees, forty parents and teachers volunteered to work for increased intercultural registration in both schools. Beginning with countless telephone calls, their efforts progressed to visits with community leaders and prospective parents...Read More

1962

School Drive for Migrant Children

Students watched one of the most celebrated documentaries of all time, 1960’s “Harvest of Shame,” in which Edward R. Murrow exposed the plight of America’s farm workers. Students collected $486.00 to pay the expenses of representatives traveling through migrant areas,..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.

1970
LREI’s First Affinity Group

LREI’s First Affinity Group

The Organization of Afro-American Students (OAAS) forms in 1970, becoming LREI’s first affinity group. The stated purposes of the OAAS were: To promote unity among the Black students in the school To promote awareness of the Black Revolution To promote..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

1985
Parent-Created Big Books

Parent-Created Big Books

Students read together from a parent-created big book in the 1980s. Whenever parents offer their time and talents to students, a message is embedded within. The message is: you are important, your education can be fun and exciting, we believe..Read More

1988

LREI Students Perform at Carnegie Hall with Peter, Paul and Mary (’55)

LREI students sing “Light One Candle” with Peter, Paul, and Mary at their holiday concert at Carnegie Hall in December 1988. Susan Glass led the chorus, then and now. Pay close attention at 1:08 to see Middle School Principal Ana..Read More

1988
LREI Intramural Basketball

LREI Intramural Basketball

LREI launches its all-inclusive intramural basketball program for fifth and sixth graders. Through participation on athletic teams students develop their physical skills and the ability to work together toward a common purpose; they also learn to represent the school within..Read More

1989
“Hand in Hand” Benefit Concert

“Hand in Hand” Benefit Concert

Hand in Hand: A benefit concert at NYU EIsner Lubin Hall for Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School featuring Peter, Paul, and Mary (’55), John Hammond, Eric Weissberg, The Robert DeCormier Singers, and other special guests.

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.

1994
New Rooftop Playground

New Rooftop Playground

Parents and faculty work together to construct new rooftop playground

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 Lesbian Gay Straight Alliance (LGSA)

LREI Lesbian Gay Straight Alliance (LGSA)

Lower School Principal Elaine Winter and parent Alice Krauss, along with other parents, found the LREI Lesbian Gay Straight Alliance (LGSA).

1997

Visibility/Love Makes a Family

Beginning in 1997, LREI hosted an annual traveling photography exhibition entitled “Love Makes A Family” — focused on the families gay and lesbian couples create. In 2010, the LREI community decided to curate its own exhibit, “Visibility: Our LGBTQ+ Community..Read More

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.

1998

First Founder’s Day Play

Every year, the LREI founder’s day play recounts how the parents of LREI met at an ice cream parlor and resolved to continue LREI as an independent school after the NYC Board of Education discontinued its funding as a public..Read More

2001
The Bravest Girl: Ruby Bridges

The Bravest Girl: Ruby Bridges

In 2001, Shoshana and Suzanne’s first grade class read a book about Ruby Bridges, a first grader and the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis on..Read More

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

2004
The Community Service Roundtable

The Community Service Roundtable

Community service at LREI has been a core aspect of the school’s values, mission, and program since the school’s inception in the 1920s.  Our school’s mission statement underscores the importance of cultivating an ethic of service among all our students..Read More

2011

LREI’s 90th Anniversary + Ideas Speaker Series Launch

LREI celebrated its 90th anniversary by launching the Ideas Speaker Series. The inaugural series included talks by author Siddhartha Mukherjee (P’29, ’23), activist Christy Turlington (P’22,’24), PBS education correspondent John Merrow, and author Steven Johnson.

2012

Adopt-a-Family Sandy Cleanup

On Friday, December 7, 2012, students took the ferry to Staten Island to help in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

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.

2015
One Teacher in Ten

One Teacher in Ten

LREI hosts a panel discussion on One Teacher in Ten in the New Millennium: LGBT Educators Speak Out About What’s Gotten Better . . . and What Hasn’t. The One Teacher in Ten series has served as an invaluable source..Read More

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

Gloria Steinem Visits Feminism Class

Gloria Steinem, feminist journalist and social political activist, visited Ileana Jiménez’ Feminism class.

2016

The Laramie Project + Moisés Kaufman Lecture

LREI’s production of The Laramie Project premiered during election week of November 2016 – a fractious and memorable moment in political history, when hate speech was again on the rise. The students who participated in the play hosted an audience talkback..Read More

2017
Parents at LREI

Parents at LREI

From LREI’s Instagram on October 6, 2017, in response to Hurricane Maria and the Puebla earthquake: LREI Community delivers relief ! Today, we sorted and separated enough product to fill a moving truck. Everything has been divided equally and is now..Read More

2017

Transgender and Non-Binary Inclusion Assembly

LREI’s first Transgender and Non-Binary Inclusion Assembly

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

2019
Earth Day Beach Cleanup

Earth Day Beach Cleanup

Sustainable LREI sponsors an annual beach cleanup at Rockaway Beach. In 2018, they collected over 200 lbs of trash.

2019
The Commons Project

The Commons Project

The Commons Project was initiated as a framework for approaching service learning, and civic and community engagement. The school  choose to interpret the idea of the “commons” broadly in examining our role as citizens of our school community and of the larger world as..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

2021
Angela Davis ’61 Speaks at Senior Banquet

Angela Davis ’61 Speaks at Senior Banquet

EI alumna Angela Davis ’61 spoke to the 2021 graduating class at their senior banquet via zoom.

2021

100 Acts of Service

In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of LREI, we are cataloging 100 Acts of Service. Click here to see the photos. Each of these opportunities will incorporate a service-learning component. The service-learning component frames and contextualizes the service opportunity through..Read More

2022
Romance and Adventure of the World

Romance and Adventure of the World

What better way to look ahead to the new year than seeing the first graders help the NYC Parks Department plant bulbs in the newly renovated Little Red Square? We’ve been told that these tulips, donated by the Washington Square..Read More

2022

Centennial Shindig

The May 2022 LREI Centennial Shindig will undoubtedly go down in the books as one of the school’s most memorable events. How wonderful it was to (finally!) gather all for an in-person celebration of 100 years of LREI. Thanks to..Read More

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