H.S. of Performing Arts

Sept. 1952, I entered the High School 

of Performing Arts as a Freshman in 

the Drama Dept. & I graduated in 

1956. In the 1960s, I tried to start a

Performing Arts Alumni Association 

but was too preoccupied with my 

career & increasing involvement in 

Actors’ Equity Association. 

(The Performing Arts Alumni Assn. 

was successfully established by Carol 

Nick Gordon, Class of ‘57 Music 

Dept. in the 1970s.)

In 1973, I was appointed by the N.Y.C. 

Board of Ed, to Chair the Drama Panel 

of the School of Performing Arts Ad-

visory Commission. It was not only an 

honor, but a joy to serve with 2 of my

schoolmates, Cora Cahan & Sanford

Allen as Chairs of the Dance & Music 

Panels respectively.

The Advisory Commission had been created when the school was founded in 1948. It's members, 

recognized as accomplished professionals in their respective disciplines, were charged with the

responsibility to  advise the administration in regard to certifying professional credentials of the 

Dance, Drama & Music faculties as well as professional standards of curriculum for the 3 studios. 

In 1977, while continuing as Drama Dept. panelist, the Board of Ed appointed me to also serve as 

Chairperson of the entire Commission. I served in this dual capacity until the end of the Commis-

sion's existence in the late 1980s. 

In the 1980s the Board announced it's intent to merge Performing Arts with the High School of 

Music & Art. The Advisory Commission was vehemently opposed to the merger &, as Commission 

Chair, I led our opposition which had 2 components: We fought the teachers union for the essential

need to continue our traditional faculty hiring practice for professionals in theatre, dance & 

music as distinguished from licensed teachers who had no professional performance credentials. 

Simultaneously, we also fought the Board on their entire merger proposal. The 2 schools had 

totally different educational objectives & the Commission feared that the unique goals & 

character of Performing Arts would be lost, obliterated by the much older & larger Music & Art. 

We also mounted a campaign to have our school building (on West 46th street) landmarked in 

recognition of the numerous alumna who, as actors, dancers & musicians, had made significant 

contributions to the arts. Opposition to the merger was unanimous within all the P.A. entities: 

in addition to the Advisory Commission, the Student Government, Academic & Studio Faculties, 

as well as both the Parents & Alumni Associations. Notwithstanding our unanimity, the schools 

were merged in 1984 & relocated in a new building adjacent to Lincoln Center. As we had feared, 

by 1988, the High School of Performing Arts with it's groundbreaking & distinctive mission as a 

professional training program for actors, dancers & musicians, within the N.Y.C. public 

school system, had ceased to exist.

Our building was, indeed, finally landmarked in 1998 & Dr. Majorie L. Dycke, Founding Chair 

of the Drama Department, quipped that it was "our great consolation prize."

As Chairperson of the Advisory 
Commission & a member of the
Commission's Drama Panel, I reg-
ularly auditioned applicants for   the Drama Dept. Freshman class. 

I frequently spoke at graduation. The founding Chair of the Drama Dept.,  & a very valued mentor,  Dr. Marjorie Dycke, is seated 2  seats to my right.

Created by Barbara Colton