After nearly three-quarters of a century as a beacon of education, Rice High School next month closes its doors at 124th St. and Lenox Ave. in Harlem for good. New York will be the poorer for it.
Never rich or big or well-connected, Rice concentrated on teaching boys that advantages mattered less than doing the most with what you did have. As a result, the scrappy Catholic school run by no-nonsense Christian Brothers fought way above its weight, educationally and morally.
Among more than 10,000 graduates, the best known are undoubtedly its athletes, who, over the years, made the school a force in several sports and a power in basketball. That despite a diminutive enrollment, never much more than 400, and this year down to 218.
The problem was expenses of $10,000 per student and an official tuition rate of $5,750, which almost no one actually paid. From the day it opened in 1938, Rice shied from turning a boy away because his family couldn’t pay. Basic arithmetic always made that a dubious business plan, but basic faith and commitment made it work.
Over the last decade, though, the school’s deficit ran into the millions. The cost of maintaining its aging building rose, and a tanking economy dried up once-generous donations, even as families found it harder to commit to any level of tuition and the student body shrank.
The little school on 124th St. did not go quietly. Every one of next month’s graduates has been accepted to college.
Rice will live on then only in the spirit of its graduates. One of them, Kemba Walker, led the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team to the NCAA championship this year. At the same time, this Bronx kid was finishing his degree in three years so that he could go to the NBA as a college graduate.
“A lot of us are successful now because of Rice,” Walker said when he heard the bad news. “It changed me.”
And so many others.
See the article from the Daily News.