Larry Cary, a Westfield resident, was recently elected president of the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation, the nation’s premier alumni fundraising group for a public high school. The Foundation expects to soon complete its goal of raising $21 million to support academic excellence at Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. A previous goal of $10 million was met in 2005. The Foundation has a $10 million endowment used to improve technology in the class room, build new laboratories, fund special research projects and foster teacher professional development.
With 5,400 students, Tech is the nation’s largest specialized high school for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students are admitted solely on the basis of a competitive examination covering verbal and math skills. In their final two years of study, students apply for a major from 16 options including aerospace engineering, architectural engineering, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering electrical engineering, environmental engineering, industrial design, mechanical engineering and software engineering. Students may also major in an enriched college preparatory program, mathematics, biological sciences, social science research, media communications or law and society. Tech also has a four-year Gateway to Medicine Program.
Tech offers 27 advanced placement courses carrying college credit but Tech’s coursework is often more advanced. For example Law majors take AP U.S. History, AP U.S. Government and Politics as well as Constitutional Law in their junior year. In their senior year they take coursework in Criminal Procedure and Law, Forensic Criminology, Civil Law and Legal Ethics. Tech was ranked 63rd in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s 2009 “Best High Schools” list.
Tech alumni are well-known leaders in the business community and the scientific, engineering, medical, and legal professions as well as in education. Tech alumni include two Nobel Laureates, including the scientist who discovered the cosmic microwave background radiation - the radio remnant of the Big Bang - and the inventor of the digital camera, a key developer of the Global Positioning System as well as the engineer who led the NASA team developing the Lunar Roving Vehicle used by the astronauts to drive around on the moon.
While Tech has sometimes erroneously been called an “elite” high school in the news media, according to Cary this is a misnomer because “the average Tech student is a working class kid.” He says “65 percent of the students qualify for free or subsidized lunch under federal poverty guidelines and almost all of the kids are first or second generation immigrants or members of different minority groups.”
“Tech continues to provide New York City’s working and middle class students with a fantastic free education preparing them to gain admission to the nation’s best universities. Many of our grads go on to make phenomenal contributions to our society,” said Cary. Tech’s most recent graduating class qualified for $137 million in college scholarship and financial aid.
While much has been accomplished by past graduates, Cary believes that Tech‘s future alumni will do even more to better society. Cary says, “The kids today are much smarter than when I went to Tech.” Cary graduated in 1970 when the school only admitted boys. Tech began admitting girls the following year and today they number about half of the student body. “When I took the test it was easier to get in - I didn’t have to compete against the girls - half of the population,” said Cary. “Today, less than 9 percent of the kids wanting to get into Tech are offered admission,” according to Cary.
“Brooklyn Tech is fortunate to have great alumni who want to give back to their high school because it was a transformative experience where they learned how to think, solve problems, succeed in their chosen careers and make a positive contribution to society,” says Cary. New Jersey has about 3,500 Brooklyn Tech alumni. They are encouraged to visit the Foundation’s website, www.bthsalumni.org, to learn more about the Foundation and make a donation.