Murry Bergtraum High School

Murry Bergtraum High School
Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers
Mbhs logo 95.jpeg
411 Pearl Street
New York City, New York, United States
Type Public High School
Motto Loco B in Res

Putting the B In Business

Established 1976 (35 years of operation as of 2011)
School board New York City Public Schools
School district 2 (Geographic and Administrative)
School number M520
Principal Andrea Lewis, Ph.D (I.A.)[1][2]
Faculty 400
Grades 912
Number of students 2,589
Color(s) Red      and yellow     
Athletics PSAL
Mascot Flash [3]
Nickname Bergtraum; MBHS; Murry B
Newspaper 'The Bergtraum Voice'
Yearbook 'The Montague'

The Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers is a public secondary school in New York City. It is located in Lower Manhattan, adjacent to the Brooklyn Bridge and City Hall. Bergtraum offers business-oriented courses to prepare students for careers in marketing, tourism, finance, human resources, information systems, economics, computer science, law, and secretarial fields. The school also combines its business curriculum with an academic program that gears towards preparation for college. In recent years, the school has been integrating more humanities and liberal arts courses to enrichen the school's cirriculum.[4]

Murry Bergtraum High School was one of the first business themed high schools in New York City, and inclusively, the United States. It has two sister schools that share its business theme: Norman Thomas High School (previously known as Central Commercial High School) and the High School of Economics and Finance. Out of the three schools, Murry Bergtraum is the largest of all the business high schools in this category and in the city due to its large, diverse business programs and course offerings.

Students in virtual enterprise classes have formed two companies in insurance and publishing. Other students get retail experience in a school store funded by Ronald Lauder, head of Estée Lauder. The goal of former Principal Grace Julian was to have every student have a mentor from a corporation such as Estée Lauder for at least part of their high school career. Students and alumni often refer to themselves as "Bergtraumites."

It remains as one of the few large high schools in New York City as a result of Michael Bloomberg's small-school restructuring projects.[5] It was also exempted from chancellor Joel Klein's citywide uniform curriculum initiated in 2003.


Historical Context

The History of Murry Bergtraum High School dates back to the Thanksgiving of 1916, the birthdate of Murry Bergtraum. Murry Bergtraum High School was established in 1975, in memory of Murry Bergtraum, a former President of the New York City Board of Education who passed away in 1974. Bergtraum joined the Board of Education on May 20, 1969. He was then elected Vice President of the Board of Education from July 1, 1970 to June 30, 1971. His widow Edith Katz Bergtraum, a public school teacher, was also politically active and a member of her local school board for 19 years. After her death in 1994, an elementary school in Queens (PS 165 in District 25) was renamed in her memory. The name "Bergtraum" originates from the German language. In the English language, it translates to "mountain dream."[6]

Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers was still under construction in 1975 while the first class of freshmen were attending classes at Pace University awaiting the completion of the new high school. While at the Pace campus, an art instructor held a school logo contest. Many designs were submitted by the students. Ultimately the winner chosen by the staff was a student named Norberto Feliciano. The winning school emblem is circular in design with a triangle in the center that represents the schools aerial view shape. The name of the school is within double circles, and the school initials placed within the triangle. Olive brances were placed within the logo as a sign of peace as also seen in the flag of the United Nations. The logo is used on letter heads, notebooks, t-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, team uniforms, and other school-branded items.

Bergtraum was the first academic comprehensive high school with business majors in New York City and one of the first in the United States. It was supported by the Downtown Lower Manhattan Association to prepare young people to enter the world of work and college.[7]


The Murry Bergtraum High School's western wing of the building, as seen from Pace University's Maria Tower.

Historically, there has been an average of over 3,000 students at Bergtraum during a given year, and it has been ranked as a "School of Excellence" by U.S. News & World Report since 1999.[8][9] It is well known for its girls' basketball team, having won thirteen consecutive PSAL championships as of 2011.[10] Bergtraum offers majors in business that attracts students from all boroughs; receiving an average of 15,000 to 20,000 applications every year, making it one of the most popular schools in the city of New York. As an educational option school, it takes in students from alln academic levels.[11]

The school population is structured as follows:

  • 16% of the school is formed of students who are high performers.
  • 68% of the school is formed of students who are average performers.
  • 16% of the school is formed of students who are low performers.

Bergtraum has also been known for its unusual triangular shape, which leads to only half of the school building having windows. The exterior sides of the building have windows, while the interior portion of the building does not. Despite the design of the building, it stays very warm in the winter and very cool during the summer because of its centralized air-conditioning system.

As of spring 2007, the school would follow a 1-8 schedule, eliminating the 3-10 and leaving very few students with a 2-9 schedule.

As of September 2009, the school began to decrease its enrollment numbers to alleviate the overcrowding rate the school faced. The school's enrollment has dropped significantly from September, 2005 in which it had roughly 3,000 students enrolled. As of July 2009, that number has gone down to 2,589.

The Bergtraum building bears the emblem of New York City, and the emblem of the City Education Department.


In its thirty-year history, Bergtraum has only had five principals, each of them female: Dr. Barbara Christen. Elsie Chan, Grace Julian, Barbara Esmilla who retired in June 2010 and Dr. Andrea D. Lewis.


Bergtraum has eight business majors, and also allows students to take Career and Technical Education examinations, such as the Microsoft Office Specialist examination.[12] In the accounting major, students who take the Advanced Accounting course can take an exam to obtain Certified Public Accountant qualifications.[13] Bergtraum requires its students have a minimum of 12 business credits upon graduation.

Murry Bergtraum provides its students with what is called "dual preparation". Working in close collaboration with colleges, businesses and industries, Bergtraum offers an academic program which is integrated with skills, knowledge and career preparation. Students at Bergtraum may also be eligible for state-approved and industry-sponsored career and technical education endorsements.

Murry Bergtraum's 2007 graduation was held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York, as it has been held in the past years. It featured key figures of the school administration and staff. In this photo taken on June 26, 2007, it includes: Row 1: (L to R) Faye Walsh, Retired Assistant Principal of Guidance, Barbara A. Esmilla, Principal, Caridad de la Luz, Ada Colon, Coordinator of Student Activities; Julia Taylor, Assistant Principal of Guidance; Bibiana Ammatuna, Assistant Principal of Foreign Languages; and Lilian Katz, College advisor; along with the leaders of the Senior Council and the Student Government. Row 2: (L to R) 7th from the left, Irene Gianacoplos, Coordinator of the Administrative Assistant Technology/Human Resources Management Program; Pat Campagna, Coordinator of the Computer Science department; Mark Melkonian, Assistant Principal of Business; Barbara Cortez, Assistant Principal of English; Jose Cruz, Assistant Principal of Social Studies, Anna Kravakis, Assistant Principal of Science, and Jared Vitolo, Assistant Principal of Mathematics.

School Facilities

Murry Bergtraum's facilities include:

A. Three Gymnasiums. Two are on the same floor, but offer different electives. This two-in-one gym was constructed to accommodate freshmen and sophomores. The third gym, for juniors, is located on the sixth floor, and focuses on cardiovascular exercise and dance.[14]

B. Two functioning laboratories for science. All biology, chemistry, physics, and marine biology laboratories are done in these two rooms.

C. A library. The Bergtraum library hosts internet service, as well as books, references, and career resources.

D. Computer laboratories. These rooms were once typewriting rooms; the old outlets on the floor mark the school's history.

Student body

Murry Bergtraum has 2,589 students and a diverse student body. Historically, Bergtraum's programs have catered to minority students, and the trend has not changed much since the school's opening.[15] The ethnic composition is as follows:[16]

Bergtraum has had more females than males in previous years. As of the 2009-2010 school year, 50.83% of Bergtraum students are female and 49.17% of Bergtraum students are male.

The building hosts students with special needs such as mental or physical disabilities, or hearing impairment. Students who use a wheelchair can sometimes be seen throughout the building.

The school is only one out of two in Lower Manhattan that also gives admittance to English as a Second Language (ESL) students. Out of the 3,000-plus students, 11.97% are ESL students.


Bergtraum has more business courses with more majors than all of the Manhattan Business-themed high schools combined. Bergtraum and Norman Thomas High School are the only schools in Manhattan that allow students to concentrate with one major. Students not only choose the business area they wish to concentrate on, but students also face academic rigor in their regular New York State mandated education requirements. Students are allowed to have the standard 65 passing grade, but are encouraged to have an 80+ average. In an interview in Bergtraum's newspaper, The Bergtraum Voice, Claire Panazzolo, an Ex-Assistant Principal of Business, stated that she "wanted Bergtraum to be the Stuyvesant of business".

The graduating class of 2006 was accepted to 85 different colleges and universities across the country, including schools of Ivy League caliber. Popular colleges and universities include: University at Albany, Binghamton University, Hunter College, Baruch College, Stony Brook University, Syracuse University and the University of Hartford.

Business Programs

Bergtraum students acquire the skills to work in a business-like atmosphere. Bergtraum is divided into 8 houses, each house representing a specific major. Students in each house, or department, study in their major for their 4 years in high school. In addition, each student must obtain a minimum of 44-50 credits in order to graduate, regardless of house. In each department, all students are mandated to take a keyboarding/business career exploration course for one year, or two semesters/terms.


Majors at Bergtraum were once known and categorized by "Houses". However, as the school began its year of reformation, these houses were renamed to "Academies" as of September 2006. Students of the Graduating Class of 2009 will be the last graduating class to be known and categorized by individual "Houses". These new academies would have directors that would oversee the academic and social activity of students.

Economics and Finance

At Bergtraum, students in this major are known as "Academy E" Students.

In the Finance major, students are introduced to accounting, business introduction, business analysis, law and computer applications, college level accounting, taxation, and financial investments.

The director of the Institute of Economics and Finance is currently Jared Vitolo.


At Bergtraum, students in this major are known as "Academy A" Students.

In the Accounting major, students learn basic to complex accounting. This program mocks the previous stenography major that taught all types of stenography such as Gregg Stenography, Alpha Stenography, etc.

The director of the Accounting Academy is currently Barbara Cortez.

Human Resources Management

At Bergtraum, students in this major are known as "Academy H" Students.

In the Administrative Assistant Technology major, students are introduced to Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certifications in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Access programs, notetaking (Shorthand), business English, internet, business analysis, and business protocols.

The director of the Academy of Human Resources Management is currently Renato da Silva.

Information Systems

At Bergtraum, students in this major are known as "Academy F" Students.

In the Information Systems major, students are introduced to MOS certifications in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Access programs, integrated computer applications, and desktop publishing.

The director of the Information Systems Academy is currently Anita Bonner.

Global Marketing Travel, Tourism and Hospitality

At Bergtraum, students in this major are known as "Academy W" Students.

In the Travel and Tourism major, students are introduced to geography, computer systems, job shadowing, paid summer internships, and participate in the virtual enterprise program. This course is tied with the previous "L House" in order to make room for "Academy G"

As of September 2010, the director of this academy is Ms. Ammatuna.

Computer Science

At Bergtraum, students in this major are known as "Academy C" Students.

In the Computer Science major, students are introduced to QBasic, C++, HTML, Javascript, web page design, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access, desktop publishing, computer graphics.

The director of the Computer Science Institute is currently Anna Kavrakis.

Legal Studies

At Bergtraum, students in this major are known as "Academy L" Students.

In the Legal Studies major, students are introduced to business law, trial procedures, general law, basic law of contracts, real estate law, urban planning, constitutional law, and participate in courthouse visits.

The director of the Legal Studies Academy is currently Renato Da Silva.

Marketing, Introduction to Business

At Bergtraum, students in this major are known as "Academy M" Students.

In the Marketing major, students are introduced to the principles of marketing and advertising, retailing, insurance, business law, business computer operations, sports marketing, and participate in the Estée Lauder retail academy. This major is tied along with the previous L and M houses. Both houses now contain the same conjunct courses.

The director of the Marketing Academy is currently Mark Malkonian.

Communications/Instructional Support/Special Education

At Bergtraum, students in this major are known as "I, O, or Z Academy" Students.

Students in this house must follow procedures according to their respective major, however their classes are taught differently from regular education students.

The director of these departments currently is Tessa Austin

Since the attacks of September 11th 2001, Murry Bergtraum High School has been barricaded by Police Plaza.

Graduation requirements

Murry Bergtraum High School students face the same requirements as all students in New York City do. A minimum of 50-54 credits is required to graduate from Bergtraum, however, most of the students graduate with as many as 60 credits. Students are required to study [17][18][19]:

  • 4 years of English, and take the English Language Regents examination at the end of their Junior year.
  • 4 years of historical studies, including Global History and American History. Regents exams are taken when the student finishes each course.
  • 3 years of a foreign language. Languages offered include Chinese(Level 3 and 4 only), French, and Spanish.
  • 3 years of science. Regents courses are available for Living Environment Biology, Earth Science, Chemistry, and Physics. Marine Biology is available as an optional course, however no Regents exam is offered. Students must complete at least 2 Regents exams if offered Marine Biology in their freshman year. (In order to qualify for a Regents exam, students must complete 30 hours of laboratory instruction.)
  • 4 years of business study. Passing all business courses is mandated in order to graduate with the Bergtraum seal. Specific business courses will depend on the department the student is in.
  • Half a year of Musical Instruction/Appreciation.
  • Half a year of Art Instruction/Appreciation.
  • Half a year of an Internship based class. Internship classes are held in the school.
  • Work-Based Business Credit. Students who work a specific amount of hours each Semester qualify to receive an elective business credit.

September 11, 2001

Murry Bergtraum High School, along with other high schools of the Lower Manhattan area were the first schools evacuated when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Although Bergtraum is located in the Lower East Side section of Manhattan, the school administration ordered an immediate evacuation of the building. The building was evacuated in three minutes. It was the first high school in New York City that had successful evacuation of students.

The school was labeled as a "Ground Zero" school (by the NYFD)--students were relocated to the High School of Art and Design in Upper Manhattan. The Bergtraum administration were unhappy with the relocation and appealed it, and their building was re-opened and students resumed their studies within a few days.


The Uniform Code was debated for five consecutive years, in the 2006-2007 school year--white polo shirts were introduced to Bergtraum students. Students were given these Polo shirts (starting with an alpha order of white), with an ongoing order of approximately 20,000 shirts in 27 different colors, students bought shirts like these at Murry's Place, Bergtraum's school store. Student Government operatives wore these uniforms on September 27, 2006 in order to show students what the new dress code would be.

Bergtraum began to face new ideas of reform during the Spring Term of the 2005-2006 academic school year. Due to certain measures to improve not only performance, but also student morale, new measures and new plans began to be introduced by the Principal, and the School Leadership Team. Certain reforms include:

A. The attempt to restore the Bergtraum building after 31 years of establishment.

B. A sharp decrease in the amount of students admitted into the school. Incoming freshmen classes averaged to about 900 to 1000 students. As of August 2007, that number is down to approximately 800. The school currently faces a 131% overcrowding rate—that is, there are 36% more students than the building was designed to accommodate.

C. The introduction of a new dress code to bring a more professional environment to the school. Students now follow a mandatory "dress for success" every Wednesday. The school uniform policy has been discontinued.

Courses and Programs

Bergtraum offers many courses to its students, including:

Advanced Placement Courses

Advanced Placement courses, which are eligible for college credit, include Calculus AB, English Language and English Literature, Environmental Science, Accounting, United States History, and World History.

Non-Advanced Placement Elective Courses

Bergtraum has many elective courses for students to take that tend to be more advanced in their curriculum and more rigorous in their nature:

Alma mater

The school has its own song that is, by tradition, sung at the commencement exercises every June. The song was composed by retired music teacher, J.A. Negri. Negri retired in 2007 after many years of working as a music teacher at the school.[21]


Bergtraum has many sponsors, especially in the corporate field, including:[22]

Extracurricular Activities

Bergtraum has many activities for students to participate in. Such activities include the Student Government/Union, Senior Council, Council For Unity, internships on and off site, and more. Academic teams and groups include Math Team, Mock Trial, Moot Court and the National Honor Society. Other clubs include: The Black Student Union, Salsa Club, Chinese Christian Society, Christian Society, Ambassadors Club, Model UN, Chinese Talent Society, West Indian Club, The Political Action Committee and the Asian Club.

PSAL Sports Teams

The school participates in the Public Schools Athletic League. The Bergtraum Lady Blazers are the second best girls' basketball team in the entire country, and the reigning thirteen-time city champion. Bergtraum also has other sports teams, including basketball, bowling, cross country, handball, tennis, indoor and outdoor track, volleyball, softball, baseball, and soccer.

Awards and recognition

Besides being ranked "A School Of Excellence" by U.S. News & World Report, Bergtraum has won countless awards in the sports area, The Kurt Thomas Investment Challenge, the ThinkQuest Awards, and the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

ThinkQuest NYC Award winning teams, led by Ms. D'Amato, Ms Ashley & Tony Cai:

Popular culture

Dress for Success

Dress for Success days are a long-time tradition started in business high schools. This provides the opportunity for students, including those of Bergtraum; to dress in business attire. The original philosophy was to have students dress appropriately for school, but over the span of 31 years, business collaboratives expressed interest in hiring students fresh out of high school. Meaning that "Dress for Success" at Bergtraum was also created to prepare students for the demands of the workforce, and in turn, students are approached and offered internships with business collaboratives or with alumni who run their own businesses.

As of August 2007, the Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers has made dressing for success a mandatory event.

Notable alumni

  • Vanessa Gibson, New York State Assemblywoman
  • John Leguizamo
  • Jonathan Davis, better known as Q-Tip
  • Caridad de la Luz
  • Damian "JD" Redman, morning show host at WAJZ in Albany, New York
  • Damon Wayans
  • Miguel Morales1st season of Top Chef
  • Epiphanny Prince, a Bergtraum women's basketball player, holds the national record for scoring in a game (113 points), and is an integral part of Rutgers University women's basketball team. Current WNBA Chicago Sky Player
  • Atalya Slater, was on America's Next Top Model Cycle 10.
  • Shannon Bobbitt, Bergtraum women's basketball player, 2005 JUCO player of the year, won back-to-back national championships as starting point guard for the Tennessee Lady Vols, was drafted 15th by the Los Angeles Sparks in 2008 draft and is currently playing for Los Angeles.
  • Jimmy Cozier, American R&B singer.

Notable faculty

  • Noreen Begley was the first woman in 1992 to coach boys basketball when she coached the Blazers to the finals in what was known during as the "B division."
  • Ed Berg, former faculty member, was the chairman of Social Science department and best remembered for having taught Advanced Placement Economics competitively by expunging the students midyear who were performing on the lower half of the class curve.
  • Carolyn Powell, Ph.D, known to some as the successor of Ed Berg. Powell was nominated and entrusted with the position of college advisor in June, 2009.
  • Irene Gianacoplos is the last coordinator and one of the few shorthand supporters/instructors in the Public Education system.
  • Alex McDonald, an English teacher, is a musician. Known as Paranoid Larry, he has his own record label.[23][24]

Related links

Department links

Coordinates: 40°42′40″N 74°00′05″W / 40.711111°N 74.001389°W / 40.711111; -74.001389


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