Stuy Legacies

Stuyvesant legacies were influenced to attend Stuyvesant by their relatives and intend to do the same with their descendents.

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Stuyvesant has always been a school of high merit. It demands a higher level of student, the type that can't be satisfied by a less rigorous method of learning. Applying to Stuyvesant and making a bid to get in requires a student of high ambition. Sometimes, however, a pupil has the ability to succeed at a phenomenal level yet lacks the drive to nurture it. What will save these secretly gifted individuals from a life of wasted potential? Sometimes, it's the support of a family member.

For some current Stuyvesant students, they are their family’s second or even third generation of Stuyvesant attendees. These students, called legacies, have parents or grandparents who have enrolled at the school before them. They have a history here, and for some, big shoes to fill in their four years.

Contrary to most students’ experiences, some legacies weren’t forced by their guardians to get into Stuyvesant. Instead, their relatives encouraged less stressful circumstances around which high school they should go to. Senior Jenna Foo said, “My dad went to Stuy so he thought it would be nice if I could follow in his footsteps, but I was never pressured into getting into Stuy.” Emma Buller, a freshman, echoed a similar thought, saying, “My parents didn’t want me to have a particular bias about what high school to go to. My mom would talk about [Stuyvesant], but there was no underlying message of ‘you have to go.’”

Why might past Stuyvesant attendees not encourage their heirs to get in, knowing the school's merits well? Though Stuyvesant is at the highest tier of education for a New York City high school student, it comes at the price of a heavy workload and intensely difficult learning curve. It's hard to know whether Stuyvesant will be a good fit for someone. This is illustrated by Jacob Ng, who has multiple family members who have graduated from the school. His brothers told him, “Stuy[vesant] was an experience.”

The concept of being forced into making it into Stuyvesant does hold true at times, however. If a family member has attended Stuyvesant and knows firsthand what a great school it is, he or she is more likely to ignore what the child wants and make sure the child gets into Stuyvesant. “I just knew that if I didn't make it, I'd hear a lot from my brothers. To me, Stuy was like a tradition I was being forced into,” Ng recalled.

There is also the added pressure that is given to the students by themselves, who create high expectations because a family member attended Stuyvesant. “I pressure myself to do well [in] anything that I do, so I naturally did the same thing with high school applications. I thought that if I didn’t get into a good school like Stuy, I would fail at life,” Buller said.

For Stuyvesant legacies, an important part of being part of a legacy is learning to make their own name for themselves. When there is a long line of students behind them, it is hard to go to school for themselves. Instead, there is a certain stigma associated with not being able to follow past footprints. “All I knew coming into Stuy was, ‘You have to go because it’s the best, and if you don’t go, you’ll be the only one in the family to not go,’” Ng said. However, as daunting as following the line may be, family does not dictate the school experience. Foo agreed and said, “ I think my main [piece] of advice would be to do things for yourself and not for others.”

Regardless of whether or not a student’s relatives forced the student into attending Stuyvesant, they played a part in their induction into the Stuyvesant community, and for the most part, the students found this to be a rewarding decision. “Without Stuy, I don't think I would have matured as much as an individual and learned as much as I have about myself,” Foo said. “The friends you make and the teachers you meet [...] are all one of a kind. [Though] I don't think Stuy is the school for everyone, it's definitely rewarding if you're not afraid of working hard and meeting both ups and downs in the process.”

The chain of Stuyvesant legacies has yet to come to an end, and it would seem that there are future generations to come. There will always be students who, encouraged by their parents or otherwise, attended the institution, had good experiences, and eventually encouraged their children to try out for the school. To her descendents, Buller advised, “I’d tell them, ‘It’s going to be a huge upgrade from your middle school, so embrace it.’”