By Juan Soto
They moved out of Laurelton back in the 1970s, leaving their beloved neighborhood physically behind.
But they kept an emotional attachment to the community they grew up in.
And this past week, a group of men and women came back to the streets and the school they all met at and shared their experiences with the student body, ages 4 to 14.
They had entered their pre-K class in 1964.
A total of 16 alumni from PS 156 who graduated from fifth grade in 1970 went back to their former classrooms and met with current students from pre-K to eighth-grade classes.
“All the families moved out,” said Gerald Antell, a real estate investor who left Laurelton more than 40 years ago.
Some stayed in the city, but others started new lives in places like Ohio, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami.
“After Laurelton, we scattered all over the country,” he said.
“The place was becoming dangerous and we all basically moved out,” said the alumnus. “But we were and still are connected to the neighborhood.”
During the visit, Antell, who now lives in Scarsdale, N.Y., and his former classmates met with the school’s principal, talked with students and had lunch in the school’s library.
“The school was excellent. It’s a beautiful place,” he said. “They even gave us lunch.”
Antell said the principal was “stunned” when she heard about the visit. “She was very thrilled and surprised.”
In pairs of two, the alumni met with students from all the grades taught at the educational facility.
They shared their experiences with the kids who now sit where they did once. The group also spoke with the students about their careers, their current positions and their chosen or not chosen lines of work.
Among other professions, the group included an architect, a nurse, doctors, teachers and accountants.
“The students were happy to see us there,” said Antell. “Some of them asked us how was the school when were the students. They were very curious.”
Antell said they showed the kids several photos when they were the students.
“They all seemed interested in us,” said Antell.
The group also gathered at the school five years ago for a similar experience.
They kept in touch before the era of Internet, and some found love and married.
“We left school at the time when the boys were chasing after the girls, and some ended up married,” the alumnus said.
Now the Internet has provided the tools to organize these kinds of events.
“We kept in touch before — now it’s just much easier,” said Antell.
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.