The roof of the school is a mystery to many people. Looking up towards it, it isn’t clear what is there. Some of the younger grades say that there is a pool, while most say there is nothing there at all. One student, Kayla Powers ’20, believes that, “there is this greenhouse and this house thing and someone lives there.” Another one, Grace Lim ’22, said that when students “look up, they see something weird.” It’s seems absurd that there would be anything on the roof to begin with, that it serves a purpose besides making sure that the rain and wind don’t get in. While there is no greenhouse or pool, there is, in fact, a man who lives on the roof.
The roof hosts a cozy apartment loft, complete with a kitchen, a living room, and a bedroom. According to Ms. Johnson, the man who lives there is the landlord of the school building. BSGE was originally his pocketbook factory, and a little more than a decade ago, he rented out the building to the DOE, who then converted it into a school. In the past he has even given the school some pocketbooks to sell at auctions.
The landlord’s name is Sharif and is originally from Egypt. According to one of his friends, who wished to remain anonymous, “He immigrated to the U.S. around 10-30 years ago and he’s a very successful businessman.” From his home on the roof, he runs his company, Sharif Designs Ltd, and manages other properties that he owns. No one ever sees him walking up the stairs to the 4th floor because he has his own means of reaching the roof. On the side of the building, between the school and the law and justice building, is a small alleyway. Once someone passes the gate, there is a security desk, from which an elevator can be reached that leads to the roof. Further, there are stairs that lead there, which can be seen outside the windows of Ms. Nikklos’ classroom.
It’s a strange thing to think that while students at BSGE are working and studying, there is someone above us, living out their lives in an apartment. Sylvia Boguniecki ’20 said, “If we’re in a school why is someone living on top of us?” Another student, Joshua Wu ’20, had an eccentric view on the topic and said, “it made sense,” and that he “wants to meet the guy.” While to some students it was a surprise that someone lived on the roof, others were more open to the idea, and already knew about it. Danielle Gutkovich ’17, for instance, was “not surprised that someone lives there.”
When thinking about the roof, perspective matters most. While it may look like a greenhouse to some, there is an apartment where someone lives. Clearly, then, the real roof of the building lies above the apartment, and not the fourth floor of BSGE.