Words cannot properly convey how deeply Mrs. McVay was connected to the soul of our school. Mrs. McVay was a teacher assistant in the Buffalo Public Schools for over 40 years, retiring in 2006. She spent the vast majority of her career at City Honors where she provided firm but loving supervision to generations of young Centaurs. Mrs. McVay was a woman of character who actively, and without apology, developed students to become adults of character.
Forty years ago, Mrs. McVay established the ‘Keeping the Dream Alive’ Assembly which continues to this day as the most important event of the year at City Honors. Mrs. McVay established this event with the assumption that Dr. King’s work was not complete and that it would need to be vigorously introduced and fostered among young people as time passed after his assassination.
In addition to her supervision duties, Mrs. McVay established the CHS African Dance and Drum Troupe which is known regionally for its excellence, managed the mail/copy room, advised the modeling club, organized Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month at CHS and tended to a forest of plants on the windowsills that circle the first floor of the school building.
Mrs. McVay’s work for social justice and against racism went back to her teenage years. In 1951, Mrs. McVay was a junior at Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia. As treasurer of her student government, she was the co-leader of a daring boycott of 450 students against segregation in the county’s school system. Despite threats and intimidation, the success of this protest drew the NAACP lawyers to Farmville and set in motion events which led to the Brown v. Board of Education court ruling three years later.
Mrs. McVay was not forgotten in the years after she retired. The students of the school renamed the school cafeteria “The McVay Café” and Mrs. McVay would return to the school several times a year, never missing the Keeping the Dream Alive Assembly, even while battling illness.
Rest in peace Mrs. McVay. Your spirit is forever a part of our school. We love you.
Our school community has established the Irene T. McVay Legacy Fund to carry on her good work. Read more and make a gift to the fund here.