Brooklyn school's many famous alumni

- There must've been something in the water at James Madison High School. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Judge Judy, singer Carole King and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg are all alumni of the Brooklyn public school.

"I hope there's something in the water because that means that our current students are also going to be our future celebrities," said Jodie Cohen, the school's principal and also an alum. "Each day when they walk in this building and they see our wall of distinction and they see these names and these faces of individuals who sat in the very same classrooms that they're sitting in. And that they've made it somewhere."

Each unassuming yearbook picture provides a window to the past. And perhaps some hints at their future.

Carole King -- she was Carole Klein back then: a pianist, mixed chorus, and drama.

For young Charles Schumer, a member of the budget committee and the math team. I asked him about it.

"No. I was not interested in politics. I'd go back to Madison and play basketball every night. They had the Madison Knight Center and after we were finished doing whatever we were doing during the day you could play basketball all night till 10 o'clock. And I loved that," Schumer said. "What I learned at Madison High School was how to get along with many different kinds of people. How to get things done. Street smarts. And that has served me well."

For senior Ruth Bader -- a member of Arista, the national honors society -- and treasurer of the Go-Getters. But when we reached out to now Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she had some different memories of her time at Madison.

"Highlights for me were playing (cello) in the school orchestra, an English teacher who introduced us to T.S. Eliot, going with my classmates to Ebbets Field on Dodgers Day to cheer for Jackie Robinson," she told us.

For young Bernard Sanders, captain of the track and cross country teams and class president.

And for Judith Blum - you know her as TV's Judge Judy Sheindlin, she says it wasn't any secret formula. "There was nothing in the water," she said. "It was just dedicated teachers, students that wanted to learn and parents who blamed their kids and not the school for an F."

And for today's high schoolers, some now studying law in Madison's Ruth Bader Ginsburg mock courtroom, Principal Cohen said the famous alumni give them inspiration to do big things.

"We even have students currently saying well I'm going to be the next person to run for president. And I tell them 'I hope so,'" Cohen said. "I said, 'Continue to make us proud.'"
 

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