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commUNITY spotlight: Remembering Crystal Boling-Barton, longtime McKinley High principal

BPS and the Boling-Barton family held a celebration at McKinley High. As a lasting tribute, the auditorium was dedicated in her honor and a ribbon was cut.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A special dedication for an educator who touched many lives in Buffalo took place in the high school where she served as principal for many years.

Longtime McKinley High School principal Crystal Boling-Barton passed away in June. She was 70.

The Buffalo Public School district and her family held a celebration at the school on Elmwood Avenue. As a lasting tribute, the school auditorium was dedicated in her honor and a ribbon was cut.

Boling-Barton was a no-nonsense principal, and a union leader who didn't back down from wanting the best for her students. 

"She didn't hold your hand. She didn't give you a tutoring type of process. You had to watch and learn, and ask if you didn't know," Jody Covington, principal of The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts said.

Covington once worked under Barton at McKinley.

Added Patricia Preston, a retired principal who worked as an assistant principal at McKinley many years ago: "She was one of the few people I could cry with, and then she would say, 'OK, you got to get up and keep moving forward.' That was Crystal. You might fall down, but you get up, and you keep moving forward."

Two of Barton's children talked about their mother as an educator and a woman who wanted the best for others.

Honri Hunt recalls attending McKinley High School, where his mom was the principal.

"The first day of school we came out (of the house), I thought I was getting a ride to school with her," Hunt said. "But she rolled the windows down and said, 'Excuse me, where do you think you're going?' I said, 'I'm going to school.' She said, 'No, you're going to take the bus, just like every other student."

She gave him bus tokens and told him "I am Ms. Boling until 3 o'clock."

Misty Hunt-Garrett said, "culture is very important to my mother, she never lost sight of who she was and what she represented. She was a big collector. She collected many things, and the African-American items were a big part of her collection, so what we are going to do with her collection is we are going take it ... place them in a museum, we're seeking somewhere to put them in."

Added Naomi Cerre: "Crystal Boling-Barton, you are a living legacy. We are standing on your shoulders."

Credit: Family of Crystal Boling Barton


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