Alum, former Gov. Paterson to head Hempstead homecoming

Former New York State Gov. David A. Paterson

Former New York State Gov. David A. Paterson is slated to serve as Grand Marshal during Hempstead High School's annual homecoming. (Credit: Getty Images)

Former New York State Gov. David A. Paterson is slated to serve tomorrow as Grand Marshal during Hempstead High School's annual homecoming.

Paterson, a former Hempstead School District student and the state's first African-American governor, is scheduled to kick off a day of festivities starting at 10:30 a.m.

Paterson is expected to march in the parade that is set to begin on the steps of Hempstead Town Hall, at Washington and Front streets, and end at the high school at President Street and Peninsula Boulevard.

The parade is to be followed by a pre-game performance on the field, where Paterson is expected to address the crowd. The football game against the Freeport Red Devils is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.

"Aside from being a distinguished alumnus, his political success and ability to overcome hardship makes him an inspiration for all of our students," School Board President Betty J. Cross said in a statement.

In June, the district renamed Fulton Elementary the David Paterson Elementary School. The school is the first in the state named after Paterson.

Paterson was born in Brooklyn but lived in Hempstead from 1958 to 1983. Paterson, the son of influential Harlem political leader Basil Paterson, was among the first black students to attend the Hempstead schools after the district was integrated in the early 1960s. Paterson graduated from Fulton in 1968 and Hempstead High in 1971. He earned an undergraduate degree from Columbia University and a law degree from Hofstra University.

Paterson, a Democrat, was elected in 1985 to represent Harlem in the state Senate and became minority leader before being elected lieutenant governor in 2006. He took over as chief executive in 2008 after Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a sex scandal. Paterson decided against running for a full term in 2010.

His 30-month governorship included an acknowledgment of extramarital affairs, ethics probes and scandals that took down some of his top officials. Despite low approval ratings, Paterson imposed budget cuts, increased oversight for New York's authorities and created a new pension tier for incoming state workers.

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