You can pass him in the hall once, meet him twice and still not know what machinist Kerneth Levigion, known as Kern, does.
Sophomore Casey Griffin remembers the first time she met Levigion. “I was at SING! and Lenny [Frankel (‘07)] and I were trying to tape all of the food from the concessions on the wall so the people could see everything,” Griffin said. “But cans of soda don’t really tape well. […] When I got back to the concessions the next night, Kern had built us a shelf. So that was really sweet and very ‘Kern’ of him.”
Some may not know exactly what Levigion’s job description is. Levigion repairs furniture, configures the security system, works with the Stuyvesant Theater Community (STC), provides the fog machine during SING! and can fix nearly everything.
“His job description is really whatever we need him to do,” Teitel said. “He does all kinds of things.”
According to Levigion, a machinist is “supposed to repair and maintain shop equipment,” he said. But what he does in a single day stretches far beyond that.
“He’s our jack-of-all trades,” technology services secretary Angela Figliolo said, who radios him on a daily basis. “He knows everything mechanical, amongst other things. All of the teachers and I are always calling him.”
His parents certainly named him appropriately—coincidentally, for someone who will come at one’s behest. “Kerneth is Celtic and means ‘foot soldier,’” said Levigion, who was born and raised in New Jersey. In high school, he was interested in electronics and participated in track and field, not committing himself to any one field of work—just as his title requires of him today. “My high school experience was pretty boring compared to this place,” he said. He moved on to restore antique cars.
Levigion started out as an inventory consultant at Stuyvesant in 1992, the same year the school moved into its new building. The job was supposed to be temporary. But then-Assistant Principal Murray Kahn decided to hire him as the school’s audiovisual technician in light of Levigion’s knowledge of the building and of mechanics.
“I like being able to take things apart, see how they work and then being able to fix them,” Levigion said. “Also, riding dollies [wheeled platforms used to move heavy objects] down the hallways isn’t bad either.”
Levigion deals with a variety of mishaps and problems, ranging from fixing the photocopier in the nurse’s office to repairing the public address system. Since so many people in the school community rely on him for a variety of things, Levigion does not have the luxury of doing things on his own time.
“I’m usually pressed for time when I’m working on things. The way I deal with this is priority, what’s most important at the time,” Levigion said. “When I was in the middle of working on the tract lighting when the voicemail computer crashed, and I had to drop everything in order to work on that.”
Even if he has to deal with the pressures of a demanding job, Levigion is passionate about his work. According to Levigion, his favorite part of the job is “the versatility,” he said. “You’re never sure for one day to the next what you’re going to do. That I enjoy more that anything else.”
Despite his mysterious reputation, students involved in Stuyvesant theater have come to know him well. “Kern is often misunderstood,” junior and STC lighting director Danielle Blackman said. “People think he’s mean. But because he’s responsible for the equipment and things he needs to be careful. Also, he’s one of the faculty members that interacts a lot with students, and he’s able to be closer to you than a teacher.”
Stuyvesant—as a building and a school—could not function without Levigion’s helping hand. “I don’t know how the school would survive without him,” Figliolo said.