2014-03-21 / Milestones

PS 114 Students Speak Out For Rockaway

The survey entitled, “Speak Out for The Rockaways,” conducted by the 5th grade writing students of PS/MS 114 is providing great insight and solutions into the issues that face Rockaway. Our future is bright, if students like these become the leaders of tomorrow.

In this second installment of our survey, we focused on an issue that is near and dear to the heart of every family—education. The children posed the following questions to their parents, relatives and neighbors: How can we improve educational opportunities in the Rockaways? What services could be provided to tap the creative talents of your children? Their perceptive and practical suggestions follow.

- Joan Diehl, Creative Writing Teacher, PS/MS 114

Rockaway is one of the most amazing places and I’m very lucky to live here. However, even before Hurricane Sandy struck, improvements were necessary. Education is a very important issue to our family, and could be improved in our neighborhood. My mom feels we have been getting a fine education at PS/MS 114, in a nurturing environment, but she feels bad about the pressure many feel to send their children to other middle schools. She wants PS/MS 114 to reclaim its reputation as one of the best schools, so that students should not feel the pressure or the desire to leave and go to a different middle school. She also worries about the high school situation. Mom feels that a coed Catholic high school would be a welcome addition to our neighborhood so that students wouldn’t have to travel so far for a Catholic high school. She wishes someone would take over the abandoned Neponsit Healthcare Center, closed since 1998, and build a good high school.

- Emily Redpath

Gateway National Parks offer educational classes about the rich environment we live in. My recommendation is that they offer more hands-on tours and workshops geared for specific age groups. They need energetic historian storytellers to engage the middle schoolers about Dead Horse Bay: how there was a glue factory and other business around this area; how Native Americans lived where we do, etc. We need to work hard to keep the Instagram generation interested and invested in history. Also, it would be great if the Rockaway Artist Alliance had more funding to run programs on Friday and Saturday nights for agespecific groups. RAA is a phenomenal group that would benefit our community if they had more space and resources. Let’s try to tap all our “gifts” on the beach. - Emma McDonough.

I interviewed my older brother who is 28 years old and he answered the questions as follows: Having been a product of public education in New York City, I can say that I was one of the lucky few to have experienced schools that facilitated and enhanced my particular interests in art. When I went to Mark Twain, and then LaGuardia High School, the art classes were what made me want to go to school in the morning. Ultimately, this enthusiasm for school spilled over to all my other subjects, and I went from being a mediocre student in elementary school to an honor student in high school. Therefore, I would urge educators in the Rockaways to provide opportunities for kids to explore and enhance their natural curiosity and talents.

- Nathan Koramblyum

Educational opportunities can be improved in the Rockaways by tapping into our surrounding natural resources such as our ocean, bay and beaches. Year-round classes and camps focusing on these would be beneficial for all ages. Learning about our environment would not only educate, but may also help people realize the importance of keeping our neighborhood a clean and healthy place to live and visit.

- Jake Mason

Right away my mom answered there should definitely be more choices for high schools. There are a limited number of high schools on the peninsula, and some of them don’t give the quality education that kids are supposed to get. My mom also said that kids should have more options for middle schools. She says this because some kids maybe don’t want to go to some schools, or the schools they want to go to don’t accept them or are too much money. I agree with my mom again, but I also believe that there should be a tutor company down here for kids that are having trouble with schoolwork.

- Ryann Schlageter

Many services could be added to tap the creative talent of children in the Rockaways. I think a kids’ section in The Wave and The Pointer could publish children’s writing. I think it should feature kids from different schools. People I interviewed agreed and also said that there should be a holiday choir so that people who enjoy singing can show off all their talents. Another person said that there should be more clubs and activities at libraries. Local libraries should be open on the weekends because that’s when kids are available to get books. These are fantastic suggestions and I hope some of them can come true.

- Megan Langella

My father was one of the founders and original members of the Rockaway Artists Alliance and the arts and music are very important to him. He thinks the RAA and the Rockaway Theatre Company are great organizations. They both offer educational courses, after-school programs and exciting shows and exhibits. However, he thinks that our government, through Gateway, needs to help expand these groups instead of threatening to throw them out of Fort Tilden. Also, we heard that there was going to be a huge cost for CYO and other groups to use the fields in Fort Tilden. We are hoping that will not happen, as Rockaway families cannot afford to pay crazy fees just to use a field after everything we have been through. Rockaway has many talented people who are able and willing to do great things for our community, but they need funding!

- Julia Redpath

We need more services to tap the creative talents of children. Rockaway should have more art teachers, musical teachers, etc. You can barely find any place that helps children with the creative talents they might have. We have lots of room for delis, but no teaching at all? In schools, they do not have a lot of time to teach anything creative— half an hour for art? Creative talents are what make the world more amusing and a lot less dull than it already is.

- Adam Mieleszko

My grandpa lives in Belle Harbor and I think his ideas about education are excellent. Grandpa: Space must be found for all-day pre-kindergarten at PS/MS 114. New York State will pay for pre-K but we need to find the place for it. Perhaps, it could be moved to a small, new building to be built at the site of the old Neponsit Nursing Home. The community should seek funding from legislators and foundations for a weekend arts program at PS/MS 114 and at Scholars’ Academy. The arts program could include field trips to museums, Lincoln Center, the theater. Perhaps, a partnership with the RAA could be created. Grandpa feels that we need something that could provide a range of educational programs for children and adults. Perhaps, Queens College or Queens Community College could be invited to offer courses for college credit. New York City or New York State could make space available for a building at the site of the Neponsit Nursing Home. The building might also include a section to house the PS/MS 114 middle school, freeing up space at the school for all-day pre-K.

- Ryan Murphy

To enhance the creative talents of our children, my mom would like to see more arts and crafts stores like Michael’s, where they sell all kinds of creative materials and crafty stuff as well as classes to attend. A music store would be great to help the students, especially those involved in band. A place that has music instruction classes would really benefit. I would also like to have a pottery or ceramic place as a service to help creativity.

- Jennifer Quagliariello

The public schools should expand to have classes for the gifted and talented. They have these special classes in Brooklyn public schools. A private, non-Catholic school from 1st-12th-grade would be great. This would allow more diversity. As many people in the Rockaways work in a trade, a trade school would also help our children expand their horizons. Lastly, some adult education classes would be helpful in the Rockaways to allow for these expanded educational opportunities.

- Bobby Dalton

We need after-school programs that help children who are falling behind in their studies and extra-curricular classes for students who are surpassing their educational requirements. These programs should include art, drama, writing, math, chess and even cooking classes.

- Gabrielle Zhuravenko

A good bookstore and a historical society for learning about Rockaway would be great for kids and adults. It would be good for school trips, too. - Kylie Galvin.

We can improve educational opportunities in Breezy Point, too. If we had bookstores and a library, it would encourage reading and book clubs. Read-aloud nights will help little children become better readers. During the summer, people could form marine biology clubs that could explore the beach and learn new things about our ecosystem.

- Stephanie O’Connor

In order to tap the creative talents of children, I think there should be music and art lessons available to everyone. There could also be art fairs and festivals for local artists to show their work. There should also be a stage area set up for children to rehearse, perform and display their individual talents for free for visitors of Rockaway.

- Thomas Kimmeth

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