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THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan
Class 2-314 showed off the books they each wrote and illustrated.

Spirits are still sky-high for kids at P.S. 130, even a month after the school was given the federal government’s prestigious Blue Ribbon award.

The Bayside early childhood school was honored for being a high performing school on September 15. According to David Thomas, spokesperson for the United States Department of Education, the school received the award for consistently performing at high levels on New York State assessments in both reading and mathematics. The school’s most recent assessment test scores place it amongst the highest in the nation.

But the work’s not over yet.

“It’s an awesome responsibility, but you never stop learning and you never stop growing,” said Principal Michelle Contratti. “There’s always room for improvement. We need to continue to believe that and not become complacent in our success. We need to honor it and continue to think of ways to improve.”

According to Contratti and Assistant Principal Laurie Careddu, the award could not have been achieved without the joint efforts of teachers, parents and students. The combination — and constant conversation between them — creates the perfect recipe for success.

“I have an incredibly talented group of teachers. They consider themselves lifelong learners and they constantly push themselves to stay on top of the latest and most progressive techniques for teaching,” Contratti said. “We also have an incredibly supportive parent population who come to the meetings, learn about what children can do, take part and interest in their learning at home and assist them. And we also have students who really care and want to do their best.”

School officials said they’re proud to have created an environment where the students are not afraid to voice their thoughts.

“A lot of times, they’ll be very honest with their opinions. They’re very comfortable. They’re free to explore and question and I think that’s part of what makes us a national Blue Ribbon school,” Careddu said.

It may also have something to do with their dedication to the arts, she said.

The school has partnered with Lincoln Center Institute for almost 15 years in its ongoing efforts to keep musical, dance, dramatic and visual arts alive in schools — especially during a time of challenging budget cuts.

“Especially in an early childhood school, we see its importance and we have incredible belief in what it does for students,” Contratti said. “We see children whose second language is English — or children who are very shy — really come alive and celebrate themselves in a very confident way through the arts. It’s a means of expression, especially at this age, that’s the most important for children.”

During the 12-lesson unit of study, a teaching artist from the institute works with the students and teachers in order to produce a professional performance at the end of both fall and spring.

“The kids love it and that’s something that really draws in the parents,” Contratti said.

When the school’s senior third-graders graduate, the ultimate goal, according to Contratti and Carredu, is for them to leave feeling comfortable and confident with themselves and their abilities.

Carredu said they’ve been successful so far.

“Even when we run into other administrators at meetings, they always say, ‘We enjoy having your children come to us. We always know a child from P.S. 130.’”


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