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Gioia funds renovation of Woodside school library

Gioia funds renovation of Woodside school library
Council members Eric Gioia and Elizabeth Crowley join singers and student government leaders at PS 229 in Woodside to cut the ribbon on the school’s newly renovated library. Photo by Jeremy Walsh
By Jeremy Walsh

Students at PS 229 in Woodside may be more inclined to bury their noses in a good book after the completion of a $150,000 renovation of the school’s library.

The funding, procured by City Councilman Eric Gioia (D−Sunnyside), replaced the floors with new linoleum, refurbished the wooden bookshelves and added air conditioning, a flat−screen TV and a digital blackboard to the small room on the third floor of the school.

“The library is critically important,” Gioia told students at the school Tuesday morning. “Doors in your mind will open up.”

The library, named for PS 229’s first principal, Emanuel Kaplan, had not been renovated since the school opened in 1967.

“It was like from the 1930s with ragged carpets,” said Principal Sibylle Ajwani, noting the room is used by the school’s 1,350 students every class period every day. “It was really sad.”

Some of PS 229’s students who were on hand for the ceremony agreed with Ajwani’s assessment.

“I was here when it used to be all messed up,” said sixth−grader Joe Kates, 11, of Woodside. “I’m excited to see the new look.”

Third−grader Melissa Ruiz, 9, of East Elmhurst, said she had peeked into the room over the last week as it neared completion.

“It’s beautiful and it has new stuff,” she said. “Last year, it was a little messy.”

The new look incorporated many of the old flourishes from librarian Gloria Sfroudis, who has managed the room on and off since 1973. Atop the shelves sit models of historic sailing vessels, like the Mayflower and USS Constitution, which she uses to teach kids about history. The next tier is decorated with distinctive−looking rocks.

Sfroudis said she kept the room open for students during the yearlong renovation, even as the books were being packed away, teaching them how to play Parcheesi, chess and Chinese checkers.

“I am so excited for the children,” she said, noting the school found out about the grant 2 12 years ago. “It’s been a long haul.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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