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Fresh Meadows school raises funds for funeral of slain 8-year-old

By Sarina Trangle

Amidst mourning, staff and families at PS 107 have gathered to fund-raise the $10,000 necessary to send a recently killed fourth-grader’s remains back to Cameroon with relatives.

The PS 107 community was stunned to learn Jerry Kenmoe, 8, was killed last weekend, parents and educators said.

The Queens District Attorney’s office charged the Flushing boy’s father with second-degree murder, shortly after police said he allegedly admitted to strangling the 8-year-old to death and slitting his wrists in an apparent suicide-attempt June 29.

Although PS 107 is on summer vacation, the Department of Education sent grief counselors to the Flushing school Monday and Tuesday to help teachers and parents mourn the fourth-grader, according to Joe Kessler, the District 25 United Federation of Teachers district leader.

“Kids were telling stories of Jerry — he was really, really liked by friends. And teachers said he was the sweetest and always wanted to help,” said Kessler, a physical education teacher at PS 107. “There was a lot, a lot of crying and we were consoling each other.”

By the end of the week, parents had organized a fund-raising drive to finance funeral arrangements and the flight to Cameroon for Jerry’s mother, Orlie Siankam, and aunt, Emilienne Ngampa.

Kathryn Como and Maria Bonilla, parents of boys who just graduated fifth grade from PS 107, said they believed it would cost at least $10,000 to purchase airfare so Siankam and Ngampa can bring Jerry’s remains to his mother’s native Cameroon. They said PS 107 also sought to help Jerry’s relatives finance a funeral scheduled for Saturday evening in Brooklyn.

“Unfortunately, you have a family that is desperately in need of funds to help with an 8-year-old’s remains,” said Como. “The mother is inconsolable.”

The parents had raised about $4,500 through a booth in front of PS 107, at 167-02 45 Ave., and through an online donation, at www.crowdrise.com/fundraiserforJerryKenmoe, as of Saturday afternoon.

They aim to come up with the full $10,000 by Wednesday so the relatives could book a Friday flight.

Como and Bonilla said PS 107 parents and pupils chipped in, recalling Jerry as quick to smile. The 8-year-old was a frequent basketball play and also practiced Taekwondo.

Even strangers stopped by.

Jonathan Smith said he felt compelled to donate as a father.

“As the ancient African proverb says, it takes a village to raise a child,” Smith said. “We are all part of a village and the children are our legacy.”

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.

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