By Naeisha Rose
PS 133 in Bellerose and IS 109 in Queens Village celebrated major upgrades last Friday.
Standing in the brisk fall breeze Oct. 19 at PS 133 for the groundbreaking of a new schoolyard and playground were local elected officials, staff, student government, members of the city’s School Construction Authority and Principal Nicole Colón.
“This project means everything to our children,” Colón said as young members of the student government wore bright red sashes with PS 133 emblazoned in bright yellow. “They ask me every day. They ask me when is the park going to be done. They can’t wait to start planning activities and it is on their student council agenda.”
Also in attendance to support the schoolyard and playground at the school — located at 248-05 86th Ave. — was Bellerose Commonwealth Civic Association President Lourdes Villanueva Hartwick.
“Sometimes as a civic leader I feel like hmm, we don’t really do much, but this is a day we can say we worked really hard,” Villanueva Hartwick said.
Working with the civic association and members of the community, Villanueva Hartwick made phone calls, wrote letters and used every opportunity she had to speak to local officials —including City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) — to make sure the school got a new playground and schoolyard.
Years of work culminated in approximately over $4 million being donated to the improvement of the schoolyard and playground, according to Grodenchik’s office.
Students in hardhats holding shovels stood with with Colón, Villanueva Hartwick, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and state Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-Queens Village) and broke ground on the project.
Grodenchik then dashed from PS 133 to IS 109 — located at at 213-10 92nd Ave. — to cut the ribbon on a new STEM lab.
Vanel and state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) joined Grodenchik at the ribbon cutting ceremony, along with staff and students at the school.
“We are here today with a brand new lab and an exciting opportunity for our children to learn,” Grodenchik said. “We’ve come a long way here.”
Two years ago, the dilapidated science lab and other space in the building was set to be co-located by a charter school, but Grodenchik helped put a stop to it, according to school staff and volunteers.
“I’m really excited about having a new lab,” Principal Karleen Comrie said. “We’ve been trying to get a new lab since 2003.”
According to the principal, the new lab, which cost approximately $250,000, comes with a 3-D printing machine, an air machine to clean chemicals, electric microscopes, a smart board and updated instruments.
“It’s been years in the making for us to actually have a science lab,” AP Science Teacher Pauline Dorsaint said. “Our principal has been working excessively to make sure this happens… and we admire all of her efforts.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose