By Carlotta Mohamed
MS 216 George J. Ryan had a reason to celebrate Monday night after acquiring the coveted title of National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
Students, parents, teachers and faculty members filled the school auditorium — located at 64-20 175th St. in Fresh Meadows — as the New York City Police Department Jazz Band and the George J. Ryan Cheerleaders entertained guests.
MS 216 is the only middle school in New York City to achieve the National Blue Ribbon Award in October for its academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps within student subgroups, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Principal Dr. Reginald Landeau Jr. thanked local elected officials, the New York Department of Education Leadership, Council of School Administrators and District 26 School leaders before unveiling the award received at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“This is a community of love and without the love we don’t achieve high rates,” said Landeau. “If students aren’t happy, they don’t achieve and if my staff isn’t happy, they’re not able to transmit that to students, and if the student’s aren’t happy they don’t do well and that doesn’t lead to happy parents.”
“We have a quality school and we deliver a quality product,” Landeau added.
Julietta Malayev, an eighth-grader in the Class of 2019, said George A. Ryan is a phenomenal school that helps students learn and grow to become gendered oriented members of society.
“In our years at this school, Ryan has continued to open the doors to so many diverse opportunities to help us explore the real world from clubs, teams, to academic standards. Ryan has helped to build such an amazing environment creating an atmosphere of leadership, comfort and safety,” said Malayev.
Graduates from the class of 2018 shared their experience of participating in extracurricular activities at the school.
“One of my personal favorites fundraisers we organized at Ryan was Pennies for Patients,” said Gabriella Khaldarov, who was a part of Project BOOST (Building Options and Opportunities for Students). “My involvement in Project Boost helped me meet new people and open up my eyes and heart to the larger community outside of the school.”
Thirandi Dandeniya touched on her engagement in the GEMMS Club (Girl Empowerment Movement in Mathematics), which promotes academic achievement and engagement for young ladies in Mathematics and Science.
“GEMMS helped me meet many incredible women who have become my role models and helped me gain confidence,” said Dandeniya. “Because of clubs such as this one, many of us were able to find ourselves and build meaningful connections surrounding Math and self empowerment.”
State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) presented a proclamation to Landeau and the school for its achievement.
“I’d like to thank Dr. Landeau for completely transforming this building, school, but this entire community as well,” said Rozic. “We are so honored and grateful for you to be such a critical piece to all of this. I know that I join my colleagues in government in saying that, and we want to support you, your administration, and this entire school however we can.”
Dahlia Chowdhury, PTA president, said MS 216 has taught her kids how to set up and achieve goals in life.
“If you wanted to describe the George A. Ryan Middle School, there’s only word that comes in my mind — family. My kids are so proud of being a part of the Ryan family,” said Chowdhury.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha