Success Academy parents, students and educators were gathered with Congressman Gregory Meeks to celebrate the opening of Success Academy Ozone Park Middle School with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, Oct. 4.
The space for the new school, which opened in August and serves 250 Success Academy Queens fifth- and sixth-grade students, was provided by the city in late May, after years of tenacious advocacy by thousands of parents and educators who received support from elected officials.
Representatives of Senator James Sanders Jr., Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson and Councilwoman Adrienne Adams were in attendance for the event.
“Today we live in a global society. Our young people no longer compete within their block, within their neighborhood, within their city, state or nation,” Meeks said. “They have to be ready to compete with people all around the world, and we here in New York, especially in Queens County, we have to make sure we benefit and include ourselves in this global society. That’s a key issue we have to deal with and you have to have the education to do that.”
Meeks added, “It takes a team to make sure you are educated in a facility that is also conducive for that learning. It also shows young people that you care. You care about their education. You care about their environment. When they grow up knowing that adults care about who they are and where they are, and how they learn and what they do — it’s something that is transformative.”
The city agreed to provide the building, a former Catholic school located at 109-55 128th St., in May, when the students’ temporary co-location at I.S. 238 in Hollis was about to expire.
According to Success Academy, the new building required significant work. Due to the last-minute timing of the offer in late May, the SA renovations team was tasked with a top-to-bottom renovation of the space — including all new electrical and plumbing systems, demolition, rebuilding, painting, tiling and flooring — in just over two months.
Although Success Academy had first requested space from the city in 2017, school officials said Mayor Bill de Blasio had failed to act until 2019, when parent advocacy groups kept pushing demanding accountability and a space for their kids to learn.
In September of 2019, more than 4,000 advocates gathered to rally for education equity in Roy Wilkins Park and began appealing for help.
Over the next 18 months, they sent 19,000 emails and made over 2,300 phone calls to elected officials asking for their support. This included multiple press conferences, including one with more than 200 southeast Queens fourth-graders, who would’ve been left without seats for the next school year.
Before a tour of the new school, sixth-grader Ayden Brotherson said being in the building gave him personal satisfaction knowing that he was part of the fight for a new school.
“I would like to thank the many people who have been instrumental in the preparation of this new building for us, but also remind us that currently our brothers and sisters at Success Academy Far Rockaway are in a space fight of their own,” Brotherson said. “Let us all use this experience to be reminded that if we stand together we can accomplish what might seem impossible.”