Building Tomorrow’s Leaders: Highlights from P.S. 64Q’s Annual Leadership Day

Medina PS. 64
Students in class at P.S. 64Q hold a Socratic seminar on the topic of civil rights following a reading of the Ballad of Birmingham, a poem by Dudley Randall.
Photo by Anthony Medina

At P.S. 64Q in Ozone Park, students are learning to be leaders both in the classroom and at home.

A reminder of the school’s shared commitment to fostering student leadership is displayed at the very heart of the building.

Upon entering the main entrance of P.S. 64Q on 83rd Street, nestled between 101st and 97th Avenue, a staircase leading to the school’s cafeteria has one of the “8 Habits of Highly Effective People” marked on each step.

These habits, which ascend from the bottom step, are: be proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; synergize; sharpen the saw; and find your voice. 

Students from kindergarten through fifth grade at the Joseph P. Addabbo School of Leadership and Social Activism at P.S. 64Q embrace these principles. On one special day each year, students get the chance to showcase their growth in these habits to the school and community, demonstrating their journey in leadership and personal development.

P.S. 64Q, The Joseph P. Addabbo School of Leadership and Social Justice Activism held its Annual Leadership Day on Wednesday, June 5. Over 30 guests spent the day with students to see firsthand how they have become leaders of their generation. 

Educators at the historic public school have partnered with the Leader in Me program, which aims to teach students around the globe how to be successful and incorporate 8 habits into their curriculum. 

Guests who entered the school on Wednesday had the privilege of being greeted by six student leaders, all of whom wore blue sashes that helped them stand out from their peers.

The first of many stops on the student-focused day guided guests to the cafeteria to partake in a complimentary breakfast, which practices the 7th Habit taught to students, emphasizing the importance of taking care of the body to create inner balance.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by PS SixtyFour (@ps_64q)

In the cafeteria, Jonathan Padilla, a parent who visited the school in support of his daughter Kaylee, who is in the 2nd grade, told QNS he works almost every day, but that doesn’t stop him from being there for Kaylee.

Shortly after a light breakfast, guests were escorted to a town hall meeting organized in the school’s auditorium. Here, the lessons learned from the first leadership Habit, “Be Proactive,” were practically applied, putting the students’ understanding and skills to the test.

Panelists comprised of the school’s assistant principal, Regina Capowski, civic leaders, elected officials, and officers from the NYPD were asked relevant questions from the school’s student council. 

A town hall hosted by Students as part of P.S. 64Q’s Student Council.Photo by Anthony Medina

The questions, usually raised by adults at an average community-based town hall, had students ask about access to healthy foods, food waste management, Halal food options, helping the homeless, localized public safety concerns, and the effects of social media.

A familiar guest to the school, Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr, even sat in at the town hall via Zoom to participate with the help of one tech-savvy student in the auditorium. 

As the day transitioned into the classroom, the discussions delved into topics usually reserved for older students.

The mature themes from the student-led town hall continued to resonate within the classroom environment. In one remarkable session, a class of about 30 young students, led by a long-time educator, engaged in a discussion on civil rights. This followed their reading of “The Ballad of Birmingham” by Dudley Randall. The students participated in a Socratic seminar, where they shared and analyzed the poem’s content.

Remarkably composed despite the large crowd entering their classroom, the students encouraged one another to contribute to the group conversation. They articulated their emotional responses to specific stanzas, demonstrating a deep engagement with the material and a mature understanding of its themes.

Students sit in a Socratic Seminar style to better share their findings among their peers. Photo by Anthony Medina

In another room, students in the Boy’s Mentoring Club and Girls STEM program gave guests an exclusive look at their innovative minds with their Minecraft settlement and projects involving 3D printing.

The Minecraft settlement, built using the popular video game Minecraft, is meant to teach students the leadership habit of working first and playing second.

The Boys Club took their conceptual model of an ideal settlement using a blueprint and Lego pieces and transferred their vision through the game.

Students describe their club projects to a room full of invited guests on Leadership Day at P.S. 64Q. Photo by Anthony Medina
Photo by Anthony Medina

Through innovation and 3D printing, the Boys’ and Girls’ groups showcased their 3D-printed items and design processes. The success of the 3D prints paved the way for what’s called the Owls Nest — a play on the popular television series Shark Tank — where students learn how to pitch their creations.

3D printing, although new to P.S. 64Q, has generated some popularity, especially since students learned that they could turn their designs into 3D prints. Photo by Anthony Medina

Shortly thereafter, guests had the opportunity to engage with students individually and discuss their leadership portfolios. Students placed their best work across a multitude of classes in their portfolios and certainly weren’t afraid to share what they learned with others. 

Faheem, a 9-year-old student from one of P.S. 64Q’s top educators’ writing classes, shared with QNS some of his favorite pieces. The writing assignments had encouraged him and his classmates to find their voice, aligning with the 8th Habit of Highly Effective People.

Faheem enthusiastically talked about his love for pizza. He also says he helps his mom quite a bit around the house, and although QNS did not look further into his claims, this reporter trusted Ahmed was telling the truth. In addition to his love for Pizza, Faheem shared that he cares a lot about his family. He also taught this reporter a few new facts about wild dogs by using an informative sheet he made using the software Canva. 

In another classroom, a group of intelligent first-graders welcomed this reporter and two others, seizing the chance to share their stories with the visitors.

Ethan, Zeus, and Tahmina, each between the ages of 6 and 7, eagerly discussed their favorite subjects and reading materials. Zeus expressed a fondness for gym class, while Tahmina shared her love for princess books. Ethan proudly showcased several assignments on which he had received perfect scores, demonstrating their enthusiasm and achievements in their school activities.

Upon completion of the tour around the school and in classrooms to see student work, guests were taken back to the auditorium for a final spectacular performance by the school’s Performing Arts Club.

A closing performance by the Performing Arts Club at P.S. 64Q.Photo by Anthony Medina

Students at P.S. 64 are taking charge of their learning, and it’s evident that the school’s educators have set an example for the next generation of leaders coming out of Ozone Park.

Educators at the school have helped pave the way for many of its students who have come and gone, including this reporter, who was greeted by a teacher who recognized him even after nearly two decades since his time as a student there.