THE COURIER/Photos by Shant Shahrigian
Vita Leone, president of the Rockwood Park School’s PTA, gives away raffle prizes at the association’s annual fundraiser at Russo’s on the Bay.

Even in the best of circumstances, getting the kids to school can be a chore. But when Sandy temporarily shut down the Rockwood Park School (P.S./M.S. 207Q) in Howard Beach – and some students were assigned to another school about an hour’s bus ride away – getting them up in the morning became all the more difficult.

“Basically he hit snooze about four times,” Pamela Baglino said of her seventh-grade son. “By the fourth snooze, I’m like, alright, now you have to get out of bed.”

PTA members like Baglino had reason to let loose at a lively fundraiser at Russo’s on the Bay on Thursday, May 15. About 190 members wined, dined and danced during the evening. Organizers expected to raise up to $7,000 for the PTA, whose basement office at the Rockwood Park School was ruined during Sandy. The funds will also go to school planners, graduation awards and other uses.

“We lost so many months of fundraising,” PTA president Vita Leone said. “Now we’re making it up tonight.”

Area businesses donated raffle prizes including iPad minis, a cruise package and gift baskets. One parent donated the use of his photo booth for the night, a big hit with PTA members, who took snapshots in silly hats and accessories.

“It’s fun,” PTA member Stephanie Casillo said. “Everybody came out to have a good time and raise money for the school.”

During the roughly two months the Rockwood Park School was closed for post-Sandy repairs, elementary school students went to the nearby Walter Ward School (P.S. 232). Middle schoolers were assigned to the Holmes School in Long Island City (I.S. 204), necessitating long bus rides and other inconveniences.

Citywide, students at 61 schools were relocated to 63 other sites as a result of Sandy, according to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott’s testimony before the City Council’s education committee in February.

While the re-opening of the Rockwood Park School on January 2 was a welcome relief, memories of the ordeal lingered at the annual fundraiser.

“It’s nice for everyone to be together,” PTA member Cetti Madonna said. “It’s a happy event, as opposed to Sandy–terrible memories.”




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