Last Wednesday morning, Councilman Costa Constantinides joined parents, students and staff at the school to cut the ribbon on the colorful new yard.
The space is equipped with jungle gyms for older and younger students, turf field, basketball courts, running track, benches and more.
“I send these pictures all over of what our schoolyard looks like now,” said Dr. Samantha Maisonet, principal at PS 151. “They say, ‘this has to be a private school somewhere in suburbia.’
“I say, ‘no, no, no,’” she added, “it’s in the heart of Woodside.”
For the last 21 years, students didn’t get to use much of the yard because most of the space was blocked off by transportable classroom units.
Ten trailers housed 17 classes and 105 students for PS 255, a school for special needs children. In March 2017, Constantinides announced that the District 75 students will move into their own space at the Most Precious Blood building in Astoria.
The councilman visited with PS 255 students a year ago, and said they were “loving” their new facility. Constantinides admitted to tearing up while reading the thank-you notes they wrote for him.
“One of the notes said, ‘I love my new building because when my mommy and daddy come to visit, I now have a bulletin board outside so they can see my work,’” he said. “That pulled the heartstrings just a little bit.”
According to Constantinides, every trailer in his district will be removed by 2023.
Getting rid of the trailers, which pols say are not ideal learning spaces for children, also means freeing up much-needed play space for students.
Maisonet said PS 151 students only had a “very small” play area on the side. They had old equipment that they shared with PS 255 students.
“It was inadequate,” she said.
The ecstatic principal added that she was grateful to the community, which put up with the banging, digging and hammering during construction.
“It’s absolutely amazing for the children that they now have a place to play, run, exercise on the track and enjoy their time outdoors,” Maisonet said, “which is where they’re supposed to be.”
Lorraine Grillo, president and CEO of the School Construction Authority, noted that the contractor finished the project ahead of schedule.
“It’s all part of our commitment at the SCA to remove all those horrible trailers,” she said, “anywhere we can, as quickly as we can.”
PS 151 will soon see even more additions. In the fall, the Woodside school will install solar panels.
Students will be able to see how much renewable energy is created andthe amount of fossil fuels that were spared. One-third of the school’s total energy usage is expected to come from the solar panels.
“It will be another opportunity for our kids to learn,” Constantinides said.