Students get creative with Woodhaven history
Jun 19, 2018 | 997 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Columnist Ed Wendell speaks with PS 60 students.
Columnist Ed Wendell speaks with PS 60 students.
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It was the Summer of '76, the year of the Bicentennial, and it was a difficult time for one young boy. His family had moved from Woodhaven to South Ozone Park in the middle of the school year and he wasn’t adjusting well to the move.

He was leaving his home on Jamaica Avenue, he was leaving all of his friends, he was leaving his neighborhood and everything he knew. And as a result, his work suffered.

But there was one teacher who made a difference to this troubled young kid. She took the time to wait with him in the playground until his ride home came. She spoke to him about all the change he was going through. And she spoke to him about his future and all of the great things she said he could accomplish.

Her kindness and her interest made a tremendous difference to the young boy. That teacher was Mrs. Eleanor Roth of PS 60, and that young boy grew up to be me. How is it possible that so much time has passed by so very quickly?

When I was younger, summer vacations always flew by so fast. I had no idea that the rest of life would do the same. None of us knew.

All of this was floating through my head as I reviewed the results of a collaboration between the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society and the art students at PS 60.

I had passed along some pictures of historically significant locations in Woodhaven, which inspired the bright young students of PS 60 to create some beautiful artwork.

In some cases, the students were introduced to pieces of Woodhaven’s history they were unaware of, such as Dexter Park or Wyckoff-Snedeker Cemetery. In other instances, they were inspired by locales they were already familiar with, such as the Forest Park Carousel or Schmidt’s Candies.

I was invited to come to the school to see all the artwork along with all of the parents and had an opportunity to speak with the young artists, who were all deservedly proud of what they had created.

One student took me over to her painting of the Cyclone of 1895, and showed me all of the terrific detail she had added, including cars and livestock being whisked away. Another student showed me how he added the old cannon to Whiting Square.

It was a terrific artistic tribute to our community, and it was fascinating to look closely at the paintings to see what details they included from the photos and what details their imaginations added to the scenery as improvements.

For example, I have nothing but love for the Forest Park Carousel, and I think it is close to perfection as is. But I enjoyed seeing the pink unicorn that one student added to the menagerie.

Many thanks to everyone at PS 60 for making this happen, including art teachers Linda Graf, Pat Torre, and Josephine Sicuranza, teacher Jackie Harrison, parent coordinator Damaris Carrasco, and Principal Frank DeSario.

The students were bright and caring and thoughtful, and that must be credited to good parenting and good teaching. Thank you for ushering in our future.

And a special thank you to all of the students who took part in this project. Your love for our neighborhood shined brightly in your artwork. And, in time, I hope you will return to your old school to see students in the future sharing that love. I can tell you first hand that it is a wonderful experience.

But the future can wait. For now, enjoy the summer. Enjoy every single day of it.

Just a reminder that the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society is hosting their annual “Pay One Price” party at the Forest Park Carousel this Friday, June 22, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

For $10, you will get unlimited rides on the Carousel, Train Ride and Frog Hopper. There will also be a magic show and we’ll be playing great 50s music all night. Hope to see you there!

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