202 in the news

February 2017

Nimoratul Ferdous was chosen as one of the five finalists for our Young Playwrights for Change competition! Nimoratul's play will be staged as a reading at The Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row.

Ozone Park middle school students ushered in the Year of the Horse last Friday, when MS 202′s students were treated to a Lunar New Year celebration.

Students with Chinese backgrounds shared stories about their own families and tradition surrounding the Chinese New Year. The school community learned that many of the families celebrate with a huge feast, typically held at midnight. Special fruits, including mandarin oranges, are placed on the tables. A large bowl of uncooked rice are also placed on the table, which is meant to bring wealth and prosperity in the new year.

The students were eager to share their special New Year traditions, and the pupils noted that because red is considered a lucky color, the children are given small red envelopes called hong biao, which are filled with money and candy – which they usually find tucked under their pillows on New Year’s Day morning.

Throughout the day, students shared some of their favorite sweet treats with us, such as sweet rice crackers, fortune cookies and zeen doy – which are sesame seed balls. The middle schoolers said they are especially looking forward to the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated on the 15th day after New Year’s.

In honor of the Chinese New Year, the school treated all the students to cupcakes made for the occasion and a photo with the principal, William Fitzgerald. The MS 202 community would like to extend its good wishes to all who celebrate the Chinese New Year and wish everyone Gong Hay Fat Choy!

Justin Wolf, a JHS 202 teacher who has worked to revive the school’s music program since arriving at the institution three years ago, applied for the grant approximately two years ago. Following a rigorous review process by the nonprofit, Wolf and JHS 202 Principal William Fitzgerald were notified at the end of November that the school would receive a bevy of new instruments – everything from flutes and trumpets to saxophones and clarinets – that were worth about $30,000.“I almost fell to the floor; I was so excited,” said Wolf, a music teacher who has garnered high praise from his middle school students for bringing new energy into a program that helps give an artistic outlet to students who may not always find their passion amongst textbooks.“This grant allows each student to have access to their own instruments, which is great,” Wolf continued.Gayadin and two of her fellow eighth grade peers, Afsana Ahmed and Anthony Marino, agreed, saying the new influx of instruments – which replaces others that have been around the school since the 1960s – is most welcome.“It’s exciting because we can play a lot clearer; you can hear a difference,” Marino said of the new instruments, which also include a xylophone, euphonium, bass clarinet, and four snare drum kits.The $30,000 grant follows another $10,000 the school and the Parent Teacher Association spent on the music program two years ago as part of its effort to offer music to pupils – a stark contrast to the cuts in the arts that schools have sustained throughout the five boroughs in recent years. Additionally, Wolf applied for, and received, a grant from Little Kids Rock – a nonprofit that works to bring modern rock into schools by donating instruments – that landed the school 31 guitars last year.Such a commitment to the arts has not only drawn students to the music program, but it helped the institution land the grant from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.“When they saw how serious we are about our music program here, they said they wanted to invest in us,” said Fitzgerald, who noted that, in addition to music, the school has worked on building an entire roster of creative programs, including drama and visual arts.“Not all students are talented in academics – this gives students a chance to shine in other areas,” Fitzgerald said.

For the students at JHS 202 in Ozone Park, a $30,000 music grant that the school just landed was about more than receiving a sea of shiny new instruments: It was emblematic of the school’s revived and growing music program that is becoming a crown jewel at an institution that has gone against a citywide tide of years of art and music cutbacks and focused on boosting its creative endeavors.“There’s a lot more available to us – that gives us so much more potential,” Savrana Gayadin, an eighth grade student at JHS 202, said of her school’s growing music program.Gayadin was one of a classroom of students last week to catch a first glimpse at the 29 new musical instruments the school received thanks to a $30,000 grant from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, a national nonprofit that donates instruments to schools across the country.

NEW MEIA LIBRARY AT GODDARD SCHOOLS

JHS 202 and Robert Goddard High School of Communication Arts and Technology cut the ribbon on the new library in their Ozone Park school building last Friday.The postmodern study hall features globe-shaped light fixtures, tables for group study and colorful bookshelves, though much of the tech-savvy school’s students read electronically.The library, which like the building is shared by the middle school and the high school, was made possible by a $500,000 allocation from Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), cutting the ribbon above with Goddard High School Principal Joseph Birgeles, left, and JHS 202 Principal William Fitzgerald. Ulrich also announced he provided some grant money toward new technology, such as new computers and smartboards, for the school.