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Friday, November 19, 2010

PS 204 Cuts Ribbon on New Building

Students helped cut the ribbon at last Tuesday's opening ceremony. (Photos: J. Fergusson)
In September, PS 204 moved into the Morris Heights Educational Complex, a brand new building on University Avenue, much to the joy of students, parents, and teachers.

The elementary school's old home, a converted synagogue a few blocks away on West 174th Street, was in terrible shape. And it lacked a gym, an auditorium, a library, and other amenities that typically make a school a school.

The new building, a state-of-the-art facility which PS 204 shares with P723, a small special needs school, boasts all of these amenities - and then some.

Last Tuesday, the schools held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening.

"Our story is how we went from rags to riches," said Marcy Glattstein, PS 204's principal, speaking in the auditorium afterwards.

The new building is on University Avenue
Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson and State Senator Jose Serrano, both of whom supported the school's relocation, were among those in attendance. And so were dozens of parents, many of whom attended a public meeting with DOE officials last year, during which they made a compelling case for PS 204's relocation.

"The parents came out, the community came out, they changed history and they got it done," Serrano said.

Two PS 204 fifth graders, Tyler Montilla and Janicebell Ulerio, won an essay contest about the differences between the old and the new buildings, and both read their essays in the auditorium.

"My school now has a beautiful library... with many more books than before," Janicebell said.

"In science we [now] have a fake skeleton to help us with the human body," said Tyler, who also noted that the new building has "water fountains that actually work."

"We deserve what we got and what we fought for," Tyler said.

PS 204 is considered one of the better elementary schools in the Bronx. When the DOE releases its annual progress reports, the school routinely receives an A grade.  Parents and teachers said they hoped the new building, and all it offers, would enable them to build on past successes. 

The school's old building, the former synagogue, is now occupied by the Carl C. Icahn South Bronx Charter School, which moved to Morris Heights from Morrisania this fall. A DOE spokesman previously said that the city would address some of the concerns PS 204 parents had raised about the building. But it's unclear what, if anything, has been done.  We've put in calls to both the DOE and the charter school to find out more. 

The Morris Heights Educational Complex. From the outside, one of the most striking features is the digital display above the main entrance.


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