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‘A beacon of enlightenment’: Broad Channel celebrates newly rebuilt P.S. 47 school that had been damaged during Superstorm Sandy

Sep. 14, 2023 By Bill Parry

The children of Broad Channel have returned to their newly reconstructed P.S. 47 after a year of traveling to an old school building in the Rockaways as the city completed the project.

Elected officials and community leaders joined NYC School Construction Authority (SCA) president and CEO Nina Kubota for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 260-seat school serving grades 3K through 8, after their previous building experienced extensive damage during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“The newly rebuilt P.S. 47 delivers a fresh start for education professionals, students and parents in this wonderful community,” Kubota said. “This new school, along with nine others that opened last week is evidence that the SCA and NYC Public Schools are working diligently to deliver better educational facilities for students throughout the City and provide spaces that support their needs.”

The fully air-conditioned and accessible school, located at 9 Power Road in Broad Channel, features 14 classrooms, including one 3K classroom, one pre-K classroom, one kindergarten classroom, nine standard classrooms and two special education classrooms.

“It has been a long road and having worked on this project since day one and finally seeing the doors open to welcome our students is incredible,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “This type of investment in infrastructure is exactly what our community deserves – the best. I am beaming with pride as this is a truly great moment for Broad Channel, our children, and the future.”

The new P.S. 47 also includes reading, science and speech resource rooms, art and music classrooms, a parent and community room, a library, a gymatorium, an outdoor play area and bicycle storage. The school has support spaces including medical, guidance and administrative suites, a staff lunch and conference room, and a kitchen and cafeteria.

“This building is more than just concrete walls; it is a sanctuary of knowledge, a crucible of dreams and a beacon of enlightenment,” Principal Heather Lorenz said. “ It is an investment in the future.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was especially significant for PTA president Sabrina Gross.

“This building was a generational effort,” she said. “My now departed mother-in-law was behind the original drive for a new building. It was my honor to continue this effort in her name. The new building is a blessing for future generations.”

Broad Channel Civic Association President Dan Mundy said the community is thrilled with the new replacement school, after the previous P.S. 47 building was at 140% capacity, and was so heavily damaged during Sandy including structural issues related to heating and cooling. It also lacked a gym, cafeteria, library, and adequate outdoor play space.

“The new school is amazing and filled with fantastic design concepts such as an open-air atrium and views of Jamaica Bay. In addition, it incorporates many resilient features such as a green roof and is elevated above the floodplain to withstand any future storm events,” Mundy said. “This school will be here for future generations and so many children will have a wonderful place to come and learn for years to come.”

During the reconstruction, students were temporarily relocated at the former Stella Maris High School, the former all-girls school at Beach 112th Street in Rockaway Park, until the new P.S. 47 was ready for occupancy.

Officials broke ground on the project in March 2022. Photo by Paul Frangipane

“This day is a long time coming, and it is a true testament to the hard work and commitment of people like Dan Mundy Jr., the Broad Channel Civic Association, SCA President and CEO Nina Kubota, the former head of the School Construction Authority, Lorraine Grillo and many others,” Councilwoman Joann Ariola said. “The speed of this project was amazing to witness and I look forward to seeing generations of children make use of this state-of-the-art facility for many years to come.”

State Senator Joseph Addabbo also praised Grillo for her leadership on the project, which began with a chance conversion between the two in 2018.

“We have certainly come a long way from the temporary storage trailer-like structures we tried to convince ourselves was an acceptable school building known as P.S. 47. That ended up lasting over two decades,” Addabbo said. “I will forever be grateful for President Grillo’s understanding of the deplorable conditions at P.S. 47 and her determination to improve the educational setting there for the children, for generations to come. Because of the dedicated efforts of many, including current SCA President and CEO Nina Kubota, we have finally arrived at this fateful day, which is all about the kids. It’s all about the students and making sure they get a quality education and an opportunity for a bright future.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards added that he was “thrilled to celebrate” the opening of the new state-or-the-art building.

“The children of Broad Channel deserve nothing but the best from our school system, and I look forward to working with all our government partners as we continue to build out more school seats in every community across Queens,” Richards said. “Thank you to SCA President and CEO Nina Kubota, to NYC Public Schools Chancellor David Banks, and to everyone who worked so hard to get this 260-seat building ready in time for the start of the school year.”

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