Covering Battery Park City

[media-credit name="Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer " align="aligncenter" width="600"][/media-credit]
At P.S./I.S. 276’s second annual winter carnival on Jan. 21, third-grader Darshan Singh, 8, thought of telling jokes to raise money for the school — an idea that netted $103. His father, Harry, held a sign that said “$1 for a joke” as Darshan’s brother, Veer, 3, watched.

P.S./I.S. 276 winter carnival:A snowstorm couldn’t dampen spirits at P.S./I.S. 276’s second annual winter carnival on Jan. 21. There were games, face painting, crafts and a delectable array of international food prepared by the school’s parents. Money raised by the PTA-sponsored carnival will go for such things as more books for the library, the librarian’s salary, the music program, chess lessons and teacher enrichment.

Several businesses contributed to the fundraising event, among them Manhattan Youth, Abel/Noser Corp., the Albanese Organization, Brookfield Office Properties and 1 Rector Park. One third-grader, Darshan Singh, 8, made his own contribution. He came up with the idea of telling jokes — one joke for $1 — that brought $103 into the school’s kitty. Darshan was adamant that there would be no free jokes and no refunds. Some examples from Darshan’s repertoire: How do French fries get married? (With onion rings.) When is chicken soup bad for you? (When you’re the chicken.) What starts with T, ends with T and is full of T? (A teapot.)

“We have a variety of fundraisers throughout the school year,” said Gabriela Newman, a member of the winter carnival committee and the mother of a second-grader. She said the fundraisers include Run For Knowledge in September, held in collaboration with PS/IS 89, a pie sale in November, a holiday bazaar in December, and an auction in May.

The school at 55 Battery Place currently has approximately 520 students from pre-K through third grade plus a middle school. Next year, fourth grade classes will be added.

Block play: A young child who is fortunate enough to live in Battery Park City (or anywhere near by, for that matter) has unparalleled educational opportunities available through the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy’s programs and through the parks themselves, where the natural world can be experienced and explored. To its already impressive roster of classes and programs for children ranging in age from babies to teens, the Parks Conservancy is adding Block Play for three- and four-year-olds.

Modular blocks were developed by (and perhaps invented by) Caroline Pratt, who, in 1913, founded the City & Country School in Greenwich Village. Pratt came from an industrial arts background and had unconventional ideas about how children learn. Rather than giving children pre-made toys, she gave them materials with which to exercise their imaginations and create what they needed. Modular blocks have enabled generations of City & Country children to learn about spatial relationships, the fundamentals of mathematics and how to work cooperatively. Beginning at the age of two and continuing until they are seven, they build entire cities from blocks, populating them with everything that they experience. Stores sell merchandise and payments change hands. There are homes, hospitals, police stations, fire departments, boats that steam up and down the rivers. Signs have to be written, and the children learn to read and write. Working with blocks that are fractional sizes of larger blocks, they learn math skills.

The B.P.C. Parks Conservancy Block Play sessions will be led by Doug van Horn, a programming leader at the Conservancy and a former teacher at City & Country. The program takes place at 6 River Terrace and is limited to 10 children per session.

Tuesdays, Feb. 21 to April 10, 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m., three-year-olds and caregiver; 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m., four-year-olds and caregiver. The fee is $160. Call (212) 267-9700, ext. 348 to register.

Nick Liuzzi, the owner and manager of Benvenuti, a pizzeria and Italian food shop that opened on Jan. 23 at 235 South End Ave. With his uncle Dominick, Liuzzi previously owned Samantha’s at the same location.

Benvenuti opens: Samantha’s at 235 South End Ave. closed a year ago, ending a 15-year run in Battery Park City. But on Jan. 23, a successor opened with Nick Liuzzi, formerly a partner in Samantha’s, now the sole owner and manager. The new store, Benvenuti, sells pizzas and Italian specialties such as homemade mozzarella, fresh pastas, soups (Italian wedding, pasta fagioli and minestrone are on the menu), Italian cookies and a variety of cheeses, olives and artisanal breads.

Liuzzi’s grandfather came from Bari, a city of around 320,000 on the Adriatic Sea in southern Italy, where the family still owns three supermarkets. That’s where Liuzzi spent his high school years. “I grew up in the family business,” he said. “I love to cook. My love and my passion is Italian cuisine.”

The opening of Benvenuti was greeted with applause by some customers. Shirley Feinberg, who has lived at Gateway Plaza for 24 years, stopped in to say hello on opening day. She recalled that on 9/11, Nick drove her and her husband, Wilfred, to Bowling Green so that they could escape.

“This is family over here,” Liuzzi said, as she told the story. “This is kids I saw grow up, that I knew as babies. This neighborhood is my family.”

For now, Benvenuti is open from Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., with catering available. For deliveries, call (212) 945-2100.

TriBattery Pops seeks musicians: The TriBattery Pops, founded nine years ago by B.P.C. resident Tom Goodkind, is seeking a few more musicians. “Another tuba, trombone or sax would really go well!” Goodkind said. Auditions are not required.

The band practices at 7 p.m. on the last two Fridays of the month, January through May, at the Church Street School for Music and Art, 74 Warren St. “This year, we’re celebrating the end of the Mayan calendar by wearing black,” Goodkind said.

Goodkind is proud of the fact that Stan Lee of Marvel Comics designed the TriBattery Pops logo. “I grew up next door to Stan and we’re still close,” he explained. “He did a comic strip for the New York Daily Mirror based on the way I talked as a three-year-old in the 1950s. The invisible girl, Sue Storm of the Fantastic Four, is styled as my mom.  I wrote a Strange Tales comic for Stan when I was 10.  All this can’t make up for when my mom threw out all my collectors edition comics when I turned 18 – including 10 Spider Man No.1s! When I started the Pops, I asked Stan to design our logo, and he commented, ‘Wait a minute, Tommy. I have to put Steve Spielberg on hold.’  In less than a week Stan drew for me three batteries against a skyline of New York City.”

Goodkind said that, “Being in the Pops is a lot of fun and requires little work.”

To sign up or for more information, email TomGoodkin@aol.com.

To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb@mac.com.

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