Volume 20, Number 41 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Feb. 22 - 28 , 2008

Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert

During a recent brainstorming session on the proposed green school, Mansur Bajinan, 10, told Battery Park City Authority officials that he wanted the school to have a computer room and better lunches. He later said the authority’s snacks showed they knew what he was talking about.

Students bounce school ideas off the powers that be

After hearing that Battery Park City is getting a new school at Site 2B, several students at P.S. 89 decided to take a crack at designing it. They recently presented their plans, sketched on tracing paper, to Stephanie Gelb, vice president of design for the Battery Park City Authority.

“We’re kids and we know what kids of the future might feel,” said 10-year-old Abagel Cheng. Her design included a cafeteria with lots of small tables, to let students sit with their friends. She also said the playground should have grass, so kids can play without getting hurt.

“These are great ideas,” Gelb replied. “We’re really going to think about that.”

The governor and mayor announced at the end of last year that the city’s first green school — a 950-seat pre K- 8 — would be built at the south end of B.P.C.

The half-dozen fourth and fifth graders form P.S. 89’s Junior Youth Council, a group created by New York University undergrad student Jennifer Gonda as part of Manhattan Youth’s after-school programs. Gonda taught the students about solving community problems.

“We learned how community action helps people,” said Alex Zollo, 11. His designs featured motion-sensor lights, solar-powered fans and a large library.

The kids presented in B.P.C.A. Chairperson James Gill’s corner office on the 24th floor of the World Financial Center. They gaped at the sweeping view of the skyscrapers on Manhattan’s tip, surrounded by water, bridges and the Statue of Liberty.

“The principal’s office doesn’t even look like this,” said David Sack, 10. The students asked if Gov. Elliot Spitzer had ever been in the office, and if so, where he sat. Gelb replied that Spitzer just stood and had his picture taken.

The students’ No. 1 complaint about P.S. 89 was the cafeteria food, but David had one good thing to say about 89’s cafeteria: “There are no windows, so if we need to take shelter, everyone could fit,” he said.

— Julie Shapiro

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