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Students showcase success

Third-grader Lia Lopez (r.) explains a timeline presentation of her life on display at PS 159's Celebration of Learning. Photo by Phil Corso
TimesLedger Newspapers

They go to school for more than nine months of the year and their work is usually tucked away inside their Bayside classrooms.

But by the end of the year, students at PS 159 enter a gymnasium transformed into an elaborate showcase of their greatest efforts.

The annual Celebration of Learning is a year-end fair and nearly 10-year PS 159 tradition, according to Principal Paul Didio. The 2011 National Blue Ribbon School at 205-01 33rd Ave. in Bayside is also only one of two schools in the district, including Bayside’s PS 162 John Golden, to host such an event.

“It’s pretty amazing to see all of the work on display at once,” Didio said. “I’m thankful that the school upholds the tradition.”

Upon walking into the school’s second-floor gymnasium, the school’s students, parents and faculty marveled at the carefully laid out two pieces of artwork from each of the roughly 535 students. Different subjects were represented throughout various display tables.

Michael Verso, a third-grader at the school, walked proudly to his artwork on the back wall of the gym.

“It feels pretty good to show this to my friends,” Verso said. “This is fun.”

Chiara Scaduto teaches third-grade at the school and said she could see tangible benefits from the annual fair.

“You can actually see the outcomes in the kids’ faces,” Scaduto said. “It’s a big reward for them.”

The fair aims to represent each child at the school from pre-kindergarten to fifth-grade, according to teacher and Celebration of Learning Coordinator Hannah Garson.

“The children are always very proud of themselves and each other,” Garson said. “We choose to put such an emphasis on this because it builds confidence and self-esteem for the students.”

Mock volcanoes, 3-D presentations of the Great Wall of China and timelines of students’ short lives so far were only some of the seemingly endless showcases available throughout the gymnasium.

Throughout the two-day showcase, nearly 75 family members and friends pass through the gallery, parent coordinator Kim Johnson said.

“For the parents, this is completely overwhelming at times,” Johnson said. “To see the work from beginning to end and to see how their children progressed throughout the year makes their day.”

After entering the school’s front entrance, signs and arrows lead the way up the stairs and into the gymnasium, teasing at the different subjects that students had studied throughout the year.

“We want to make sure the children know we’re proud of them, so we put a lot of time into it,” Garson said.

Garson said the faculty stays after hours the day before the fair’s opening to help transform the gym.

But all the work, she said, always pays off in the end.

“It’s quite the project to take on for all of the faculty,” Garson said. “And we still do it because we’re always looking for ways to engage the students.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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