By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
P.S. 264, the new elementary school where a ribbon cutting ceremony was held Oct. 3, will be a place where thousands of Bay Ridge children will learn their ABCs now and over the next several decades. But the new school is also teaching an important lesson to architects, according to Lorraine Grillo, president of the New York City School Construction Authority (S.C.A.).
Speaking at the dedication ceremony of the school, Grillo said P.S. 264, at 371 89th St., was built on small piece of land that had once served as the site of a car wash. The experience of planning the school and getting it built taught construction experts that it is possible to build a public school on a small piece of property, Grillo said.
“When we first looked at the size of the lot, people in my agency said, ‘Are you crazy?’ But we did it,” Grillo said.
The P.S. 264 experience will carry over to other projects in School District 20 as architects realize that they don’t have to have large tracts of land on which to plan school buildings, Grillo said. The district covers schools in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and parts of Bensonhurst. “If we have a postage size spot in District 20, we will try to build a school on it. The need here is so great,” she said.
Many of the district’s schools are bursting at the seams with large student enrollments, according to local educational officials, who said more schools will have to be constructed to handle the large numbers of students.
Laurie Windsor, president of the Community Education Council of School District 20, recalled the days when the site was a defunct car wash and she and S.C.A. officials stood on the sidewalk looking at it as a possible place for a school. “To see this project when it was not a project, when it was just a possibility, was amazing. This school is more beautiful than could have been imagined,” she said.
P.S. 264, also known as the Bay Ridge Elementary School for the Arts. Principal Patrice Edison said the school’s mission “is to help every child find a talent hidden within.”
The school has room to accommodate 500 students. When it opened last month, the school welcomed 130 students. The school, which will eventually have classes for children from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade, currently has only the lower grades in the building. As each new school year begins, P.S. 264 will add a new grade.
A new school marks a new beginning in education, Borough President Marty Markowitz said. As he looked around the auditorium at the students, Markowitz urged educators to teach the children foreign language to better prepare them for the future. “This is the time to teach kids another language. This is the age to teach them. Their minds are like sponges,” he said.
Markowitz suggested that such languages as Mandarin, Portuguese, Arabic, and Turkish should be taught. “Those will be the emerging languages of the world,” he predicted, adding that people who speak any of these languages will have an edge in the global marketplace.