Back to school, the 2018 edition



The Midtown Gazette went back to school with students all over the neighborhood — from 14th Street up to Lincoln Center, from Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River. Here’s what people are thinking about, beyond the heat and humidity.

Easy math: school bus + taxis = gridlock

P.S. 51 Elias Howe School

525 West 44th Street

Pre-K, K-5

Elba Maldez pulls up at the Elias Howe School entrance to let students out on their first day back at school. Photo: Christina Shaman.

By Christina Shaman, Tamara Saade, and Sophia Ahmadi

As lines of school buses arrive for the morning drop-off at Elias Howe, taxis beep in the background, unable to pass through. “We need space on the street,” says bus driver Elba Maldez, adding that the afternoon is worse than the morning. It’s her first time driving this particular route. Angel Barhona, owner of a taxi garage across the street, says that traffic is better when school is not in session.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice — and attend Elias Howe

Michelle Parris shows a picture of her daughter in her performance attire for a Carnegie Hall concert. Photo: Christina Shaman.

“We are all very excited to see what the new year will bring,” says Michelle Parris, who has a six-year-old and an eight-year-old at Elias Howe. Last spring they were part of a group that performed “Yes we can,” a song composed by kindergarten students, at Carnegie Hall, and got to sing alongside award-winning Broadway artists. “I love their after-school program,” Parris said. “They really help and encourage the children.”

Safety first: on everyone’s back to school list

Beacon High School

522 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

Grades 9-12

Beacon High School is located in Hell’s Kitchen on 44th Street and 10th Avenue. Photo: Tamara Saade.

Beacon High School is located in Hell’s Kitchen on 44th Street and 10th Avenue. Photo: Tamara Saade.

“I don’t feel safe anymore,” says Destiny Howell, a senior at Beacon High School, referencing recent school shootings around the country. According to Howell, the school plans to install metal detectors by 2019. Tasnim Kahoon, another senior, disagrees. She feels safe because there’s a fire department nearby, and says extra security measures, beyond the ID checks already in place, would make students late. “People are more afraid now because they do lockdowns,” Kahoon says, “but the windows aren’t bullet proof, so what’s the point?”

An eye on the prize

Destiny Howell, pictured above, is a senior at Beacon High School. She is planning to stay in New York for college. Photo: Tamara Saade.

For seniors at Beacon High, the first day of class is of little concern compared to what’s in store after graduation. I’m so stressed out about college, applications, the essays,” Tasnim Kahoon said. “That’s the only thing that’s on my mind right now.” After arriving three hours too early to pick up her schedule, Howell left to work on her applications. “I’m just excited for a new chapter in my life,” she said.


Back to school is every day for children with autism

Atlas School / Atlas Foundation for Autism
252 W 29th St

Ages 7 – 21

Preparations at the year-round Atlas School for students with autism. Photo: Janet Lie.


A quiet room for students with autism at the Atlas School. Photo: Janet Lie.

By Akintunde Ahmad, Janet Lie and Nicole Soviero

While other schools were closed for the summer, The Atlas School for children with autism was open every day. “For our children, it’s hard to suddenly have a lot of free time,” says co-founder and director Amanda Friedmann. “They miss the structure of school and the comfort of being with their friends.” The students play in the gym, also called the Sensory Room. When they need a break to do mindfulness, the lights dim and the room turns into a mini silent disco.


Bearing witness

Park West Educational Campus

525 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

Grades 9-12

Lorn Cadore, school safety agent, is part of a team working at Park West Educational Campus. Photo: Emily Paulin.

By Jess Nelson, Emaad Akhtar, and Emily Paulin

School Safety Agent Lorn Cadore, an 11-year veteran of the NYPD School Safety Division, marked the first day of school Wednesday by directing more than 4,000 students into the five high schools located within the Park West Educational Campus in Hell’s Kitchen. Cadore recognizes that new students “don’t know where to go,” so it’s his job to “come outside, interact with them, and welcome them.” His passion for his job gets him through the morning heat. “Sometimes you see some of the kids go on to graduate and become doctors, lawyers, and cops,” he says. “It’s amazing.”

Cooking up a recipe for success 

Food and Finance High School

525 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

Grades 9-12

The junior culinary kitchen at Food and Finance High School. Executive chef Suzanne Cupps of Untitled Restaurant at the Whitney Museum took part in a recent guest chef program. Photo: Emily Paulin.

Around 350 teenagers representing New York’s five boroughs attend the school. “Students work in top restaurants in the city through our paid internship program,” said Eliza Loehr, executive director of the Food Education Fund, which supports the school.

The school houses an aquaculture lab with 40,000 tilapia and a greenhouse with over an acre of basil and greens that students use in classes.

“It’s as local as you can get,” said Loehr.


Students in, “bad people” out

Professional Children’s School

132 W 60th St, New York, NY 10023

Grades 6-12

Tony Rodriguez, security guard, inside the Professional Children’s School. Photo: Lizzie Mulvey.

By Lizzie Mulvey, Sophie Ladanyi, and Martin Rather

Tony Rodriguez is a security guard at Professional Children’s School. He begins his morning at the side entrance of the school, taking in packages and deliveries, where he cheerfully greets parents, students, and deliverymen. After chatting with a co-worker about his excitement that ribs are available for lunch, he makes his way to the front door at 8:30. Rodriguez feels that PCS “is a safe school,” and it is his job to keep it that way. “We  got to keep the bad people out,” he says.

Flex-scheduling for fast-track students

George Renalli and Dr. Anne Valentino in front of Professional Children’s School. Photo: Martin Rather.

Professional Children’s School, located at 132 West 60th Street, is a private school serving students from grades 6-12, catering to aspiring dancers, musicians, models, and athletes. Parents George Renalli, an architect, and Dr. Anne Valentino, a psychologist, dropped off their son for the first day of high school.

“We love the school. Our son is an actor and an entrepreneur. The school expects to accommodate students’ schedules,” said Dr. Valentino, in terms of flexibility when it comes to attendance. “The school aligns to state requirements, but there are a lot of ways of interpreting that.”

Study. Audition. Act. Study. Repeat.

P.S. 191- The Riverside School for Makers and Artists

300 W 61st St, New York, NY 10023

Pre-K through Grade 8

Ursula and Maria Santiago in front of P.S. 191 The Riverside School for Makers and Artists. Photo: Lizzie Mulvey.

Families and teachers gather in front of P.S. 191 as students prepare to start their first day of classes. P.S. 191 has taken on a new name, The Riverside School for Makers and Artists, and moved into a new, state-of-the-art building this year. Ursula Santiago and her daughter, eighth-grader Maria, a child actor, grin as they talk about the school. “She is able to take time off for performances as long as we provide the school with supporting documents that prove why she was absent,” Ms. Santiago says. “The school is very strict.”


Kal Pulputi and family in front of P.S. 191: The Riverside School for Makers and Artists. Photo: Lizzie Mulvey.

Kal Pulputi watches as his wife takes photos of their son, who is starting  at P.S. 191, The Riverside School or Makers and Artists. Pulputi is pleased with the school, despite its reputation for lower academic achievement, and endorses a strict policy that keeps attendance high at 91 percent.“The school notifies the parents on how many classes they have missed,” he says. “They mark it down on their report card, letting me know the maximum number of absences allowed. They caution and give a warning when a student’s percentage goes down. They even intimidated me one time.”

Plenty of teachers to go around

The Sixth Avenue Elementary School (PS 340)

64 W. 17th Street

Pre-K through 4th grade

Students get off a school bus and line up outside Sixth Avenue Elementary School waiting to enter the building on the first day of school. Photo: India Duke.

By India Duke, Briana DeJesus-Banos, Andrew Karpinski

On September 5th, parents lined up down the block of 17th street to drop their children at The Sixth Avenue Elementary School. The school opened in 2014 and houses pre-K to 4th grade students interested in science. A parent waiting outside applauds the school’s efforts to integrate all types of students while maintaining a fairly small student-teacher ratio, compared to other schools in the area.

A traffic-free zone to start the school year

PS 11 William T. Harris School

320 West 21st Street

Grades: K-5

Parents walk their children to William T. Harris School on 21st Street to say goodbye on the first day of school. Photo: Andrew Karpinski.

On the first day of school there are colorful balloons strung on the railings of P.S 11, the William T. Harris Elementary School. With 21st Street and 8th Avenue blocked off, children and parents are free to walk where they please. A mural of children wraps around the bottom half of the school, serving as a back drop for school pictures. Parents line up along the fence to the 2nd through 5th grade entrance to wave goodbye.