Feature stories

Hats off to Queens school

Gives back to community by staging cancer fundraiser

Teacher Rachel Mansdorf and her 5th-grade students show off their colorful hats.Miller PhotographyTeacher Rachel Mansdorf and her 5th-grade students show off their colorful hats.

Who says you can’t wear hats in school? Students at PS 55 in Richmond Hill, Queens, enjoyed breaking the time-honored “no hats in school” rule, covering their heads all day inside the building and enjoying a hat parade outside, all for a good cause.

It was part of the school’s Oct. 6 fundraiser for Heavenly Hats, an organization that helps cancer patients by providing them with wigs, scarves, hats and other forms of head coverings.

“We want students to show good citizenship and learn to give back to the community,” said Michelle Weintraub, an art teacher who organized the inaugural event. She was inspired by the new Passport to Social Studies curriculum, which emphasizes the values of community involvement, global thinking and good citizenship.

All 400 students at PS 55, from pre-K through grade 5, took part enthusiastically.

Teacher Regine Jasmin and her pre-K class march around the school’s perimeter inMiller PhotographyTeacher Regine Jasmin and her pre-K class march around the school’s perimeter in their unique creations. Fifth-graders get ready to march with their teacher, Kimberly Constantine.Miller PhotographyFifth-graders get ready to march with their teacher, Kimberly Constantine.

“The students loved it,” said pre-K teacher Regine Jasmin, explaining how the lower grades marched together around the building playing triangles, cymbals and maracas, as parents watched and cheered them on, admiring the imaginative hats they helped create. There were ball caps and conical hats, hats featuring eyes and hats with critters attached, homemade hats and store-bought hats, plus caps proclaiming support for the cause.

Students hold their class posters.Miller PhotographyStudents hold their class posters. Teacher Christine DiAkonikolas poses with her student.Miller PhotographyTeacher Christine DiAkonikolas poses with her student.

“We’ve been working on sharing and taking care of each other, and this was a great message for all of us,” Jasmin said. “It’s teaching the kids empathy, and they’re learning they can do something to help others.”

Weintraub worked with the students to make class posters to publicize the event. “They were so happy to be involved and to lend their artistic ability to a school function. The sense of community was really good, and parents were astonished to see the posters,” she said.

At the end of the day, $623 had been raised, according to Weintraub.

“We’ll make this an annual event at PS 55,” Weintraub said. “Everyone was involved, and students felt a sense of community — it felt really good to do something for others.”

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