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Basement gets facelift at PS 123, Brooklyn

Coloring their world
New York Teacher
Pat Arnow
Teachers (from left) Lydia Berberena, Mayra Rodriguez, Aridia Cabrera-Castillo, Moschera and Gladys Rodriguez get to work.
This alumna has the whole world — actually, some balled-up masking tape — in her hands.
Pat Arnow
Students help to brighten the basement wall.

Students at PS 123 in Bushwick were not happy about the conditions in their 100-year-old building’s basement, where they spend their recess and lunch time. So, encouraged by special education teacher Judy Moschera, they began to reach out for help through a letter-writing campaign. Student Danelly Espinal’s letter explained that the conditions in the basement make students “feel as though nobody cares about them. This is a very depressing place to have to spend time.” Student Nelissa Vivanco’s letter pointed out that “the color in the basement makes kids grumpy.” Her solution: “We need your help to suggest how we can improve the basement because it is a real problem that needs to be addressed.” Their zeal and persistence paid off with a $10,000 grant from Yellow Pages, with gallons of sunny yellow and springtime green paint, paint brushes, rollers and miles of trimming tape from Benjamin Moore. They also received advice and volunteers from Publicolor, a nonprofit that has helped bring bright colors to public schools throughout the city. Students rolled up their sleeves and — with the help of teachers, parents, alumni and other volunteers, including some construction workers — spent five Saturdays during the fall transforming the ugly gray basement from dreary to cheery. One student described the new environment as “like being in heaven.”

Related Topics: Special Education
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