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Backpacks and balloons: Back to school in Brooklyn

High-fives at P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights

September 4, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Finn, age 3, Avril, age 8 and Delilah, age 7, at P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights with mom Heather.
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More than one million kids streamed through the doors of New York City public schools Thursday morning, where they were greeted by teachers and administration for the start of the new school year.

At a community-based preschool in East New York, Inner Force Tots, Mayor Bill de Blasio, on a five borough tour with Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, called the enrollment of more than 50,000 children in pre-K, “a historic achievement, something that’s never been seen in any city in the country before.”

The city’s Department of Education (DOE) said 51,500 full-day pre-K students were enrolled as of Thursday, up from 20,000 last year, and expect enrollment to jump to 53,000 by the end of the month.

DOE said earlier this week that nine pre-K centers wouldn’t open and start dates of 36 others would be delayed due to safety concerns. The city is working on relocating the children affected.

At P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights, Principal Seth Phillips greeted parents and gave high-fives to kids streaming up the stairs of the popular Brooklyn Heights elementary school. The school was shrouded in scaffolding and construction netting, but colorful balloons were tied to the support poles.

“How are you? Happy first day of school. Nice dress! Please exit through the front starting tomorrow,” he said as the crowd pushed up the stairs.

“It’s been a long summer of construction and we’ve really worked hard the last two days getting everything ready for our parents,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle. “We feel good, and our teachers and custodial staff did a tremendous job. It was a lot of work to get ready.”

Phillips added that at the M.S. 8 middle school in Downtown Brooklyn, “We probably have the most robust group of sixth-graders that we’ve ever had, enrollment wise, and we’re looking forward to growing even further.”

Fourth-grader Natalia Akailu said she was looking forward to the start of the new school year with teacher Kate Naaman. “My favorite subject is science,” she volunteered.

Mom Nancy Webster said that her son, Ward Archer, age 10, is entering fifth grade this year, and his favorite subject is also science. “He started back in pre-K and it’s his last year here on Hicks Street,” she said.

Ward Archer’s older brother also attended P.S. 8, Webster said. “We’ve had such a wonderful experience at P.S. 8 with the children here for the past 12 years. “We’re super excited with the middle school opening because otherwise this would have been our last year with the school, and now we get to continue on.”

First-grader Ivo Pelusi, with his mom Kaja Perina, told this reporter that he was “hoping to study about how the universe existed.”

“I really am a physicist right now,” he said. “And I’m very interested in bosons, which are subatomic particles.” Ivo also said that he likes recess “a lot.”


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