Parents Cheer the Opening of Seaport's New Peck Slip School
“I’m going to ring the bell and it's going to be time for kids to line up,” Principal Maggie Siena shouted to the excited parents and children who had crowded in front of her. “So here we go!’
Siena rang the bell as cheers and applause from parents rang out even louder, signaling not only the first day of school, but the first day of this brand new school, P.S. 343, the Peck Slip School.
With two floors added to what had been the four-story Peck Slip Post Office, the school sports a sixth-floor rooftop play area with panoramic views of Lower Manhattan, science and art classrooms, a expansive ground floor cafeteria, spacious, well-appointed classrooms and library, and a fifth-floor “gymatorium” that doubles as both performance space with stage and gym.
Now pre-k to third grade, P.S. 343 will grow into a full 712-seat elementary school over the coming years.
“Awesome, oh my God,” exclaimed Tom Berton, the father of a kindergartner and first grader at the school. “I snuck into the gym and I went up to the roof to see the outdoor area. Wow!”
Michael Mirisola, a School Construction Authority official, stood among the chattering parents, a silent observer. “It’s the best day of my year,” said Mirisola, who noted that this is one of 18 (non-pre-k) new public schools or school additions that are opening in the city this year. “I watch the parents and the kids and everybody’s happy on the first day. This is a gorgeous new facility.”
For Siena, whose school has been housed in Tweed Courthouse, the Department of Education headquarters, for the past three years, this day “feels like a homecoming.”
Standing outside the new school, she beamed. Along with her staff, she wore a grey Seaport-themed t-shirt with anchor on the front and “CREW” on the back.
“Every time I get stressed out, I decorate a room and I feel much better,” the principal said between hugs from parents. “It’s like getting the most fabulous doll house in the world.”