Sunset Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, June 23, 2003


Although public school does not officially end until June 27, on Tuesday, June 17, 75 afterschool teachers, recreation center managers, and recreation chiefs gathered at Carmine Recreation Center to celebrate the end of the "afterschool year." The event was also a graduation and awards ceremony for staff members who have participated in Parks & Recreation’s professional training opportunities during the school year. Together, they looked back at a year of afterschool programming, marveling at some of the programs they managed to pull off.

Each year, Parks & Recreation offers its after-school staff the chance to improve their teaching and management skills in a number of seminars and workshops. Over the course of the past year Parks & Recreation offered a number of short classes including: an orientation session for all staff at the start of the year; a training session in working with special-needs children, led by the Center for Arts Education; a training session in effective communication with parents, led by the YMCA; a training session in stress reduction techniques for children and adults, led by a certified yoga instructor; and a training in identifying and reporting child abuse, led by the Administration for Children’s Services. Parks & Recreation also offered long-term classes for staff who wanted to hone their teaching skills in a particular subject area. Parks & Recreation’s Drama Specialist Rosemary Hochschild taught a class in drama; Art Specialist Jennifer Jarrell offered a class in teaching visual art, Sports Specialist Joe Russo offered a sports programming class; and Computer Resource Center Director Ariel Behr taught a computer literacy class.

This year Parks & Recreation focused particular attention on how staff follow up on the training they receive. For example, to practice lessons learned in the YMCA’s "Effective Communication with Parents" training, staff at every afterschool site held an event for afterschool parents. In recreation centers across all five boroughs, Parents’ Nights took many forms. Hamilton Fish Recreation Center hosted a bingo night for parents, while Hunt’s Point held a traditional working meeting. At Sunset Park, parents were invited to a children’s dance performance and at Jennifer’s Playground parents watched their children compete in a talent show. At Detective Keith Williams Recreation Center, parents and children completed an art project together.

The most ambitious follow-up project was completed by eight students in Rosemary Hochschild’s drama class. For their final assignment, each afterschool staff member was asked to direct one scene and a song or dance from the musical, The Wiz. With guidance from Rosemary, each center wrote an adaptation of their scene and directed the children at their center. On Friday, May 23, 130 children from eight different recreation centers across three boroughs performed The Wiz at Arsenal North’s Heckscher Theatre to a packed house of over 400 parents and friends. It was the first taste of the theater world for many of the children and staff members, most of whom had no performing or directing experience. Tuwanda Ruffin, a first time director from Hunt’s Point Recreation Center, said the experience was "a lot of hard work that all paid off. I thought I didn’t know what I was doing, but then the kids performed so well that I guess I did." Tuwanda went on to say that the program was such a success that she’s considering directing an entire production of The Wiz in the fall.

As Parks Recreation’s afterschool staff learned this year, the most exciting part of learning new things is taking that knowledge out of the classroom and into the world, or in the case of Parks and Recreation’s afterschool program, back into the classroom.


Last Saturday, a storm took over New York City and there was total of 109 Parks & Recreation emergencies, including 45 trees down (six on houses), 20 large hanging limbs, 44 limbs or parts of trees down. Instrumental to our response to these emergencies was Director of Landscape Management for Queens Joe Bonkowski and Parks & Recreation Manager Eric Goetz.

According to Queens Borough Commissioner, "Bonkowski and Goetz are unsung heroes. They worked through the night and were back out there the next day. They both do their jobs and they do them well."

Tragically lost in the storm was a large oak over 200 years old that fell onto 3 houses in Jamaica Estates. It took eight 30-yard full truck containers to clear debris from this tree alone. Greenhouse and Garage crews assisted Queens Forestry on Saturday with loading and transporting debris from most sites. Queens Forestry continued clean-up until Tuesday and are now back on regular removal schedule.

Great work!


"You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements."

Norman Douglas


Directions to Sunset Park

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