Members of District 20’s local community board rose to their feet at a Monday, May 18 meeting so that they could give an energy-filled standing ovation to I.S. 201’s Christian Botte.
Botte, an accomplished science teacher at I.S. 201, Dyker Heights Intermediate School for the last 12 years, was lauded for his quick thinking and good judgement when, on Monday, April 20, a portion of a wall with two large windows caved in on a fourth floor classroom.
Botte, in the classroom at the time of the collapse, trusted his gut and rushed his seventh-grade students to safety before the wall could cave in on top of them.
“All of a sudden there was a really strange noise, sort of a giant creaking noise,” said Botte in an article published by the United Federation of Teachers. “At that point I just screamed at everybody to get away from the wall . . . It was just instinct that takes over to take care of the kids.”
Both Botte and I.S. 201 Principal Robert Ciulla (an I.S. 201 alum himself) were given the honor of leading the board in the Pledge of Allegiance – a monthly tradition at CB 10. In addition, the pair was awarded with plaques from the board and official citations from Councilmember Vincent Gentile.
“Certainly a tragedy was avoided that day thanks to the quick thinking of Mr. Botte,” said CB 10 Chair Brian Kieran.
“I too want to commend Mr. Botte and Principal Ciulla for their leadership,” noted Gentile, congratulating Botte for his “heroic efforts in leading [his] students to safety” and Ciulla for his “leadership in handling an emergency situation.
“Certainly if you saw the size of that wall, you know that it was indeed an emergency situation,” concluded Gentile who, in the wake of the wall collapse, has called on the Department of Buildings to conduct an audit of all 1,700 public schools currently under construction citywide.