BAY RIDGE — A packed room of enthusiastic kindergarten through fifth grade students at P.S. 264, the Bay Ridge Elementary School for the Arts, gathered to greet Lt. Gov.Kathy Hochul and members of New York Edge, the largest provider of afterschool programs in the city.
Hochul was there to salute the 20th annual Lights On Afterschool program, which allows schools to stay open after hours, and to celebrate the impact it’s had on children who’ve participated in the program. Hochul and District 20 schools Superintendent Karina Costantino were given a tour of the school by Principal Marisa Bolognino.
Following the tour, they were joined by State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Rachael Gazdick, CEO of New York Edge. They all watched the students, who worked in groups of five or six on their afternoon project, building a free-standing lighthouse tower out of 30 straws and cellophane tape with a tiny light on top.
“At New York Edge, we support 40,000 students in all five boroughs of New York City and over 130 schools,” Gazdick told this paper.
“We just believe in the power of afterschool education and the opportunity to really tap into kids’ gifts and talents in sports, art, STEM and our college access program. We have the largest college access program in the city of New York. So, it’s just an honor to work with these young, bright minds and see them shine and ignite their potential,” she added.
She also explained that New York Edge has transitional centers, with some sites staying open as late as 9 or 10 p.m. so they can meet the needs of children all across the spectrum.
“Do you know what New York Edge means? Do you know what getting an edge means?” Hochul asked. “It means you’re getting ahead of everyone else with the edge you need to be successful in life. Forty thousand of you are being advantaged by New York Edge which is supported by the state of New York,” she explained.
Hochul called the Lights On Afterschool program “a way to keep the lights in your schools after hours, which is where you are now. It allows you to stay here and learn things and have fun with your friends,” she added. Hochul presented New York Edge with a proclamation front the state.
Kindergarten student Grace Lee said she loved the program and especially enjoyed art and coloring. Adrian Ciuzadio said he liked the afterschool sports program and Sophia said she liked both gym and art.
Gounardes walked around and visited with each group of kids. “After school programs are vital to a child’s growth and education,” he told this paper. “That’s why I was happy to go with Lt. Gov.Hochul to visit The New York Edge at P.S. 264 as part of Lights On Afterschool, the national celebration of the importance of afterschool programs in the lives of children and families!”