QUEENS — Kids from P.S. 101 spent Tuesday maypole dancing and racing in soapbox cars to celebrate the 100th anniversary of The School in the Gardens.
Throughout the day boys wore knickers with suspenders and girls donned long skirts. Teachers and parents also wore outfits from the early 20th century.
A barbershop band performed and kids watched silent films featuring Charlie Chaplin.
“It’s exciting to celebrate the legacy that P.S. 101 has of community and educational excellence,” said principal Monique Lopez-Paniagua.
The kids, she said, have been getting ready for the event for months, researching old customs and history. Fifth graders prepared a timeline and sixth graders built a time capsule.
“The students could understand where they come from because they are part of this and I believe they grasped what it meant to celebrate 100 years of excellence," said Lopez-Paniagua.
Abigail, 10, a fourth grader at the school, said that her research group was studying children’s chores. She said she was surprised to find out, that a century ago most chores were done by girls, who had to mop floors, feed chickens and take water from wells.
“They really know what hard work is,” she said about kids who lived 100 years ago. “Even their games are hard, like the maypole.”
Ann Kittredge, whose son attends fourth grade, came up with the idea of the centennial celebrations about 4 years ago, when Forest Hills Gardens was celebrating its 100th anniversary.
While doing research for that event, she said, she found out that the school, which moved to the current building in 1927, and had celebrated that year as its founding for decades, had actually had a temporary building before, which was used since 1914.
“What we wanted to get out of this day is for the kids to learn so much about history without knowing it,” she said.
William Callahan, 80, graduated in June 1947. Callahan, a lawyer, said that he still remembers when a dozen of orphans from England were brought to study at the school. Those were "the war years," said Callahan, who still lives in the neighborhood. "It was very tough."
The school said it also takes pride in its numerous renowned alumni, including songwriter and composer Burt Bacharach, Chieli Minucci, a jazz musician, and actor and director, John Cassavetes.