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New Peck Slip School is 'Amazing', Parents and Students Say

By Irene Plagianos | September 9, 2015 3:34pm
 The new pre-K through 5th grade elementary school opened Wednesday.
Peck Slip School Opens
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LOWER MANHATTAN — There were some jitters and back-to-school blues, but the overwhelming feeling at the Peck Slip School Wednesday morning was excitement.

For the first time, parents and students gathered at their new public elementary school, a former post-office overhauled with $58 million of renovations — and the response was enthusiastic.

“I’m very, very excited,” said 6-year-old Kolten Zink, before making his way to his first day of second grade, wearing a big smile. “It’s a new school!”

Parents and students were greeted by “Welcome” posters , while local officials, including Councilwoman Margaret Chin and State Senator Daniel Squadron, came to congratulate neighborhood parents on the long-anticipated school at 1 Peck Slip.

For nearly three years, the school, with principal Maggie Siena at the helm, was temporarily located at Tweed Courthouse, in makeshift classrooms at the Department of Education headquarters.

It took years of effort from local officials, dedicated parents and community advocates to get a new school built in Lower Manhattan, an area with a growing population of children and increasingly crowded schools. Many in the neighborhood thanked the school overcrowding task force, a group run by embattled State Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, for the consistent push for more space for students. 

The fight for more schools is not done, many parents and advocates said, but Wednesday was a day for celebration.

The six-story school, also known as P.S. 343, opened with pre-K through third grade classes, and will continue to grow until it is at capacity with fifth graders.

“This school is just so wonderful,” said Siena, beaming after chatting with happy parents. “It’s incredibly exciting to have this home for our families.”

The new school includes expansive features that would leave most parents pleased: bright classrooms, a library, dedicated art and science rooms, a large combination gym and auditorium, or “gymatorium” and a spacious rooftop play area, complete with views of the New York Harbor and Lower Manhattan.

There's no dedicated crossing guard yet, something parents have sought as many families cross busy Pearl Street nearby, but Peck Slip is closed to cars during school pick-up and drop-off hours.

"It's been a long time coming, but it's really wonderful to see this school finally finished," said Amanda Byron Zink, a parent of two Peck Slip students, who lives and works a few blocks from the school. "It looks amazing."