“I am very proud of PS 101’s heritage, which reflects its academic excellence,” said Principal Monique Paniagua. “We want to continue building our heritage, so hopefully in another 100 years that will be passed on to our next generations.”
Nearly 180 people celebrated the school's centennial and influential role in the community during an event at the Community House on March 15 featuring music, dinner and dance lessons. The festivities marked the launch of a year-long celebration.
On May 20, PS 101 will officially become a Department of Education certified school, followed by the “Celebrating 100 Years of Diversity” international dinner on June 4. Looking ahead, a Centennial Carnival will be held in October, a talent show in November, and an alumni and parents dinner come December.
“It is amazing to be a part of a legacy where thousands of children have gone to our school,” said Parents Association President Soumaly King. “We are academically enriched in a beautiful community, and we are lucky to reach this milestone now.”
In 1914, children from families moving to the rapidly growing Forest Hills attended classes in a four-room frame school nicknamed the “Little Red Schoolhouse.” As the population increased, that grew to a four-story brick completed in 1927 and designed by architect William Gompert.
PS 101 aims to instill a sense of the broader community within its students. After Hurricane Sandy, students assisted young victims by designing blankets, and when Forest Hills Gardens turned 100, the Parents Association coordinated a music gala to reflect the neighborhood’s cultural history.
Other events include the school choir’s performance at the annual Flag Day ceremony on Flagpole Green, a community-sponsored annual essay contest, and visits to the West Side Tennis Club and the Forest Hills firehouse.
“I have a daughter in the 5th grade and two older boys that graduated,” said Cecile Renna. “What makes PS 101 unique is the sense of belonging to a great community, which is diverse in terms of culture and nationality.”
As a Tory Burch employee, Renna helped raise funds for PS 101’s programming by having her company donate a pair of leather purses, scarves, and leather wallets, which were among the live auction’s many items at the centennial celebration.
“The teachers are amazing and really get to know you, and parents have become such great friends,” Renna added. “We have been at the school for 15 years, and when my daughter graduates, it won't be without sadness. I will cherish all the great memories.”