PS 77 Learns About International Year of Freshwater
This was truly a case of "Everything you wanted to know about water but were afraid to ask."
To commemorate The International Year of Freshwater, the students of Brooklyn's P.S. 77 inundated their auditorium with a plethora of imaginative projects. The walls reflected a true East-meets-West worldview: a project dealing with Holland celebrated the nation's use of bicycles-this refreshingly non-pollutant way of transportation keeps the water and the air clean. In Zimbabwe, water protects the nation's crops from drought. Italy's industry has unusually interesting uses for water. The projects dealt with everything from water pollution (and the resulting environmental dangers), the importance of saving water, the protection of oceans, water quality, the different uses of water, water as a source of life, water standards on different continents, etc.
These projects were made even more special when you consider that the students of P.S. 77 are autistic. "They've been working on this exhibition for months," principal Ivy Sterling said. "I can't tell you how proud I am of my kids."
The apex of the celebration was a special United Nations Assembly, which culminated in a lengthy program that featured everyone from professional artists (opera tenor Abraham Singer brought the house down with his Italian arias), to talent imported from other schools (Tottenham high school's brilliant violinist Arsenio Perez), to home-grown talent (Irish step-dancer Justine Kinsky is the daughter of a P.S. 77 teacher), to P.S. 77 students who danced to "What A Wonderful World", then sang everything from "The Flower Of China"(in Chinese!), to "Hero" to "Getting to Know You" to a rendition of "We Are The World". Blues singer-percussionist Eugene Osborne Smith, whom assistant principal Elizabeth DiFrencesco met at B.B. King's club, summed up the afternoon with his soulful performance. "Water is everywhere," he said." And wherever there's water, there's life."
"This is our third UN-themed Assembly," Sterling said. "In this school, we have children from all kinds of different backgrounds. It is very important that they learn about unity and different cultures-and the United Nations is an integral part of that."
One of the projects on the wall quoted UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan: "Lack of access to water-for drinking, hygiene and food security-inflicts enormous hardships on more than a billion members of the human family. Water is likely to become a growing source of tension and fierce competition between nations, if present trends continue, but it can also be a catalyst for cooperation. The International Year of Freshwater can play a vital role in generating the action needed-not only by governments but also by civil society, communities, the business sector, and individuals all over the world."
It's safe to say that The International Year of Freshwater, which will not be officially launched until Dec. 12, got off to a rousing head-start at P.S. 77.#