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Project Partners :
The Louis Armstrong Middle School (LAMS) Community Playground was created through a partnership of The Trust for Public Land, The NYC Department of Education, The NYC School Construction Authority and the NY Road Runners.
What started this project?
Several summers back, the School Construction Authority (S.C.A.) visited Louis Armstrong Middle School (L.A.M.S.). During their visit, they reviewed our building and grounds, and spoke with Principal Ponella regarding her concerns and wishes going forward. One of the main topics discussed was the building of a new and vibrant schoolyard for the student body. Seeing as how L.A.M.S. is centrally located in the heart of north-west Queens and is a fixture in the local community, a modern schoolyard for use by both the students and the residents would be an asset for years to come.
The Louis Armstrong Middle School (LAMS) opened in 1979 in collaboration with Queens College. Named to honor the great jazz musician and singer, Louis Armstrong, the purpose of establishing the school was to bring together a culturally diverse group of students from the borough of Queens to educate them academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. Over 35 years later we continue to be firmly committed to this mission! Our students come from over 100 different countries and speak approximately 67 different languages. And as a result of their hard-work and determination, the New York State Department of Education has designated our school as “A New York State Reward School”. Unfortunately, one of the realties facing a highly sought-after school built four decades ago was an aging school yard. Our outdated school yard was riddled with cracks and holes from years of use, resulting in the potential for our students (and the community) to get hurt. As an asset to both the school system and the local community, there was a need to rebuild so to provide for a safe, fun environment, but also with an eye for the future.
The LAMS Sports Complex/Community Playground (designed by the students, staff and community members) now provides a safe place for students and members of the community to go to enjoy sports activities such as basketball, handball, track, soccer, football or volleyball as well as a day of relaxation in the park. This green infrastructure now captures rainwater that once created puddles in the holes of our schoolyard and offers play equipment for our students. The LAMS Sports Complex/Community Playground is also now a part of a plan to have “a park within a 10-minute walk” of every community member.
32-02 Junction Blvd, East Elmhurst, NY, 11369, USA
As part of a larger green infrastructure effort across New York City, a $1.2 million grant was put in place through the office of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, as well as the NY Road Runners Club. The purpose of this grant was to create a vision for a safe, new, green schoolyard and sports complex for use by the students and local community.
The L.A.M.S. Design Team was created in 2017– comprised of teachers, administration, the student body, parents and the surrounding community – with the goal of creating a vision for the new schoolyard. For the students that would part-take in the committee, they were asked to write an essay and explain their reasons for wanting to be a part of this committee and their goal(s) for the project. After the team was selected, the next few months were spent reviewing and surveying the school yard (size, conditions, etc.), and obtaining input from the student body and local community as to what features were most important for them. Along with this input, the design team also visited I.S. 185 in Queens to review their completed schoolyard project, in order to get ideas to incorporate into the L.A.M.S. design. Once all the necessary feedback was obtained and information collected, the team was able to design models of playground ideas. One of the most important and unique features being incorporated into the designs was various student artwork and music themed artwork that was to be painted in the new schoolyard. Once the committee was able to narrow down their models to two designs, the entire student body and staff at L.A.M.S. voted on which schoolyard plan to move forward with.
In June of 2018, we held a ground breaking ceremony at L.A.M.S., and construction of the new community playground was completed in October 2018. Upon completion, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held in celebration of the grand opening of our safe, new, and green L.A.M.S. Sports Complex/Community Playground. One special feature of the celebration was that the current students gathered some special memorabilia to be placed in a time capsule in the gazebo, which will be opened in 2038.
Since the grand opening of the L.A.M.S. Community Playground in October, 2018, the facility has been visited and enjoyed by thousands of students and local residents. On any given school day (weather permitting), the students can be seen enjoying the playground and all it’s amenities during their lunchbreaks. Some of them relax on the benches under the gazebo, while others play on the play equipment. During Physical Education classes, the students enjoy walking and running around the track, competing on the new turf field, and playing on the basketball, volleyball and hand-ball courts. It is refreshing to see students and teachers, whom would normally stay indoors during their lunch breaks, spending their free time enjoying the fresh air in our new schoolyard. And after school hours, the schoolyard is opened to the community where they can now enjoy a safe and relaxing space to sit, read a book, take a walk or run around the track, or play sports. Evangelia Kostas, Sanijida Sultane and Maya Turner are students at Louis Armstrong Middle School who helped generate, create and summarize ideas of their Parkology Project experience and process for this Park Story.
The Trust For Public Land