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Happy birthday P.S. 108!

Bronx Times
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It was 1937 and FDR was president, gas cost a dime - and the doors for P.S. 108 The Philip J. Abinanti school opened for the first time.

Now, after graduating thousands of kids, the Morris Park elementary school has turned 75 years old.

School staff celebrated its milestone with a special ceremony that included a ribbon cutting of its renovated schoolyard.

Current and former students spoke on behalf of P.S. 108 The Philip J. Abinanti School at the June 6 ceremony at the school on Neill Avenue.

“The road of success first started when I came to P.S. 108,” said fifth grader Miguel Rodriguez, reading from his prepared testimonial.

And while the playground is an example of how much the school has changed, to some much has stayed the same.

For former student Audra Riddle, much of the school’s consistency is embodied in its school spirit.

“The care from the teachers, the prinicpal and staff is the same,” Riddle told the audience.

Now a parent, Riddle said she’s proud to now have both her daughters attend the school.

Known as Audra Archie when she attended, she recalled being a typical kid, always thrilled at getting the same teachers her brothers once had.

After getting married, Riddle and husband Richard settled in Morris Park, unaware their daughters were zoned for P.S. 108.

“Life definitely comes full circle,” said Riddle, now a senior court reporter in the Bronx courts.

The renovated schoolyard, with a jungle gym and artificial turf, was recently built with funding from Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative and Councilman Jimmy Vacca. The two-year project sought input from locals and school staff. A new track, hopscotch design and tennis courts cover the new blacktop.

“Now people can come here, walk the park, take the strollers,” said Cheryl Mooney, who served on the School to Playground Committee, which worked the details of the new yard.

Under the agreement with PlaNYC, school officials will keep the schoolyard open after school and on weekends for the community to enjoy.

Service has been the underlying essence for the school, according vice principal Caren Shapiro. It is named after Philip J. Abinanti, a community activist and educator, who dedicated his life to improving Morris Park.

P.S. 108 recently carried on Abinanti’s tradition of service by holding “Community Day” in April.

The neighborhood, predominantly German and Irish when the school first opened, has seen a wave of immigrants from India, Pakistan, China and the Dominican Republic.

Teacher Robin Miller, who plans to retire this year, sees the school’s growing diversity as a strong component to the school she’s called home for 30 years.

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or email dcruz@cnglocal.com.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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