Benedetto celebrates women’s history at P.S. 71

Benedetto celebrates women’s history at P.S. 71
Assemblyman Benedetto is pictured speaking to P.S. 71 students about the importance of women’s history on Friday, March 16. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto took a break from the budget grind in Albany to pay a visit to students at P.S. 71 who accepted his challenge to learn more about women’s history.

P.S. 71’s sixth grade art students, under the direction of longtime art teacher Debbi O’Gara, created drawings and short summaries of the life of important women from history, from Sonia Sotomayor to Shirley Chisholm, O’Gara said.

The project was part of a program sponsored by Assemblyman Benedetto that sent materials to schools throughout his district to assist teachers in instructing students about women’s history.

“Assemblyman Michael Benedetto was sponsoring a contest called Women in History, and as part of the final activity, the students had to choose a woman from history, sketch her picture and then write a couple of sentences as to why they choose that particular woman,” O’Gara said.

A popular choice among the students was Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who grew up in nearby Soundview, said O’Gara, a 28-year veteran art teacher. With Sotomayor, many children focused on how her educational attainment helped her reach a position on the highest court in America, O’Gara said.

“It exposes children to something that they normally would not talk about,” O’Gara said. “The young people normally don’t have to actually sit and choose someone from history that they admire. The project gave them goals and showed that women can succeed and make a path in history.”

Benedetto was impressed by the students’ work after it was sent to his office, and he visited with the sixth grade on Friday, March 16. Seeing the students creations raised his spirits after returning from budget negotiations, he said.

“As a former teacher, I am always excited to get back to dealing with kids again,” Benedetto said. “I just had a ball for the hour that I was with the kids at P.S. 71 and talking to them about what I do and about great women from history.”

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