A few months ago, while sitting in the auditorium of P.S. 72 for a theatre performance, a parent leaned back in her chair and ended up falling into the lap of the man behind her. The chairs had virtually no backs. They were also creaky, loud, and even scary to sit in.
“Your chair became a mousetrap when it folded forward,” said Louise Macrino, an art teacher.
None of that will ever happen again, after the school just put in brand new seats and flooring.
Chairs at the P.S. 72 auditorium are now of a clean, dark wood. They open quietly and close slowly on their own once you stand up. There is also a smooth, white and blue floor with no dings, dents or ruptures. In a special assembly Friday morning, May 28, students and teachers gathered in the auditorium to celebrate. Only those few classes that had the best attendance percentages were given the pleasure of attending. The school brought these same students — those who have a 99 or 100% attendance rate this year — to see “Mary Poppins” on Broadway last week. Parents went as well, and the entire group, three buses of 52 people each, were already anticipating the auditorium event.
The funding for the auditorium work came from Councilman James Vacca, who the children thanked in an hour-long tribute.
“Whenever we get up now, the chairs close quietly,” said one little girl in a slideshow video. “We love them.”
Vacca was honored with a song (“Help,” by the Beatles, with some new lyrics), a dance by the P.S. 72 Hypnotics cheerleaders, and his own seat in the front row of the auditorium. The chair has a small engraving that reads, “Dedicated to Councilman James Vacca 2010.”
Positive Behavior Intervention Support, a state program that helps schools create a positive social environment, was implemented to prepare P.S. 72 students for the assembly and encourage happy attitudes.
“I wanted this to be big and real,” said principal Margarita Colon.
Colon mentioned that the auditorium help first began a year ago when Vacca was at the school for a different purpose, and she was bold enough to whisper in his ear that the seats were falling apart, and that the school could use new ones. It worked, and he got on the case.
“I told the PBIS people, and the students, and Jimmy, that we had to go big with this.”
Vacca could only smile and joke: “I’m going to stay here forever now, sitting in my special chair.”
Macrino, who went to P.S. 72 as a student long before teaching there, said this day was especially exciting for her. When she was here 43 years ago, “the seats were squeaky even then! Now, in 2010, they’re beautiful,” she said.