Bronx students design rooftop garden, theater

A local councilman and city organization are working together to realize a Bronx school’s dream.

Councilman Ritchie Torres recently announced he will allocate $750,000 to build a rooftop garden and performance space at the Theater Arts Production Company School, the plans for which were developed in a digital design class run by the 92nd Street Y at the school.

On July 29, 92Y Serves partnered with volunteers from Blackstone for a service day at the school, where they built two garden towers and an indoor stage for the arts school, in addition to painting the teacher’s lounge.

The smaller projects offer students a taste of what will come with the eventual rooftop garden and performing space, which will offer opportunities for interdisciplinary learning, said principal Ron Link.

The school plans to use the garden to grow produce for the school’s cafeteria and Part of the Solution’s food services down the street, said Link.

The garden will also provide chances for interdisciplinary educational opportunities in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math fields.

The school already focuses on incorporating STEAM in student projects, said Link, be it creating a music video about exponents or building stage set designs.

“Our teachers are working in a cross-curricular fashion to make the academics relevant,” said Link.

The rooftop garden and performing space will offer even more opportunities to do that, as well as providing beautiful greenspace in a neighborhood where it’s lacking, he said.

And as excited as Link is about the long-term prospects of the rooftop garden, he was equally excited about the projects undertaken by volunteers.

“You’ve got an amalgamation of public and private working hand in hand on things that matter every day to teachers and kids,” said Link.

Councilman Torres also provided support for the partnership between the 92nd Street Y and the school for the digital design class, and said the rooftop garden will provide additional enrichment for the students.

“The students of the Bronx deserve nothing less than a first–class education,” he said.

The digital design class, entering its third year at TAPCo, is helping students get that education.

It allows students to combine STEAM skills with creativity and imagination, said 92Y’s director of educational outreach Larisa Gelman.

It also helps them develop problem-solving skills, and lets them design things that meet their wants and needs, such as the rooftop garden, which students designed renderings for.

“We inspire them to think about their school and their community in what they’re doing,” said Gelman.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at 718-260-4591. E-mail her at

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