Former employer raffles J.Lo concert tix to help pop star’s old school

Four raffled off J.Lo tickets means Preston High School is $275 closer to fixing its skylight. Here Sebastian Ponce, community affairs director, presents the check to Preston High School Principal Jane Grendell and Gianna Dell’Olio, the school’s director of advancement.
Photo by Aracelis Batista

Jenny from “the block” was nearly Jenny from H&R Block.

And an east Bronx local who shared a cubicle with Jennifer Lopez over two decades ago – back when the international pop icon spent Saturdays filing tax returns at a Castle Hill law firm – decided to give back to J.Lo’s former Throggs Neck high school on the eve of her first-ever Bronx concert.

Anne Connelly and her fellow employees at the Thomas Lavin Law Office – where J.Lo once held a job as a secretary – raised $275 toward fixing a historic skylight at the pop star’s old high school in Throggs Neck by raffling off four tickets to the star’s June 4 show in nearby Pelham Bay Park.

Throggs Neck connect

The money goes toward the ongoing drive to raise $30,000 to repair a historic skylight in the Preston High School “Mansion room.” Preston is still thousands of dollars from reaching that goal, with the deadline moved back from April to August.

But with the $275 check, plus over $400 from a recent See’s Candy chocolate drive and over $500 donated this week from the outgoing senior class, the fundraising is starting to pick up.

“We’re a local business, and Preston is right here. There were all of these connections,” said Connelly, “so we figured we’d do some good.”

J.Lo the lawyer?

J.Lo worked at Thomas Lavin in the mid 1980’s, when the personal injury law firm, now on Bruckner Blvd. in Throggs Neck, had an office on Castle Hill Avenue.

“It’s rare that you know before the person even speaks that you are going to hire her,” said Thomas Lavin. “But that’s how it was with Jennifer.”

Lavin set the young Lopez to work filing tax returns for policemen and firefighters, at one point sending her to take a course at H&R Block. The budding pop star also became a licensed notary.

“I was amazed at what she could pick up in such a small period of time,” said Lavin. “I’m convinced that she would have made a great lawyer.”

Still thousands short

The $275 raised in the raffle boosts Preston High School’s ongoing efforts to rally locals around fixing the stained glass skylight in its Mercedes Hall . The school already has a contractor lined up.

“The window has to be fixed at some point,” said Gianna Dell’Olio, the school’s advancement director.” The question is whether or not it will be restored to its full glory.”

She’s baaaack

Last year, J.Lo showed some love for Preston High School, inviting some of the school’s dancers to appear with her live on the Katie Couric Show.

The pop artist, long criticized for leveraging her borough roots while being a Bronx no-show, has been on a borough media blitz in recent weeks.

Besides the free concert, the pop star – whose store Viva Movil is among the shops opening in the Throggs Neck Shopping Center this summer – teamed with Montefiore Medical Center to open a community health facility.

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at bkochman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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