I.S. 192 student helps honor school’s legacy

(L-r) I.S. 192 Piagentini-Jones School parent coordinator Veronica Brugman, principal Jeanette Vargas, and guidance counselor Jennifer Perugini, with student Dakota Fleigelman (center), who spearheaded efforts to honor the 37th anniversary death of her school’s namesake. In the background display case, one can see the medals awarded the two officers who were killed in the line of duty. - Photo by Adam Bermudez

A simple act of curiosity led one I.S. 192 student to honor the two police officers, Joseph A. Piagentini and Waverly M. Jones, whose names adorn the school, in a fitting tribute to their lives. 

Dakota Fliegelman, who attends the Throggs Neck school’s Journalism and Government Academy, decided that before she graduated next year, she would learn all she could about the heroes who were killed in the line of duty 37 years ago.  She then went one step further to preserve the school’s namesake. 

“Everyday, walking past the display case that also honors the two officers, I noticed how dusty it was, and came up with the idea to honor these brave officers,” Fleigelman said, noting that an unkempt display case was no way to honor Piagentini and Jones, whose belongings were kept inside. 

The school newspaper’s features editor, wrote in an essay about the officers. “I, Dakota C. Fliegelman, am volunteering to clean out the display case that has their awards and belongings.  I will wipe down the awards and clean off the dusty hats.”

Her simple act of kindness led to a remembrance ceremony honoring the 37th anniversary of the two officers’ deaths.  Members of the 32nd Precinct, along with Piagentini’s widow, his two daughters and granddaughter, Police Benevolence Association representatives and students attended a rededication ceremony for the display case on Wednesday, May 21, at the Hollywood Avenue school.

Killed on the night of May 21, 1971, Piagentini, 28, and Jones, 33, were shot from behind by members of the Black Liberation Army, with Piagentini receiving 13 gun shots and Jones taking a shot to the head that killed him instantly on a Harlem street.  Both served with the NYPD for five years and are survived by their wives and children. 

Unfortunately, members of Jones family could not be found in time for the ceremony. But through the efforts of the school’s parent coordinator Veronica Brugman, they have since been located and notified of the recent honor. 

Brugman notes that Fliegelman’s kind act allowed students, who pass by the display case every day and identify their school on test papers, to finally understand the history of the men I.S. 192 is named for.

The seventh-grader hoped to spread the message of their valiant service to the city to her classmates, and wrote, “By taking the time and writing about them, other students like myself will know these were honorable and brave men who died in the line of duty protecting us.”

Recognized for her creative idea and hard work, Fliegelman was presented with a citizenship award.  A plaque now sits in the display case that honors her awareness campaign, along with the officer’s accolades and photos. 

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