Parent Volunteers and teacher give St. Benedict School in Throggs Neck a makeover

The passion of one of St. Benedict School’s teachers and many of its parents is infectious.

That was the message of Father Stephen Norton, the pastor of St. Benedict’s Church and School, as he spoke of the efforts of parents and the school’s middle school social studies teacher and sports program director to spruce up the gym and the school’s hallways and build school spirit over the past school year.

The teacher, Ben Piacquadio, coordinated a fundraiser, selling t-shirts with the St. Ben’s Raven logo. The money raised went to refurbishing the gym floor, he said.

After that, with a group of concerned parents and the principal’s blessing, he also coordinated an all-volunteer group that painted the hallways the school’s colors: navy blue and gray.

“His heart is there at St. Benedict’s, and that is a major part of the gift for us,” said Norton of Piacquadio, who is also a St. Ben’s school alum. “This is his love and enthusiasm for his alma mater, and the place he finds himself as a teacher and sports coach.”

Norton added: “His enthusiasm, I believe, has been infectious with the parents who turn around and ask how can they help. The painting, the sprucing up, and bringing life into St. Benedict’s School is a real positive in terms of the parents being supportive, and the faculty, parents and students getting actively involved.”

A group of parent volunteers who were working on painting parts of the gym to match the work done on the floor came up with the idea to paint the hallways the school colors.

The paint was provided by the school after parents and Piacquadio approached principal Carole Arbolino. Many parents helped, said Piacquadio.

“They worked tirelessly for many long days to improve the scenery of the school,” he said. “After the hallways were painted, the school’s Parent Organization along with the sports program replaced the light fixtures in the hallways to make the hallways much brighter.”

The new color scheme has the added benefit of not showing much wear and tear, said Piacquadio.

“The hallways had white walls, and with the children leaning up against the walls, there were marks on them,” he said. “Now with the darker paint, it doesn’t show marks from children leaning up against the wall.”

One of the parents who helped in the effort, Hank Livia, 48, said that some of the other teachers at the school also pitched in. The core of the volunteers was a group of parents involved in the school’s volleyball program, he added. In addition to being a parent, Livia said he also works at St. Benedict’s.

“It is making the school brighter and vibrant,” he said of the changes. “It is looking like a new school again.”

Piacquadio also volunteered on a 2010 refurbishment of the St. Benedict’s gym. Livia said that more is in the works.

“Little by little, things are happening,” he said.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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