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"I don't think a day goes by that I don't think, what would Leonard say, what would Leonard do?" said state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Whitestone), his widowed wife and successor in office.
She was joined by state Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik (D-Flushing), City Councilmen John Liu (D-Flushing) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside), Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside), and District 25 Manager Arlene Fleishman, to name a few.
"I'm going to be a little selfish and say this is my baby," Fleishman said of the early education center, which opened in 2001 at 136-11 36th Rd. in Flushing. "I filmed and took pictures of this from the hole in the ground to this building."
She said she met Leonard Stavisky when she was a PTA member and was inspired by his devotion to education.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, said the school was made possible through the efforts of many dedicated parties.
"This school is an oasis where parents, principals, teachers work together," she said. "It does take a village to make a school work. What better fitting tribute to Leonard Stavisky to have a school ... that works so well named after him."
Between speeches second-grade classes took the stage to perform songs like "What a Wonderful World" and "Stand By Me."
Borough President Helen Marshall, a former early education teacher herself, said the school reflected Leonard Stavisky's mission as a politician.
"Leonard was indeed an educator, not only did he educate in the classroom, he educated in the state Legislature, he educated everywhere he went," she said. "Toby was never behind Leonard, she was always by his side."
The school board approved the name of the school in January last year, his wife said. The dedication was held much later because of scheduling conflicts and attempts to avoid bad weather.
Leonard Stavisky was an adjunct professor of black history and political science in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, where he studied, and the City University of New York. As a legislator, he championed the Stavisky-Goodman Bill, to prevent the city from cutting education funding disproportionally during tough fiscal times.
He died in June 1999 at the age of 73 and was succeeded by his wife who was formally elected to the position in 2000.
"Leonard devoted his life to the public good and it's appropriate for us to name this school after him," former Borough President Claire Shulman said. "The future of this city depends on how we educate our children."
Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at email@example.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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