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Bayside school goes blue over big award

City Councilman Dan Halloran (l.-r.), Principal Michelle Contratti, Assistant Principal Laurie Careddu and city Comptroller John Liu celebrate PS 130's recent distinction as a Blue Ribbon School. Photo by Joe Anuta
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A Bayside school was decked out in a certain color last week after it was named just one of 305 Blue Ribbon Schools in the entire country.

PS 130, at 200-01 42nd Ave., received the distinction Sept. 15 from the U.S. Department of Education, which picked the schools based on high performance rates or achievements in narrowing learning gaps.

“We were so excited that day,” said Principal Michelle Contratti in an interview at a party for the adults and parents affiliated with the school.

Contratti’s students had already been celebrating its top-tier distinction for months, and the children might have gone a little overboard in their festivities, according to Assistant Principal Laurie Careddu.

She described some of the crafts and party snacks the kids had on the school’s self-proclaimed Blue Ribbon Day Nov. 23.

“We had blue stuffing, blue butter, all-blue turkey, blue ice cream,” she said, adding that the celebration will not stop anytime soon.

As evidence of the students’ pride, the halls of the school are plastered with unsteady scrawls praising the merits of their Blue Ribbon School.

And city officials praised the school as well.

“It’s a huge deal!” said city Comptroller John Liu, who attended the event. “There is so much negative publicity about public schools in our city, it makes it that much more special when we can take a minute to celebrate incredible success.”

Two months ago, annual report cards revealed that only about a quarter of high school students in the city were adequately prepared for college. And just last week, the city Department of Education decided to add an additional seven schools to a closure list that is now 25 long.

Only one of the schools slated for closure is in Queens, but the city is unlikely to close down any institution near PS 130.

The elementary school is in District 26, which, along with its neighbor District 25, is a top performer in the city.

In fact, there were two other blue ribbon recipients in the area: a District 25 school in Fresh Meadows and another District 26 school in Bayside.

And since northeast Queens had so many successes this year, it is proof that schools have the capability to offer excellent education, according to City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone).

“This is one of the those schools that proves you can do it in New York City,” he said.

But once a school is at the top, like PS 130, it is difficult to stay there.

When the federal DOE ranks institutions, improvement is one of the things taken into account. Since PS 130 cannot get much better — it was given its award based on high performance — its ranking will likely diminish next year.

But that does not phase Contratti, who said that despite the fact that her school’s score will likely change for the worse, the things that got the school to be distinguished in the first place will not — like the caliber of her staff.

“They are incredibly talented and dedicated professionals, and they truly love their job,” she said. “It really is about the relationships we have between students, teachers and outside organizations.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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