Board 29 votes to name school after late Jenkins

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School Board 29 has set into motion the process of naming a district school after longtime community activist and state Assemblywoman Cynthia Jenkins, who died last month.

At the board’s monthly meeting last Thursday at PS 52 at 146th Terrace and Guy Brewer Blvd. in Jamaica, the members voted to name PS 37 after Jenkins.

Once the board gets input from the community, parents and school, and applies to the 110 Livingston St. to “make sure all of the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed” the Springfield Gardens school at 179-37 137th Ave. will be named after her, said Nathaniel Washington, School Board 29 president.

“I think naming PS 37 after Jenkins is appropriate because it was her favorite school,” Washington said.

In addition, the board also passed a resolution to name the library in Laurelton’s PS 270, one of the district’s three new schools, after Jenkins.

She was the first black woman elected to public office in southern Queens, a librarian, a community activist and a feisty advocate for public education.

Jenkins died at North Shore Hospital on Long Island Oct. 31 after a long illness. She was 77.

She had remained politically active right up until her death a week before the general election, running for City Councilman Archie Spigner’s (D-St. Albans) seat on the Independence Party line. She remained on the ballot in Nov. 6 election.

Community leader Adrienne Rogers said there are some people in the community who would only want the library named after Jenkins. But because Jenkins was a strong supporter of the schools in District 29, she said, it would fitting that a school be named after her.

“She was very active in both library and school issues, but I think she would rather be known by her school activism,” Rogers said. “I think she made her mark in education.”

Sheila Pecoraro, a former school board member and president of the 105th Precinct council, said she and Jenkins did not always agree, but Jenkins was right on many education matters. She said Jenkins was a tireless worker and advocate for schools and libraries.

“That is the best thing they could have done,” said Gertrude S. Gonesh, about naming the school after Jenkins. “She fought hard and every which way for that school.”

She recalled that when developers tried to build a multiplex movie theater near PS 37, Jenkins she took money out of her own pocket to help with the fight against its construction. Gonesh said when Home Depot, which took the place of the proposed multiplex, came to the area, she made the company adopt the school.

“You might not like her approach, but she fought hard for this community,” Gonesh said. “I hope the board follows through with this because she deserves it.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Updated 7:28 pm, October 10, 2011
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