Tag Archives: Inc.

Performing arts program offered at Catholic schools across Queens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Roopa Bhopale

Students at Catholic schools across Queens and Brooklyn are learning that all the world is a stage.

For the past few years, the Diocese of Brooklyn has been partnering with the nonprofit theater company Stages on the Sound Inc. to offer the Performing Arts Residency Program to almost 16,000 children every week at academies and schools throughout both boroughs.

Through this program, students from the fourth, sixth, and eighth grades at each school take part in one-hour-long weekly classes for 15 weeks taught by professionally trained actors and teachers.

“It builds up their self-esteem, gives them ability to be creative and allows them to express themselves, which they might not have the chance to do in the classroom,” said Robert Choiniere, managing director of Stages on the Sound.

The program is funded in partnership with each individual school and the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust Fund. It is offered at 19 schools in Queens and 17 schools in Brooklyn.

Fourth-graders work on filmmaking and stop motion animation using tablets and cameras. The students get together in teams to create short animated films that tell a story.

“It’s all about telling a story with images,” Choiniere said. “That’s critical and important in the 21st century.”

Sixth-graders take a step ahead and begin focusing on playwriting. While working in teams, the children begin to identify issues they might see in their lives are important — such as bullying or school violence — and create plays reflecting those themes.

The older students in the eighth grade then work on a Shakespeare curriculum, reading and acting out scenes from plays.

“They’re beginning to learn that it’s about acting, not just reading, and [it’s not] boring,” Choiniere said.

When the 15-week program comes to an end, the students present their works during a performance at each individual school. Although the timeline at the schools vary, most of the programs will be coming to an end in February.

On May 8, there will be a gala performance and award ceremony with parents and teachers showcasing the top films from all participating schools.

According to Choiniere, this program is the first time a lot of the students are being exposed to the performing arts. Participating in the program opens the doors to a cultural arts experience and potentially to a future in the field. 

“This is the time when they are thinking about ‘what I want to do when I grow up,’” Choiniere said. “The students have latched right onto it. Everybody across the board has found this program to be very exciting.”

He added that they hope to be able to expand the program to other schools, Catholic or public. 

For more information on Stages on the Sound visit www.stagesonthesound.com.


LIC museum showcases extensive history of elevators

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Something is going down in Long Island City.

For the past three years the neighborhood has been home to The Elevator Historical Society, also known as the Elevator Museum, on the second floor of the bright yellow taxi building at 43-39 21st St.

Photo by Patrick Carrajat

The museum was started by Patrick Carrajat, 70, who has been active in the elevator business since he was 11 years old and went to work with his father every weekend.

“What 11-year-old boy doesn’t want to go to work with his father?” Carrajat said.

Since then Carrajat, who lives in Long Island City with his wife, has worked throughout the elevator business, owning his own company at one point, and is now an elevator consultant and expert witness.

After realizing that his own personal elevator collection was getting too large, he decided to find a place to begin the museum.

Among the items at the site are those he has collected for years, including what he calls his favorite piece – a cover of an interlock that he brought home the first day working with his father in 1955 – and items he buys on eBay as well as some donations.

“The museum came about because I had no place to put all of this stuff and I thought it would be a good idea to give stuff back to the industry,” he said. “I owe a lot to the industry. It’s a pay-it-forward type of situation.”

Before starting the museum, Carrajat also wrote a book called “History of the American Elevator,” which he says came out of a “near death experience” after he was scheduled to be on the 79th floor machine room of the North Tower on 9/11, but took the day off.

He said what intrigues him the most are the social and economic implications and importance of elevators to our everyday lives.

“If we didn’t have the elevator, New York City would stretch from north of Boston to south of Washington D.C. It would be five- or six-story buildings, that’s all it would be,” he said. “There is also so much interaction that can happen in an elevator. There’s a certain closeness in an elevator, you can’t avoid it. Our personal space gets invaded in elevators all the time.”

Carrajat says the museum welcomes, with no charge, about 500 visitors per year. He hopes the visitors, who to his surprise are mainly made up of “non-elevator people,” leave with a little better appreciation of the history and hopefully pass along to other people “that there are interesting small museums.”

In the end, Carrajat said the plan is for all the items in his collection to go to Elevator World, Inc., the publisher for the international building transportation industry, in Alabama.

“I fell in love with the business and wiser people have said, ‘If you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.’ I’m still waiting to go to work,” Carrajat said. “I think it’s a great thing to say at 70 that you love what you do and you keep doing it.”

Although people can stop by the museum, Carrajat recommends potential visitors call in advance just to make sure he is in. For more information visit www.elevatorhistory.org or call 917-748-2328.



JFK’s Terminal 4 opens new upscale retailers as part of expansion project

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Seven new upscale retail stores have opened up for business at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport’s Terminal 4.

World-renowned retailers Michael Kors, Travelex, Thomas Pink, Hugo Boss, Victoria’s Secret, Coach, Inc. and Swarovski are now available for travelers wishing to shop at the airport.

“As the premier international terminal at New York’s JFK Airport, we are thrilled to offer this mix of world-renowned brands to our airlines and their passengers,” said Gert-Jan de Graaff, president and CEO of JFKIAT, LLC, the company that operates Terminal 4.  “We are happy to provide retailers who are willing to offer the best names and products in the world right here at JFK’s Terminal 4.”

The stores are a part of an expansion of the terminal, which serves 30 domestic and international airlines and has a passenger volume of more than 60,000 people per day.

The expansion, which is currently underway, is making room for Delta Airlines at JFK Airport, has increased Terminal 4’s size by more than one third, and included additions such as new in-line baggage system and a centralized security checkpoint, along with the new retail stores, to enhance customer experience and benefit the airline’s partners.



More than 300 come out for 4th Annual IRI Walkabout

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Part of the idea, organizers said, was to show how the developmentally disabled people of Independence Residences, Inc. (IRI) are really capable of many things.

More than 300 people came out for the 4th Annual IRI Walkabout and Picnic at Cunningham Park on Saturday, July 28, to walk, eat and show their support.

“It’s a great event,” said Assemblymember Mike Miller, who has attended the event every year. “We started with a few people the first year and you saw how big it was this year. Pretty soon we’re going to outgrow the park.”

IRI executive director Ray DeNatale said he modeled the event after the Australian ritual of “walkabout,” a time of self-evaluation and renewal.

The late Florence D’Urso, wife of the founder and president of Key Food, was memorialized at the event for the supermarket chain’s dedication to supporting IRI. Walk organizers said the store has provided free food every year IRI has had a picnic. Cooking was done by the Glendale Kiwanis Club, said Miller, who is also a member.

This year IRI celebrates its 25th anniversary as an incorporated organization. In that time, the group has helped a number of disabled people find jobs and shared apartments.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo was named an honorary grand marshal for the day, along with Miller. IRI’s ability to help the disabled was an inspiration to elected officials, Addabbo said, and in turn it was their duty to ensure IRI and other organizations continue to get funding.

“What I want to center on is to protect funding for early intervention,” he said. The walk and picnic’s growing turnout spoke to the abilities of the organization and those who use it, said DeNatale, who has been with IRI for more than 11 years.

“Today was a great day,” he said. “I’m very, very thankful for all the people who came up and show support for us.”