Tag Archives: St. Mary Gate of Heaven

‘Invention Convention’ showcases student inventors in Ozone Park

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER / Photo by Angela Matua


Student inventors gathered at St. Mary Gate of Heaven on Friday to display their work at the first “Invention Convention” in Ozone Park.

The sixth-graders were tasked by their science teacher, Joan Sorrerio, with creating a complex machine made of several simple machines, which can include levers, wheels, inclined planes and nuts and bolts.

“It’s really a test to be functional. It’s meant to be innovative and kind of get them involved in technology and practicing their presentation skills,” Sorrerio said.

In the past, St. Mary Gate of Heaven hosted science fairs but decided to take a different approach after the state requested that schools focus more heavily on science, technology, engineering and math. Through this project, students have been exposed to activities such as making blueprints and taking measurements.

Nayasha Ramnauth created a machine to help a specific segment of the population.

“My goal was to help the handicapped get their clothes,” Ramnauth said.

She used wood, a 20-foot rope, two 20-foot chalk lines, nuts, bolts and screws to fashion a machine she calls “Handy Dandy” that pulls clothes toward a person when they twist the crank on a chalk line.

Michael Panarse created “Fish Feeder” using simple tools such as an incline plane, metal wires, a toy railroad car and rubber bands. The feeder worked on a pulley system and when Panarse pulled a string, it triggered the fish food holder to spring forward and drop fish pellets into the tank.

Joshua Rampioray wanted to “make you a coffee in an instant” with his invention, “Hot Stuff.” He used wood, pipe holders, valves, hoses, sugar, diluted coffee, milk, a funnel and gears to build a coffee machine. The liquids and sugar were poured into different hoses and met in the funnel. To mix the coffee, he attached a spoon to a crank and then arranged a set of gears to twist the spoon into a cup.

Students presented their project to Sorerio and three were crowned winners at the end of the convention.

Nicole Morales won for “The Bucket Trap,” a mousetrap that lures mice on to a ramp and then to a cylinder covered in peanut butter. As they reach the peanut butter, they become trapped into the cylinder, which drops them into a bucket.

Jonathan Ruano received a second-place prize for the “The Fast Track Abstract,” which helps painters paint a canvas, and the third-place winner, Jose Acevedo, created an egg-cracking machine titled “The Eggonator.”

Democratic District Leader Frank Gulluscio and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo attended the event to show their support and browse the inventions.

“As a former teacher here and a member of the board of directors I’m really excited that the kids have taken initiative to go to the next level,” Gulluscio said. “The buzz and the smiles on the kids faces, it’s just enormous. I’m very happy for the kids and very happy for the school.”


Virgin Mary statue beheaded at Ozone Park church

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Katelyn DiSalvo

A Virgin Mary statue was beheaded in Ozone Park and police are investigating it as a hate crime, cops said.

Monday morning the St. Mary Gate of Heaven Roman Catholic church discovered the headless statue outside its doors. It was removed from the property shortly after.

“If this is a hate crime against a church, I believe it’s demeaning and disrespectful toward the religion and the community,” said Alessandro Damico, a member of the St. Mary parish.

Church representatives said police are looking into the incident and have no further comment.

“This is not to be accepted, especially for an icon in our community such as St. Mary’s Gate of Heaven,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

The 104th Street church lacks outdoor security cameras, so cops will search the surrounding community for similarly reported incidents, said a police source.

The investigation is ongoing.

A bill to increase the penalty for hate crimes passed the state in 2000. A current bill to once more increase the penalties for criminal activity at places of worship passed the State Senate in June 2013, but did not pass in the State Assembly. It will most likely be reintroduced next legislative session, according to Addabbo.

-With additional reporting by Katelyn DiSalvo



Retired St. Mary Gate of Heaven principal inspires generations

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

It was a moist Friday, a little after noon, when the kids at St. Mary Gate of Heaven crowded in a circle at the main entrance of the building. They weren’t excited about going outside for recess, nor that the weekend was just hours away.

Instead, Patrick Scannell, former principal, was the center of the circle that the cheering children had formed. These days, an appearance by Scannell at the Ozone Park school is like a cameo appearance of a celebrity on a popular TV show.

When Scannell began there in 1967, George Romney, the former governor of Michigan, was considering a run for the presidency. Around the time Scannell retired at the end of last school year, George’s son, Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, was closing in on the nomination.

Scannell, the son of Irish immigrants and a product of Astoria, had been a part of the school for 45 years — the first 17 as a teacher, and then 28 as its principal. To remember his years of dedication and service, he is being honored with a mass and brunch this month, and a scholarship to attend the school will be named after him.

It was during that summer 45 years ago when Scannell decided he didn’t want to study becoming a priest anymore. A graduate of St. Bonaventure University, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do — so he applied for a teaching job at a school he’d never heard of before, he said, and didn’t know where it was.

Just around Labor Day, however, he got a call from the Diocese of Brooklyn, asking if he wanted a teaching job at St. Mary Gate of Heaven.

“My plan was to stay for a couple of years and move on,” he said casually. “I really came to love the place.”

His first of many classes was seventh grade, where he taught history, geography and religion among many other subjects. The classroom at that time had a phonograph to play records and a film strip projector. That landscape has since changed, with it, the way students learn.

“[Classroom technology today] allows a teacher to bring the world right into the class,” he said.

Scannell taught at the school until 1984, when he was approached and asked if he would be interested in filling the open principal’s position. Scannell took the job, and oversaw generations of students.

One of his students was Raffaelo Corso, who himself became an educator. In fact, Corso, is in his first year leading the school, and Scannell said he couldn’t be happier that Corso has taken over.

The now-retired principal, who ran his first New York City Marathon in 1996 at 51 years old, and continued to for seven straight years after, said his focus is relaxing from the stress of running a school.

“I have not had the alarm clock on,” he said, smiling with his hands folded. “It’s a little slower and more relaxed.”

Nothing is set in stone yet, but he expressed some plans on travelling to Cork, Ireland, where his mother, one of 12 children, grew up on a farm. One of Scannell’s 30-plus cousins runs the farm to this day.

But everything up to now has been education for him. Scannell believes learning is crucial to any young person’s life, and is honored that a scholarship furthering that idea is being named for him.

It’s his love of teaching — and the St. Mary’s students’ love of learning — that makes the school so special, according to Scannell.

One example of this, he said, was a student who was diagnosed with leukemia in the second grade. The boy went on to get treatment through the fifth grade. Scannell, his voice cracking, said he saw the boy in the school yard one morning — getting sick before heading in for class.

“He didn’t let that stop him from getting an education,” Scannell said. “There’s someone who’s fighting with it, dealing with and carrying on.”

The boy’s classmates — and classmates of other students who had fallen ill over the years — were an inspiration as well, he said.

Passing the cafeteria on his way out of the building that Friday, the scores of children eating their lunches stopped and stood, waving and saying hello to Patrick Scannell.