Tag Archives: Walter Reed School

Queens students create art to tackle issues of abuse and teen pregnancy

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of LeAp

Middle school students from Queens are taking a trip down New York City’s art circuit.

Walter Reed School in Maspeth and Robert E. Peary School in Glendale teamed up with a nonprofit art program to help students create an art exhibit that turns cafeteria benches into canvases with pictures of butterflies, the grim reaper and the words, “Be yourself. Stay above the influence” on them.

Students at Walter Reed presented their picture collage to an audience in Union Square on May 20 and on June 10 they will hold an exhibition at Juniper Park Valley. Students from Robert E. Peary School in Glendale will unveil their exhibit at the Evergreen Park on the same day.

The exhibits are meant to help students address problems in their communities that are important to them. These issues include substance abuse, teen pregnancy and dropping out of school and each table features pictures created by students from both schools.

“The students are the ones that brought these issues up,” said Jenny Castillo, an art teacher at the Walter Reed school. “These are issues they deal with on a daily basis.” The school worked with LeAp, a nonprofit organization that holds programs to educate students through art in New York City, to help the students create the art.

The art exhibits are part of LeAp’s larger citywide project to empower students in 10 schools on topics and issues that students come up with, according to LeAp’s Art Program Director Alexandra Leff.

“The idea is that students talk about these things around lunch time,” Leff said, explaining why cafeteria benches were chosen as the canvas. “It’s their moment to have a voice and talk about what’s important to them in a larger public space.”

“They live in neighborhoods where they’re around these problems all the time,” Castillo said.

The cafeteria benches will be on display for the whole summer and afterwards they will go on display in each school.



Maspeth school employee charged for having sex with 14-year-old student

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


An employee at a Maspeth school for special education children has been charged for engaging in sexual acts with a 14-year-old student, according to officials.

The accused woman, 39-year-old Clara Somodi, was arrested about 1 a.m. Thursday and charged with rape, a criminal sex act and endangering the welfare of a child, police said. The sexual acts didn’t occur on school grounds, according to cops.

Somodi has been a paraprofessional at the Walter Reed School, which serves special education students in K-8, for 10 years, a Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson said. She was immediately suspended without pay.

The student is being provided with counseling, according to the DOE spokesperson.