Big Cheers for PS 44

" . . . if enough people put on a smile simultaneously, the effect will bring out the sun. That fable certainly rang true on a brisk February afternoon at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture where there were enough smiles to light up the entire City."

From time to time, we come to a point in our pursuit of personal fulfillment, that we must stop and ask ourselves, “What is it all for?�  “Is it really worth all this?�  Well, dear Brothers and Sisters, the answer to those questions was manifested on the happy faces of the adorable Marcus Garvey School Knights cheerleading squad of PS 44, Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, as they charmed their audience with effervescent cheers and collectively, some pretty amazing moves.

The incandescent affair was hosted by the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture at their elegant, Jacobean style meeting house at 53 Prospect Park West.  It was a joyful celebration of the harvest resulting from the collaborative efforts of a community that came together giving of their time, energy and most importantly, their love to our most precious commodity – the children.  The brilliant young starlets executed astute precision and absolute coordination while robustly chanting to their rhythmic and intricate stepping routines as parents and friends marveled at the sight.  For the finale, the little ladies amazed their admirers with some very challenging one-hand cartwheels and forward splits.  But of all the remarkable feats of agility and skill the adorable ones displayed, the most memorable was their cute little faces beaming while flashing those pearly whites, and the twinkle in their eyes as they showered us with joy and enthusiasm that was felicitously reciprocated.

Intermission turned out to be another highlight of the delectable afternoon, during which time, the children and guests seized the opportunity to mingle and enjoy some tasty refreshments which were provided by sponsor, Southern Comforts. We were all invited to join our gracious hosts in the beautiful, bright sun parlor.  Stepping onto the parlor, we enjoyed the unseasonably bright, cheerful light of the winter sun, while engulfed in glass from bottom to top.  Looking out at the elegant grounds surrounding the lovely English Renaissance mini-mansion, we engaged in an indoor picnic of sorts. 

My father used to say that if enough people put on a smile simultaneously, the effect would bring out the sun.  That fable certainly rang true on the brisk February afternoon at the BSEC.  There were enough smiles throughout the building to light up the entire City.  If that weren’t enough, the food was absolutely delightful.  Master Lou’s Bakery/Eatery located at 1180 Bedford Avenue between Putnam and Madison in Brooklyn, donated a beautiful full sheet cake.  Written on top of the beautifully adorned cake were the words, “Congratulations to PS 44 and the BSEC Ethical Action Committee.” (The Ethical Action Committee notation was in honor of the late Charley Horwitz who created the Adopt A School Program).  Not only was the cake beautiful but it was also delicious.  Everyone at the banquet asked for Master Lou’s business cards so they could stop by the bakery at another time.  Even the little cheerleaders asked for cards.  Master Lou’s Bakery/Eatery is the BSEC’s biggest food supporter.  Another favorite among the guests were the crispy Nacho chips accompanied by delicious cream cheese and spinach dip – and the cinnamon-spiked hot apple cider was heaven sent.  Southern Comforts were conscious to provide nutritious treats for the children and guests.  Everyone enjoyed the beautifully presented buffet. 

At the end of the show, the adorable little ones, ranging from shy to precocious, nevertheless, all absolutely precious in their own right, engaged their audience in a Q&A, anxiously raising their hands hoping that they will be chosen to answer the many questions the audience had.

Ms. Deborah Knight, former principal of PS 44 made a lovely presentation to uplift and encourage the young ones and to give guests an overview of what makes PS 44 such a wonderful school. 

Reversing his role as entertainer, celebrity jazz pianist, Ed Stoute enjoyed the festivities of the day as a member of the audience in support of the talented PS 44 group.  The Ed Stoute Trio will be entertaining the guests at PS 44’s annual fundraiser dance in May.

BSEC Member, Tasha Paley and BSEC Spiritual Leader, Lisel Burns, created a beautiful “BSEC Loves PS 44� banner which the girls were allowed to color, sign and take with them. The precious little ladies were also given cuddly stuffed animals to take home, complements of a donor to the school. The BSEC received a $100 contribution which will go towards the PS 44 Fundraiser on Saturday, May 19, 2007.  

I hope that people will come out in droves for the May event to help support these wonderful children, teachers and staff of PS 44, Brooklyn — a school that is bringing back the true meaning of what teaching is supposed to be about — caring for our children and helping them to be the best they can be.  I was told by one of the guests, a charming gentleman who attends the PS 44 fundraiser every year, that the PS 44 annual dance is a wonderful experience – especially for those who enjoy swing dancing.

Dawn Perry who has been the Marcus Garvey School Knights’ cheerleading coach for the past nine years talked about her wonderful group.  It was quite remarkable to witness her endearment and sincere love for the children; knowing each one not just by name, but by their individualities and what made each one extraordinary.  Adopting the motto, “each one, teach one,� Ms. Perry encourages and enjoys the participation of former graduates to return to the school to share their skills with the newer girls.  Ms. Perry’s own daughter works with the group and choreographs many of the cheers.  The poise and discipline the girls displayed is a manifestation of their hard work and Ms. Perry’s dedication together with the hard work and dedication of the other wonderful people who take the time to share and pass on this magnificent artform to the young.

Nettie Paisley, Chairperson of the Life and Ethics Committee for the BSEC  provided a bit of insight about the history of stepping, which was the predominant genre in the girls’ cheerleading routines.  Ms. Paisley explained that “Steppin’â€? originated in South Africa with the Black coal miners and long ago it was called the African Boot Dance.  Ms. Paisley lamented that the girls didn’t know that and stressed the need for Black History in our public schools as promoted by Black Educators for Excellence in NYC and ICOPE.

On March 23rd The Phenomenal Women Group and Girlfriends Get-Together, collectively with a number of other women’s groups will honor Nettie Paisley for Women’s History Month with the Phenomenal Woman of Light award for her extraordinary work in bringing enlightenment and strength to our people through relentless advocating and promotion of the collective system of child rearing and nurturing with her “It takes a village to raise a child” campaign.  Through her hard work and fundraising efforts on behalf of her beloved P.S. 44 in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Nettie Paisley has helped to make P.S. 44 one of the premier schools in New York City.  PR Queen, Terrie M. Williams will be awarded with The Phenomenal Woman of Valor award for her amazing work with children and youth through her Stay Strong Foundation. The Phenomenal Women Group and Girlfriends Get-Together Women’s History Month Celebration will take place on March 23rd at 6:30 PM at Solas, located at 232 E 9th Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenues in New York City.

For more information on The Phenomenal Women Group and Girlfriends Get-Together at Solas, e-mail [email protected]

For more info about the PS 44 Fundraiser in May, call Southern Comforts 917.755.6343 or the BSEC: 718.768.2972

To subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to [email protected]
“Speaking Truth To Empower.�

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