Junior High School 202 Celebrates 50 Years in Ozone Park

Junior High School 202 Celebrates 50 Years in Ozone Park

Photo: Faculty and administrators at Junior High School 202 last Thursday celebrated 50 years of the Ozone Park institution. Forum Photo by Michael V. Cusenza

If it takes a village to raise a child, then the Ozone Park community has cultivated generations who have walked the halls of Junior High School 202.

And so, area residents and business owners joined students, faculty, support staff, and administrators last Thursday outside its Lafayette Street entrance to celebrate 50 years of the public education institution, and the ever-evolving community that has embraced it since the doors opened in 1964.

“This important milestone gives us a chance to reflect on our founding and revel in our success,” said Principal William Fitzgerald, adding that the occasion also serves as a reminder of what remains to be achieved.

Fitzgerald, who is in his seventh year as principal at 202, said that the school’s identity for the past five decades has been at the forefront of technology, and how to harness it in the classroom.

“Whether it was TV back then or computers now, we’ve always used technology to teach and prepare the kids,” he noted. “We graduate 350 to 400 students every year, and they go on to top high schools and colleges, and become top professionals in what they do. Me and my staff feel responsible for guiding them through that journey.”

One of those guides for the past 12 years has been foreign language teacher Mariel Piazza. She said that she has noticed one particular consistency that has, in her opinion, helped the school reach the 50-year mark.

“A lot of teachers are from the neighborhood,” she noted. “They want to work here.”

Piazza also said that another key to longevity is leadership.

“Mr. Fitzgerald is a great principal, because he’s very hands-on,” she related. “He’s very much involved with what is going on in the school.”

Rosalie Feratro, who has taught Italian and Spanish at JHS 202 for 28 years, called the school “our home away from home.

“It has been magical to have been a part of so many families,” she added.

Prior to unveiling the 50-year sign that now stands on the grass outside the school’s entrance, Fitzgerald made sure to thank parents and all teachers who made the march toward the milestone possible.

“We feel comfort knowing the role that 202 has played in [students’] lives,” he said, “whether it’s finding a cure for cancer, or an iron worker in Local 40 helping to rebuild the Freedom Tower.”

Asked for the secret to five more decades of success in Ozone Park, Piazza said it always comes back to relationships.

“You have to keep the parents involved,” she posited.




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