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Local News December 14, 2012  RSS feed

BUILDING A NEW TRIBUTE TO POL

Calls To Name Ridgewood School For Ferraro
by Robert Pozarycki

A local lawmaker is asking the city to name the new public school being constructed across the street from Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood in honor of former Queens Congresswoman and first female Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan forwarded to the Times Newsweekly letters she recently sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and School Construction Authority President Lorraine Grillo formally making the request to rename P.S. 290 in Ferraro’s memory.

The campus is currently being erected at the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Tonsor Street, the former site of a Rite Aid pharmacy. Expected to open its doors in September 2014, P.S. 290 is an elementary school designed to alleviate overcrowding at nearby P.S. 71 in Ridgewood and P.S. 153 in Maspeth.

“As you know, Geraldine Ferraro was a very important Queens resident and is a role model to women and families throughout our city and country,” Nolan wrote to Bloomberg, Walcott and Grillo, citing Ferraro’s place in history as the first female and Italian-American to be nominated to the presidential ticket of a major political party.

Nolan noted that, prior to entering politics, Ferraro was a teacher in the New York City public schools system. As previously reported, Ferraro educated youngsters at P.S. 85 in Astoria before eventually pursuing a legal career.

“Before all that, however, she was a schoolteacher here in Queens, which makes the naming a school after her even more fitting,” the assemblywoman added. “She devoted her life to serving the public, first as a schoolteacher and a district attorney, and then as a member of Congress and as a public figure for decades.”

In her closing, Nolan stated that she had “spoken to others who I thought would be interested in the idea and have received universal support and approval.” She offered to forward “letters of support” for the Ferraro naming to the mayor, chancellor and SCA president.

After teaching for several years, Ferraro went to law school and eventually joined the Queens District Attorney’s office as a prosecutor. In 1978, she ran for and won the Ninth Congressional District seat in Queens, and went on to serve three terms on Capitol Hill.

During her Congressional tenure, Ferraro became a rising start in the national Democratic party. During the 1984 presidential campaign, the party’s nominee, former Vice President Walter Mondale, chose Ferraro as his running mate.

In so doing, Ferraro became the first woman and first Italian-American ever to be nominated to a presidential ticket of a major political party. Though Mondale and Ferraro lost the election to President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush, Ferraro’s candidacy was credited for shattering the glass ceiling and opening the door for future female candidates to seek the nation’s highest public offices.

Following her vice presidential candidacy, Ferraro would make two unsuccessful attempts at winning a Senate seat in 1992 and 1998. She was also appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Convention on Human Rights in Geneva.

Ferraro, who died on Mar. 26, 2011 at the age of 75 following a long battle with cancer, was previously honored with the renaming of the Long Island City post office in 2010. The intersection of Austin Street and Ascan Avenue in Forest Hills, located close to where Ferraro once resided, was also renamed in her memory back in October.

Though its permanent home remains under construction, P.S. 290 is already in operation, with its first classes temporarily housed at Maspeth’s I.S. 73.