By Sarah Horvath ‘21
Since 2014, classes have been interrupted continually by the loud banging noises of the construction across the street. While the bottom floor of the complex now features chains like Starbucks and SoulCycle, there is also a new K-8 school above them: The Riverside School for Makers and Artists moved into this space in August. In years prior, the school was located at the corner of 61st and Amsterdam.
The school’s motto, “Dream. Think. Do,” refers to the school’s project-based learning, which is primarily based in the maker lab, a collaborative workspace where the mindset of a maker is creating something out of nothing. Not only has this attracted more students into their facility that can hold up to 690 students, but it has brought in families with students interested in the arts. The school has grown immensely due to the changes. Although it has only been three months in the new space, the faculty and the student body have already seen a major improvement in the school.
Headed by Principal Lauren Keville, The Riverside School for Makers and Artists is
so grateful that the Department of Education (DOE) chose her school to be in the new building. “Three years ago,” Keville explained, “the School Leadership Team was convened in order to discuss possibly moving into the recently developed building.” Simultaneously, the DOE was rezoning the neighborhood to relieve the overcrowding in many of the other schools in the district. The DOE decided that moving the school to the new site would also help with the rezoning efforts.
The new complex has many resources the school previously lacked. The school now has additional classrooms and facilities, a modern gym, a fully air-conditioned building and new technology. Keville said, “We are thankful for the new space. We even have a maker lab, something that we would have never been able to have in the old building.”
With PS 452, PS 199, West End Secondary School, and The Riverside School for Makers and Artists all around the corner from Heschel, the blocks can get crowded during arrival and dismissal. While the masses of students on the public transportation around the area have greatly increased, many Heschel students have not felt a difference and have not even noticed a change. Heschel freshman Samuel Wurzburger, who typically takes a Via to school and sometimes the subway, mentioned, “It [the increased number of students] is definitely manageable, and it doesn’t affect me so much.” In addition, Sophomore Madeline Cosgrove, who takes the subway, said, “Honestly, I haven’t noticed a difference because of all the schools; the subway is pretty much always crowded anyways.”
When addressing the overcrowding issue, Keville stated, “Part of the reason that many don’t feel the difference of our school is that all of our dismissal times are very scattered at the end of the day.”
The Riverside School for Makers and Artists has begun to participate in joint activities with PS 199 and West End Secondary School, such as joint community service projects. Keville, along with her whole school, is excited to reach out to the Heschel community and to engage in new activities between the two schools. When Rabbi Noam found out about Keville and her school, he noted, “I think it is very valuable for Heschel to be in productive relationships with our neighbors.”