Living on

In the spring, a wildflower garden will bloom next to PS 24 revealing delicate purple flowers and leafy green plants.

The color scheme is fitting because green and purple were Abby Burg’s favorite colors. They went with her red hair said Jean Burg, Abby’s mother, pointing to the purple scarf that used to be her daughter’s and now hangs around her own neck.
But that didn’t matter to the students, parents, teachers and administrators who never knew her as they gathered outside the school on Oct. 28.

Before her untimely death in a jet-skiing accident in Austin, Texas on July 24, the college student and volunteer worked with underprivileged children. Before that, 15 years ago, Abby attended PS 24. 

After reading of Abby’s death in The Riverdale Press, the PS 24 community (at parent Cliff Stanton’s behest) sprang into action. Students from PS 24’s garden club, along with Abby’s father, David Burg, cleared and planted an approximately 7-by-14-foot area next to the school, filing it with native wildflowers, donated by the Department of Parks and Recreation. The PS 24 Parents’ Association donated a plaque, which sits on the side of the garden and reads Abby’s Wildflower Meadow.
The group in attendance at the dedication ceremony sang songs and gave speeches, along with Abby’s family, friends and neighbors, who gathered outdoors despite temperatures in the 30s.

Mr. Burg, who founded WildMetro, a non-profit that aims to protect nature in metropolitan areas, said it was important that the meadow be full of native plants that don’t need a lot of care in order to flourish.

At the garden’s unveiling, he gave a speech about Abby.

“She shared a family dedication to helping others,” he said of his daughter, who volunteered at Advocates for Children, the New York Bronx Cancer Services Program, WildMetro, and Americorps.

At the time of her death, Abby was still working in an Americorps-funded position, helping at-risk youth at Bedechek Middle School. She was about to start work on her master’s degree in social work at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was awarded a full scholarship.

“She set a great example for all of you because she really was a shining light,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said to the crowd.

After numerous speeches, third through eighth graders is PS 24’s glee club sang about hardship and reaching for the stars.

“I’m gonna keep trying, gonna keep my head held high because there’s always gonna be another mountain,” the students chorused, bobbing up and down and rubbing their hands together to stay warm on the 30-something degree morning.
Then Abby’s uncle, Phil Rosenthal, member of the GRAMMY Award-winning bluegrass band The Seldom Scene, sang a song that he performed at her funeral.
“The song I hear for Abigail. I see her now with her long red hair, her gentle ways and her knowing smile,” he sang gently as he strummed his guitar.

After the music, Mr. Burg took a children’s shovel and dug a small hole in Abby’s meadow. PS 24 students gathered around eagerly, ready to put the delicate purple Aster plant into the soil.

When the planting was over, Chemiere Bannermon, a fifth grader who sang with the glee club, said earnestly that she hopes Abby’s memory will live on.
“I think they did a good job,” she said of the garden. “And I hope it stays there forever.”

MC Halloween

Manhattan College got into the Halloween spirit last week, throwing a party for senior citizens and hosting a trick-or-treating event for local children.

About 20 students from Professor Lisa Rizopoulos’ literacy course and the Lasallian Collegians, a charity group, traveled to the Methodist Home for Nursing & Rehabilitation on Saturday to celebrate Halloween with seniors.

The group decorated cupcakes, read stories, participated in senior Zumba (a workout to International music) and did crossword puzzles. There was also trivia based on Halloween classics such as Bewitched, a TV series that ran from 1964 to 1972. Seniors received prizes, books and calendars.

Manhattan College educational honor society Kappa Delta Pi also hosted its Safe Halloween on Oct. 28. Students donned costumes and opened their dorms up to trick-or-treaters from the neighborhood.

“So they don’t have to trick-or-treat in their neighborhood if they want to … because some people worry about that,” Ms. Rizopoulos said in a phone interview.

Students from the Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience, or L.O.V.E., also helped out at the event, running activities and giving out gifts.

Lehman gala

Lehman College celebrated its 80th anniversary with a gala at the New York Botanical Garden on Oct. 27.

At the gala, Lehman officials recognized those who have supported the college. Honorees included Rep. Eliot Engel, William J. Gilbane, Jr., president and CEO of the fifth largest construction management firm in the U.S., and Dominick Russello, vice president and relationship manager at Citibank.

In a statement, Lehman President Ricardo R. Fernández, a Riverdale resident, said although times are tough, the college “took root during the depths of the Great Depression” and he is confident that it will continue to thrive. 

RKA tours

The David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, MS/HS 141 will hold tours for prospective zoned middle school parents through Friday, Dec. 16. The tours take place every Friday excluding holidays, at 8:30 a.m., from now through December 16.  
RKA will also host two high school open houses for eighth graders, on Tuesday, Nov. 15 and Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 8:30 a.m.  
For more information or to register, e-mail

Spooky school

Visitation School’s Annual Halloween Hop took place on Oct. 28 and featured a themed “scary walk.” Since this year’s theme was Back to Ghoul 2011, children and their families walked in Alumni Hall then proceeded through a haunted classroom, trophy case, nurse’s office, science lab and classroom.

The Halloween Hop that followed featured music by DJ Howie, door prizes, a raffle, arts and crafts tables and a competition for the best homemade costume. The best costume prize went to eighth grader Thomas Donoghue, who was a squeeze bottle of mustard, and the best homemade costume was awarded to fifth grader Marcos Zorilla, who was a robot.

“The Parents’ Association, along with many parent volunteers work countless hours every year to make this a success, and this year is no different,” Ann McCormack, of Visitation’s Parents’ Association, wrote in an e-mail.


Elena Papaliberios, who worked as the superintendent of Bronx high schools for seven years, retired on Tuesday.

In an e-mail, Ms. Papaliberios called leaving her post “bittersweet.”

“I have enjoyed every single aspect of my work, but in the end, what I have truly appreciated is the many letters and e-mails I have received from former students thanking me for the impact I made in their lives ... that is the reason I joined this profession, and I feel confident that I have accomplished my goal,” Ms. Papaliberios wrote in a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

There is no word yet on who Mr. Walcott will appoint to take Ms. Papaliberios’ place.