McKinley in the News

McKinley Hosts Annual Commemoration of September 11 Attacks

posted Sep 17, 2018, 4:31 AM by Joanna Gillen


Teaching youth about a turning point in American history.

For the fourth consecutive year, I.S. 259 William McKinley, 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway, hosted a day to educate students about the terrorist attacks that occurred in New York City on September 11, 2001.

The event, held this year on Wednesday, September 12, featured guest Sharyn Yansko, a 9/11 Memorial Museum docent, to discuss 9/11 with the help of slideshows that featured images and video of the World Trade Center.

“This is my second year doing this. I’ve been working at the museum ever since it opened as a docent,” said Yansko. “It’s very meaningful to me, bringing it to kids. It was really enjoyable last year because the kids were interested.It reinforces for me how incredibly important it is to study history and how you’ve got to get people excited about the idea of studying it so that they realize it’s not just stuff that happened before. It changes us.”

Jessica Amato, an English teacher at the school and organizer of the event, discussed the importance of the lesson.

“This is the fourth year that the museum has come to us free of charge to share this message that even in the grimmest of moments, there’s a shred of hope that we have,” she said. “My students take a lot out of it. They walk away with a better understanding of what happens historically and the idea that even in this tragic event, there are some hopeful moments.

“Last week I did an overview and asked who knew about the events,” Amato continued. “None of them was born before 9/11. This is a whole new set of students who have a different grasp of what happened. It’s good to give them information in a way that is appropriate and manageable.”

Following the lesson, student Mostafa Rezk took the seventh grade class on a tour of the school’s elaborate mural depicting the events on the day and featuring paintings of firefighters, police, victims and artifacts donated to the school, such as an American flag flown over the World Trade Center, and steel, glass and a cross found at Ground Zero.

During the conference, Yansko told the story of Welles Crowther, a man who worked in the south tower on the 104th floor and who used a red bandanna his father gave him at a young age to cover his face from the smoke in the building, enabling him to save several lives before he died.

“That his mother was able to find a kind of closure, thanks to the fact that her son helped save people in his last moments, was important,” Amato said. “I think it’s a really great message because a lot of times the students hear a lot of negativity. We need to know that there as moments in our lives, especially as middle school students, that things can be negative but there is always a glimmer of hope that we can hold onto so that we can move forward.”

McKinley Junior High Student Earns Gold at AAU Karate Nationals

posted Sep 17, 2018, 4:26 AM by Joanna Gillen
BY  JULY 26, 2018 @ 1:28 PM

Delilah Kitsakos, a dedicated martial artist and seventh grader at William McKinley Intermediate School, took home the gold at her first four-day long Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) National Karate Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 27.

Kitsakos, her older brother Charles, and her father, Alex Kitsakos, were at the AAU National competition in Florida, a long plane ride from their home on the Fort Hamilton Army Base. The convention center was packed with several hundred experienced martial artists.

“At first I was a little intimidated. They were all doing high level stuff and it makes you humble,” said Kitsakos about her competition. “Most of the other girls knew each other and had done it before so they were comfortable. That annoyed me.”

Although seemingly shy in her white gi pants and jacket, Kitsakos exudes confidence in martial arts. It’s this attitude that won her a gold medal in the offensive and defensive form Kata competition, making her the Female 13-year-old Novice Kata National Champion. She also won a bronze medal for Kumite, the art of sparring and kicking.

At the Hoteikan Dojo, at 71st Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway, she is currently a purple belt participating in the Black Belt Club, a group of kids at the dojo specially trained to become black belts. The dojo, being a few blocks from her school, is basically a second home.

“I remember we were on a cruise with the family and she had a sparring competition at the dojo coming up. So we practiced with the pads on the boat,” said her father, Alex. “The trophy she won was bigger than her.”

Sensei Rebecca Carrano, Kitsakos’s teacher, has been teaching martial arts with her husband for 25 years including helping toddlers learn through their “Little Dragons” program where Kitsakos started. Carrano said, “Definitely, she [Delilah] has the skill and discipline to be a sensei. No ifs about that.”

Since she was four years old, Kitsakos has been practicing her craft, and hopes to one day become a sensei and continue the legacy of the Hoteikan dojo. She believes emphatically in learning how to protect yourself so that you can in turn protect others.

McKinley students celebrate poetry in the garden

posted Sep 17, 2018, 4:23 AM by Joanna Gillen

BY ARIAMA LONG • JUNE 20, 2018 @ 11:44 AM

Among pitched tents and tables set up in the Narrows Botanical Gardens– in Shore Road Park at 71st Street– were 12 eager William McKinley I.S. 259 students presenting poetry and artwork on June 10.  

The misty Sunday afternoon was described as cozy by Language Arts Teacher Jessica Amato, who volunteers in the botanical gardens and holds her school events there when she can.

“In the park with poetry, that’s natural,” said Amato, “it brings something that you can’t capture in a classroom.”

About 50 people with their lawn chairs and light umbrellas watched the students showcase their work at the podium. One student would hold up the artwork while another read the poetry inspired by said work. The series of artwork and writing included four different categories.

The categories were based on New York postcards, a picture that represents the student’s identity, a picture from their neighborhood, and elements of old Bay Ridge.

Some students discussed motivations for their pieces from these categories, and expanded on ideas like liberty and freedom or paid tribute to Bay Ridge’s famous icons.

Amato said, “It was a community effort to promote literacy, art and a love of the art of poetry, which is dying. That was the mission.”

Veteran's Day At McKinley

posted Dec 8, 2017, 9:53 AM by Joanna Gillen   [ updated Jan 14, 2018, 9:08 AM ]

In addition to the assembly, students created a video to share with the Veterans. Check it out!

October Events

posted Oct 30, 2017, 6:20 AM by Joanna Gillen   [ updated Nov 2, 2017, 12:37 PM ]

Halloween Window Painting Contest!
Congratulations to all of our student participants and winners. 
Karla Meza 814 Gold
Julia Zhong 805 Gold
Kendra Wong 805 Gold
Jessica Xie 801 Gold 
 Sunny Kunag 815 Gold
Sophia Zhang 714 Silver
Sara Vranici 706 Silver
Julia Montesino 613 Silver
Helen Chen 718 Silver
Linda Yu 801 Bronze

Ragamuffin Parade!
The hard work and dedication of McKinley's Marching Band and Cheerleaders really showed during their spectacular performances throughout the Ragamuffin Parade! Great work to all the staff and students involved!


March Of Dimes!

I.S. 259 commemorates 9/11 with speaker, tour of school’s memorial

posted Sep 14, 2017, 12:55 PM by Joanna Gillen

From Brooklyn Reporter: Link to article
On Monday, September 11, I.S. 259 William McKinley, 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway, was host to a day filled with commemorations and lessons for its middle school students on the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Jessica Amato, an English teacher at the school, arranged for 9/11 Memorial Museum docent Sharyn Yansko to speak to students about the attack that claimed thousands of lives, going into detail with slideshows and stories of the day that 19 terrorists hijacked four airplanes, two of which slammed into the One and Two World Trade Center.

“As an American and a New Yorker, I was outraged that we were attacked and determined that we would continue our way our life and not be terrorized,” she explained.

Community leaders and elected officials were also on hand, including Assemblymember Pamela Harris, Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, aide to Congressmember Dan Donovan, Fran Vella-Marrone, and aide to State Senator Marty Golden, John Quaglione.

Afterwards, eighth grade students Benjamin Forni and Jeanie Tramontano gave students and guests a tour of the school’s impressive and touching memorial and mural that pay tribute to both the victims and the heroes of 9/11 who lost their own lives attempting to save others. The mural, created by students, teachers and alumni, took years to complete and was unveiled in 2012.

The mural begins on the third floor with a painting of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, leading into a hallway that features poems, art, and the names of fallen heroes.

“Students painted the American flag and it took them months to get every line straight and get it right,” said Tramontano. “One of the poems,” she added, “says ‘All gave some and some gave all.’ This means that everyone tried to help and some gave their lives.”

In addition, a painting inspired by Michelangelo — also created by students — represents how individuals tried to help those in need. A firefighter’s helmet is also painted on one of the walls with the number 343, the number of firefighters that died on 9/11.Several fragments from the World Trade Center that were donated to the school were also on display, including steel, glass and a cross found at Ground Zero.

Quaglione was impressed by the students’ eagerness to learn. “It’s hard to believe that children in middle school were born after September 11,” he said. “For them, it is just something in the history books. To bring it here, tell a personal story and show pictures of people that actually died and to hear about the heroism is special, because you don’t want it ever to happen again.”

“The museum is going to be so impressed,” added Yansko. “On my way out, I want to take pictures of the mural. These kids are fabulous. The fact the school has its own memorial and mural is just astounding. I’m really surprised and pleased because that’s a living way to remember as kids walk past it all the time. They’ll never say they never heard of it.”

I.S. 259 students remember the fallen on Memorial Day during annual ceremony

posted Jun 13, 2017, 9:57 AM by Joanna Gillen

Article From Brooklyn Reporter
By Jaime DeJesus   - 
Wednesday, May 24, 2017  - 2:04 PM

A local school again paused to remember the country’s fallen heroes.

        I.S. 259 William McKinley, 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway, held its annual Memorial Day tribute on Tuesday, May 23, featuring patriotic students reciting touching poems for soldiers that lost their lives fighting for their country’s freedom, performances from the school’s marching band and concert string orchestra, and appearances by veterans, elected officials and community leaders.
        The event’s organizer Jessica Amato was proud of both her students and the community. “I am always amazed at the great support we get as we interact with everyone in the community and engage in one room to teach our students and all of us the importance of Memorial Day and why we shouldn’t take our freedoms for granted,” she said. “I always learn something new from my students when we put together programs like this.”
        “For many of us, Memorial Day represents the beginning of the summer season,” added Principal Janice Geary. “Many of us have barbecues, stay outside and go on vacation. However, none of these activities would be possible without our veterans who served and gave their lives to this country so we can be free and enjoy those simple pleasures.”
        Councilmember Vincent Gentile, a McKinley alumni, was also in attendance. “It’s a pleasure to be here as Memorial Day is a day we celebrate each and every year,” he said. “This year for me it’s a little special because I’m one of the deputy grand marshals for the parade.”
He also discussed the importance of the day. “If you pick up a newspaper and read about what’s going on in the world, you realize what freedoms we have and how we fought to get those freedoms and that many people gave their lives so we can get them,” he said. “Each and every year, this school takes time out to mark Memorial Day and as a graduate of McKinley, I appreciate you remembering this day.”
        “We’re here to remember those that fought for our freedom that didn’t come back and made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Fran Vella-Marrone, who represented Congressmember Dan Donovan. “These were people that went off and gave their life for people they didn’t know or ever meet, like you and me. They died for us.”
        “Memorial Day is to honor those who have died for us,” added John Quaglione, representing State Senator Marty Golden. “They have definitely inspired all of us to come together this morning and remember all of those that have fallen and continue to inspire our nation and our people.”
Veterans also spoke to the kids, which led to an emotional portion of the program during which students named a soldier from each state who had died in the line of duty.
        “As we hear those names, it’s easy to think of them as long lost heroes, ghosts and people we can’t relate to,” said Max Rose, who served in Afghanistan as an infantry officer. “But I served with people not much older than you and it’s important to realize that they were and are human. They make mistakes, they’re afraid. But they’re courageous not just because of what they did but what they didn’t do. The times they didn’t shoot. Civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq are alive because of the courageous restraint they showed. Every day I think of the friends I served with. We thank them for their service today.”

Congratulations to our Award Winning Cafeteria Staff!

posted Jun 13, 2017, 7:51 AM by Joanna Gillen

The Billion Oyster Project

posted Jun 5, 2017, 10:17 AM by Joanna Gillen

We are proud of all of our students who have been involved in the The Billion Oyster Project this year. This program is an ecosystem restoration project which aims to restore one billion live oysters to the New York Harbor.  Oysters filter the water, provide a habitat for other species, and can reduce the force of tidal energy.  Classes at McKinley, led by Ms. Prazenica and Ms. Barrett, have joined the BOP and have an oyster restoration station at the American Veterans Memorial Pier in Bay Ridge. Their classes have been taking trips to the pier to collect data on the oysters and measure the water quality.  Data is then submitted to the BOP and the students gain a greater appreciation for our harbor. 

Keep up the great work!!

Multi-Cultural Food Festival

posted May 28, 2017, 7:18 AM by Elizabeth Urena   [ updated Jun 13, 2017, 7:41 AM by Joanna Gillen ]

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