PS 117 Graduation Saved By Chamber

BY LUIS GRONDA
Staff Writer

The students of PS 117 will have graduation memories after all.

The kids at the Briarwood-based elementary school will have their graduation ceremony this year, after a group, led by the Queens Chamber of Commerce, put together funding to pay for the school’s graduation in June.

The graduation was in doubt after $30,000 was discovered missing from the school’s Parent Teacher Association fund. How that money went missing is still under investigation.

The Chamber of Commerce, along with a Facebook group called The Briarwood Latchkey Generation, raised about $7,000 for the ceremony.

The money will help pay for caps, gowns, the yearbook and other costs associated with the graduation.
Jack Friedman, the executive director of the Chamber, said he put out a call to its members to drum up some funds so that the kids can have a graduation that every parent and child would want when they graduate.

“This is proof to the pudding that our businesses respond when called upon,” he said.

Donations came from six of its members, including Melrose Credit Union, New York Community Bank and TD Bank.

The Briarwood Latchkey Generation Facebook group also contributed to making the school’s reality once again. The group is made up of several Briarwood residents who graduated from PS 117.

Nick Tomizawa, an area resident who founded the Facebook group in 2009, said the funding shows the power social media has on resolving an issue like PS 117’s graduation. The group raised about $1,000 for the ceremony.

“I’m very happy for the graduating class,” Tomizawa said. “It was a relatively small amount of money to make a lot of people very happy.”

Nicole Lopez, who has a son in the fifth grade, was also ecstatic about the graduation, saying that she can now tell her son that they will indeed have a ceremony.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com, or @luisgronda.