The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

A sound like municipal dentistry

with 2 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

P.S. 70, an elementary school on 42nd street here in Astoria, is receiving a facelift, general maintenance, and repairs to its roof. Building inspectors have recommended a series of minor repairs to the structure, and 2009 being a local election year, all the project works are being worked on in tandem concurrence.

So as not to disturb classes during the day, all the work is being done after dark, beginning at 4PM and ending at 11PM- as observed. Omnipresent is its sound, as is my kvetching about it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Undoubtedly- the availability of Federal Stimulus monies hurried the normally glacial pace of city services in initiating the project, but the work is vulnerable to weather events- especially high winds- and performing it in winter will prolong the ordeal.

On most nights, the sound of masonry drills and other high speed equipment broadcast along the rooftops, manifesting an inescapable staccato of high pitched grinding which reminds me of childhood trips to a certain Percocet addled dentist that my family insisted on using.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sound penetrates through the walls of my nonagenarian Matthews Model Flat, causing no end of discomfort to Zuzu, my little dog. Of course- the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one, as Spock said (or will say), and at least the work stops at 11.


The Lt Joseph Petrosino School serves 1,139 students from pre kindergarten through 5th grades. Hispanic children make up 44% of the student body, 33% are White, almost 22% are Asians and the remaining 2% are Black. More than two-thirds of this year’s students are English language learners, an 18% increase from last year for this group. Most newly enrolled second language students have arrived from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Mexico.

There are self-contained English as second language classes at kindergarten, and ingrades 1, 3 and 4, with two in the 2nd grade. In addition, there is one Spanish bilingual class, in both kindergarten and 1st grade. Approximately 9% of enrolled students are special education students, with 4% of these in self-contained classes in grades 2 and 5. The remaining 5% of special education students are in collaborative team teaching classrooms in kindergarten and 1st grades, or are in general education classes and receive support from resource room specialists.

There are top classes in grades 1 through 5.Classes are housed in the main building, a mini school and two transportable units, which are all adjacent. School attendance is 94.6%, which is 2.5% above that of similar schools and 1.8% above City schools. This is a Title 1 school with almost 82% of the students being eligible, slightly less than similar schools but almost 10% above the City school average.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Astoria

Tagged with , ,

2 Responses

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  1. Hi Mitch,

    I’m a fellow Astorian and I just came across your site tonight. I drove by Calvary today as I drove along Greenpoint Avenue and was fascinated and wanted to get more information. I had heard of it back when I was studying history and yet never realized it was so close by. Your pictures have inspired me to explore it more (even if my ungothicness makes cemeteries feel exceedingly creepy).

    Anyway, I love the blog and will be sure to check back often!

    Best wishes,


    December 2, 2009 at 2:23 am

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