The Revival of FSSA’s School Events: Block Party

by Jordyn Benda and Andrea Morelos

with Maya Held, Kailee Ortiz

FSSA students celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month at the school’s first annual Block Party last week. Photo by Sanskrita Sahu.

Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) officially turned over a new leaf with post-Covid school events. On Friday, September 16th, FSSA hosted a block party on 35th Street in Astoria, NY, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the start of the new school year by inviting students from surrounding schools — including The Baccalaureate School for Global Education, P.S. 166Q, and Our World Neighborhood Charter School.

On top of highlighting Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrating FSSA’s talented student body, Mr. Frankel, FSSA’s principal, was excited to bring energy back into the community with live music, activities and food. Since the shutdown in 2019, Sinatra hasn’t been able to host the same amount of shows or activities that they usually would. 

“This is a particularly exciting year because I think it’s really the year that we’ll bounce back and do some really fun things together,” he said.

Fogo Azul, a Brazilian-American drum line performed at the party. Image by Sanskrita Sahu.

An open-mic showcase and musical performances by groups such as Fogo Azul, a Brazilian-American Style drum line, awakened a newfound school spirit for both students and the performers themselves. There was also a DJ, an obstacle course for the elementary school students, and a now infamous dunk tank for the staff. Staff members, including Fine Arts teacher Mr. Liebeskind, math teacher Mr. Pupplo, Mr. Vazquez — Artistic Director and Production Manager of FSSA — and senior Instrumental major Alex Campos participated in the dunk tank alongside Mr. Frankel.

As people from the neighborhood caught wind of the party, the Frank Sinatra event transformed into an event for the entire community. FSSA Art majors who volunteered to face paint were glued to their seats interacting with elementary school students from the neighborhood. 

FSSA senior art major, Inka Bodnar painted faces for the kids. Image by Sanskrita Sahu.

“They were so cute and they let me paint their faces,” said Inka Bodnar, an FSSA senior art major. 

Some students hoarded around the dunk tank waiting for a chance to dunk one of their favorite teachers or visited one of the several food kiosks that were maintained by FSSA staff serving cotton candy, popcorn, hot dogs, and dozens of empanadas further fueling the festivities.

Sarah Weingarten, a senior art major, animatedly shared her experience at the event.

“Waiting in line having students help out and volunteer, also just having interactive stuff, helps build community,” she said. 

Mekaeli Cox, an FSSA senior vocal major shared her excitement.

“I want to take advantage of all the opportunities [this year], I can hang out with my friends and make memories for my last year,” she said.

The event was so big that Mr. Vazquez and school officials worked to have the street outside of FSSA shut down, something not many New York schools can do.

This was truly a community event with students from schools around the neighborhood. Image by Sanskrita Sahu.

“Our community is too big and the neighborhood we’re in, it’s too crazy to do that right now, it’s too crowded,” said a Laguardia High School senior who showed up at the event.

Cecilia, a sophomore visual art major from Baccalaureate School of Global Education expressed her excitement being at the event.

“It’s crazy, it’s absolutely fun and crazy. I mean we get to enjoy ourselves, it’s just amazing,” she said. 

It was a near miss for Mr. Frankel in the dunk tank. Image by Sanskrita Sahu.

Mr. Frankel provided further details on how the idea of a dunk tank was initially formed five years ago.

In 2017, during Mr. Frankel’s first year as principal of FSSA, Hurricane Harvey hit multiple southern states, devastating communities and leaving numerous deaths. The school hosted a fundraiser for the victims and the idea of a dunk tank was born. The idea of a teacher dunk tank actually came from Mr. Vazquez.

“Andre was like, ‘One day we’ll have a dunk tank— and you’ll get to dunk the principal’…five years later, he made it happen,” Mr. Frankel stated. 

The event was such a success that Mr. Frankel said he hopes to feature it annually and that the event will continue to grow each year.