Local School Activists Honored with Manhattan Youth Community Awards

Manhattan Yourth Community Awards went to PS 150 parents, from left, Lisa Midyette, Buxton Midyette, Jonah Benton and, for his mother Anshal Purohit, 4th grader Rain Aidasani. Wendy Chapman, right, and Councilwoman Margaret Chin helped as Rain spoke first. "I'm really proud of my mom," he said. "And happy the school didn't have to move." Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Apr. 12, 2019

Manhattan Youth honored the four key parents who orchestrated a powerhouse political and community effort that halted the planned eviction of their children’ school, PS 150 in Tribeca. It was a campaign that eventually convinced Mayor Bill de Blasio to intercede with the school’s Independence Plaza landlord giant, Vornado Realty Trust.

“When the mayor got involved we gave him a lot of credit,” Councilwoman Margaret Chin said during the Thursday evening Community Awards ceremony at the Downtown Community Center. “But the credit really deserves to go to the parent organizers.“

Before the agreement was reached, the Department of Education had planned for the one-class-per-grade school to “co-locate” on a floor of the Peck Slip School, a mile away in the Seaport. Parents fought to keep the school in its home for four years, until a new school building, on Trinity Place at Edgar Street, is completed.

That core parent group, honored by Manhattan Youth, includes Lisa and Buxton Midyette, Jonah Benton and PTA co-President Anshal Purohit. (Purohit, who couldn’t be at the event, was represented by her son Rain.)

“It was looking pretty grim there at the beginning when we got the announcement that we were being evicted from the school,” Buxton Midyette said at the ceremony. “But while the developer owned the building they didn’t understand that they didn’t own the community. And what a community we have here.”

A Community Award also went to Tricia Joyce, chair of Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee, and an outspoken advocate for local school issues, especially school overcrowding.” In 2010 the education gods smiled at us and Tricia Joyce came on the community board, Paul Hovitz, vice chair of Community Board 1 and co-chair of its Youth Committee, said in his introduction. “And since then she has been electric.”

Mona Lombardi, one of the original Manhattan Youth staff members, who is retiring, received recognition from her co-workers. The organization’s registrar, who has had many different responsibilities over the years, “kept us steady,” said Manhattan Youth Executive Director Bob Townley. “She came in with a combination of hard work, intelligence, and kindness.”