Volume 81, Number 2 | June 9 - 15, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photos by Tequila Minsky

Lisa Reed of Tribeca with her adopted daughter from Haiti, Rose, 2. Reed’s son attends M.S. 255.

Salk School makes sweet music, raises $4,300 for Haitian schools

By Tequila Minsky

You know the party must really be happening if the cops from the 13th Precinct come by around 8:30 p.m. to tell mothers, fathers, teachers and kids to tone it down. Officers had to respond to noise complaints about the music. The scene of the crime: the courtyard of Middle School 255, the Salk School of Science, between 19th and 20th Sts., near First Ave.

The jig-punk Irish band The Prodigals, regular performers at Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar, were onstage with just a few numbers to go. Bandleader Gregory Grene, who was a humanities student teacher at M.S. 255 last year, was on the accordion. It was a fundraiser for Haiti. The cops were assured that the event was wrapping up and were placated.

When the January 2010 earthquake hit Haiti, Grene’s twin brother, Andrew, was on a United Nations mission working in Port-au-Prince. He died in the earthquake; the Hotel Christophe, where he was staying, collapsed. Just weeks before, Andrew had spoken at M.S. 255 about his work in Haiti.

This year was the second that the students, parents and teachers of Salk School held a fundraiser responding to the Haitian disaster. The fundraiser reflects the school’s very personal connection to the earthquake and is also a way for students to fulfill their community service requirement, which is needed to graduate.


Gregory Grene performed with his jig-punk band. His twin brother Andrew died in the Haitian earthquake.


Students, teachers and parents got into the act.

Parents were pulled in as volunteers, bringing food, chaperoning, mixing and selling the mocktail drinks — nonalcoholic cocktails — and cleaning up.

Salk students enjoyed dancing to the bands.

The student-made Haitian Carnival-inspired masks were on display. Mostly girls ran a booth of face painting, and boys sold Japanese Myachis — a beanbag sort of toy. Students hawked their annual literary magazine. A stall sold cards from student art.

The pièce de résistance was the musical entertainment. Six bands.

There were student bands, The Outsiders, with Ian Dennis and Nicky Young, and Kid Nothing with Jesse Tallerman, Gabe Paiano, Isabella de Fonseca and Emma Stacher.

Guitar teacher Shaun Erriciello and three students executed the dueling guitars from “Deliverance,” along with other all-guitar numbers.

There were adult bands. Salk teacher and violinist Pauline David performed with the assistant principal’s husband, Lucas Rotman, on guitar and Sarah Caswell on vocals with the Melodic Miners, a blues and pop band. Bandleader David Potts of the eponymous straight-ahead jazz quartet, which also performed, is the husband of one of the event’s main teacher organizers, Ling Teo.

Principal Rhonda Perry gave a few introductory words sharing how she was born in Trinidad and the earthquake hit close to home.

“It could have happened there,” she said.

“We have these core values what we believe in, which are important to strive for,” Principal Perry said of the school community. “Passionate and dedicated learning, being open-minded, openhearted, true to oneself, responsible to the community, and taking action to improve the world. We talk a lot about these.

“This fundraiser embodies these values,” she continued. “It is great for so many people to come together for those who continue to suffer. I’m proud of the event and honored to be here.”

After expenses, the event raised $4,300 for The Andrew Grene Foundation, set up by his brother and a friend. The foundation pays tuition for students in primary school and up in Haiti. The foundation is also building a high school in one of the poorest zones in Port-au-Prince, Cité Soleil. It’s hoped the school will be finished by late summer. A portion of the monies raised by the Salk School fundraiser is also going to tsunami relief for Japan.

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