Now It’s 60: Elementary School Students Celebrate the TZB’s Birthday

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birthday 2With a banner drawing of the bridge featuring their blue-and-green paint handprints for water, and creatively-fashioned cards, third grade classes at Liberty Elementary School recognized the 60th birthday of the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge Tuesday morning.

Teachers Marjan Perry, Jennifer Rhee, Deborah Barnes and Larayne Peterson helped their students make the large birthday cards with magic markers, crayons, sparklers and other arts-and-crafts supplies for the guest of honor, which was busy with traffic.

“These are awesome!” Educational Outreach Administrator Andy O’Rourke told the 75 youngsters as he held up each card. “They show a lot of thought and talent.”

“They’re terrific, and each has an artistic flavor. You did a great job with these,” Public Outreach Specialist Dan Marcy agreed. Several students raised their hands and said they either had a recent birthday have one that day or soon.

birthday 1The kids cheered upon hearing the cards are posted to the @NewNYBridge Twitter feed and are displayed at the Nyack and Tarrytown Outreach Centers.

“There’s lots of history about this bridge, and I appreciate you caring and wanting to learn about it,” O’Rourke told them. He and Marcy presented the students and teachers with a plaque thanking them for celebrating the bridge’s 60th birthday.

Marcy explained that 60 is young for a bridge, citing the George Washington Bridge (opened October 25, 1931), the Bear Mountain Bridge (opened November 27, 1924) and Brooklyn Bridge (opened 1883).

This year’s theme is “Teamwork and Innovation” and the various people involved with different jobs on the project. That the Outreach Team came to their school on the bridge’s birthday was doubly significant, teacher Marjan Perry said.

The kids enjoyed the “Project Progress” video that compressed two years’ on the river into two minutes that ended with the I Lift NY super crane placing the first girder placement (last June).

bridge birthday“When you think about it, this is probably the only significant construction they’ll see close-up in their lifetimes,” Perry said later. “They’re going to see an old bridge disappear and a new one come up, and they will in future decades look back to this day.”

“She (Marjan) talked up the project with the kids, and this helps their understanding,” Principal Ellen Rechenberger said. “It’s nice that the kids can see the progress from their backyards. Last year they (project officials) spoke with the kids, and they gave us an update.”

“I liked hearing how much fun the construction workers have,” one student said about the “Building a Landmark,” in which various crew members described their jobs. Other third-graders said, “It was fun and interesting,” “I learned a lot,” “I didn’t know there were so many jobs,” and “It was exciting.”

Perry felt its proximity to their neighborhood, and its connections to the environment and technology, aid the kids’ understanding.

“I think they get the significance of this, and it’s a positive,” she said. “I think the next time they drive over the bridge it will be powerful for them when they see it.”

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