A Modern School: P.S. 97 in Gravesend Gets New Classrooms And A Greenhouse 

A Modern School: P.S. 97 in Gravesend Gets New Classrooms And A Greenhouse 
Rendering of the new rooftop garden planned for P.S. 97 in Gravesend. (Image: NYC School Construction Authority)

A crowded Gravesend public school will get a long-awaited extension, including a new greenhouse facility and roof garden, by the fall of this year.

The $70 million addition to P.S. 97, also known as the Highlawn School in Gravesend, will add 450 new seats to the school, which has been operating significantly over-capacity and making use of four temporary classroom structures.

The 850-square-foot greenhouse and adjacent 750-square-foot roof garden, meanwhile, will be decked out with features like an irrigation system, grow lights, a hydroponic tower, and a compost tumbler. Students will use the space to grow food and learn about sustainable farming practices.

Other benefits include a renovated student cafeteria; new arts, dance and science classrooms; a new ADA-accessible entrance; and a refresh for the playground and athletic fields.

The renovation was first announced in January 2017. Construction began in July 2018 but was put on pause at the start of the pandemic. Now, local Council Member Mark Treyger says he has successfully pushed the city’s Office of Management and Budget to release the money needed to finish the project.

“This state-of-the-art greenhouse and rooftop garden will provide students an opportunity to learn how food is grown and the values of environmental stewardship,” Treyger said in a statement announcing the news.

He framed the renovation as both part of a larger vision for establishing STEAM education across the district and an immediate health benefit for the surrounding neighborhood.

“The produce yielded by the rooftop garden and greenhouse, along with the cooking curriculum, will provide the school community and local residents access to healthy food, which leads to better health outcomes and well-being,” Treyger said.

The school’s principal, Irina Cabello, also touted the psychological benefits the new space would provide.

“The greenhouse will support our project-based ‘green’” program,” she said, “while the adjacent roof garden will also serve as a learning and reading space, as well as a place for students and staff to practice mindfulness in the beautiful open-air environment.”