News: Ringling Bros. Retire Controversial Act, a Beloved Bookstore's New Home and One School Dumps Homework

3/18/15 - By Alina Adams

The arrival of spring isn't the only thing greening NYC these days! We've got details on a contest to improve school green spaces. Plus, Ringling Bros. plans to retire a controversial act, one NYC public school completely reimagines homework, destination kids' stores on the move and, just as things are warming up, Disney won't let winter go with confirmation of this sequel.


The grand reopening! After suffering major damage during Hurricane Sandy, the Rockaway Beach Roller Hockey Rink is finally being rebuilt after receiving the necessary funds from the New York City Council and FEMA. Over $1 million will go toward reconstruction of the popular community space and the surrounding park. The overhauled rink will feature a new skating surface, dasher boards, lighting, pathways, benches, drinking fountains and seating. Work is expected to begin immediately with a completion date of summer 2016.

On the move... After decades in its original 112th Street and Broadway location, kid-lit haven the Bank Street Bookstore has relocated five blocks south to a cozier (and less expensive!) spot. Formerly two stories, the shop is now just one floor. However, there is still plenty of space for families to sit and read together, a top-notch selection of children's books and a jam-packed lineup of FREE special events like author readings and puppet shows.

Meanwhile, after years of rumors, it looks like Toys R Us may close its Times Square megastore by the end of year. There are reports that the toy giant won't be renewing its lease, however the retailer has yet to confirm saying, "The lease for our store in Times Square expires in 2016 and, as previously noted, we have been reviewing our lease renewal options." Don't be too worried, word is even if it does close it may only move a few blocks north to 1535 Broadway. Hopefully the Ferris wheel and T.rex will relocate, too.

Disney's not letting go just yet. Frozen fans will be ecstatic to Frozen 2 is officially in development! The original creative team, including directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, and creative adviser John Lasseter, are returning. No word yet on the cast, but it wouldn't be Frozen without Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel.

Big changes for the circus. After years of controversy and PETA protests, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have announced that elephants are being phased out of their shows. The goal is to be completely elephant-free by 2018. Animals rights activists have called for a shorter timeline, but Kenneth Feld, president of Feld Entertainment, Ringling's parent company, stated that the elephants cannot be retired until the company finishes construction on the 200-acre private park in Florida that is intended to house them all.

Green your school's playground. Does your elementary student have a super-cool idea about how to improve her school's green space? If so, encourage her to enter Scholastic's "Be a Backyard Superhero" essay and illustration contest. Teachers or parents have until April 13 to submit their students' or children's 150- to 200-word composition detailing how TurfMutt and the Outdoor Powers can combat environmental villains like Carbon Creep, Dust Demon, Dr. Runoff and Heat Freak. Two eligible schools will earn $5,000 to improve their outdoor green spaces!
No more homework? Well, not quite. PS 116 in Murray Hill recently decided to phase out "busy" work in an effort to give students more time to play and hang out with their families. Homework has been turned into a more fun experience, offering students bingo cards and menus with assignment options to choose from, like playing chess with a parent, writing a poem on a prescribed subject or measuring a household object. While some parents at the school welcome the change, others have expressed doubts about the plan's efficacy and wonder whether students will fall behind. The new homework plan got a lot of media attention and was even discussed at a recent Community Education Council District 2 meeting. What do you think? Tell us how you'd greet this homework change at your child's school in the comments.

[Phptp: Flickr user brady_johnson]