Documenting History: The Students of St. Thomas the Apostle

For the past few months, the students of St. Thomas the Apostle in Woodhaven have been working on a video history of the community --they have been working after school, during lunch and on weekends.  The Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society sponsored the project by donating copies of Vincent Seyfriend's History of Woodhaven & Ozone Park.  Under the leadership of Ms. Patti Eggers, the students read the book and developed a timeline and questions for local business, civic and political leaders. 

The project attracted a lot of attention along the way: Queens Tribune ("Woodhaven Film Set to Premiere"), Queens Chronicle ("Students Document Woodhaven History"), The Forum (Lights, Camera, Action! Woodhaven Student Filmmakers Ready to Hit Red Carpet"), New York Daily News ("Woodhaven Students Produce Documentary Exploring Neighborhood's History"), and an after-premiere report in The Forum ("St. Thomas the Apostle Students Debut Woodhaven History Film.")  They were also featured on NY1 on the day of the premiere (shown below).

We held the premiere of the film on Monday June 10th at the Cinemart Theater -- and there will be a 2nd public showing on Tuesday, June 18th in the 88th Street basement at St. Thomas the Apostle.  Admission for this showing will be $2.

Here is the trailer for the video - the coming attraction!

The video will be available for purchase - details to come.

Here are some pictures taken of the students along the way -- from the first day of filming through the triumphant premiere on the red carpet on June 10th.

The first day of filming, an interview with Elizabeth Crowley of the City Council at the Forest Park Bandshell.


Later that afternoon, the filmmakers walked over to the Greenhouse where they met with Josephine Scalia of the Parks Department. 


The students got a guided tour of the Greenhouse by Mark Ford and Adriana Jacykewycz of NYC Parks.  The Greenhouse in Forest Park provides the greenery is many of the Greenstreets displays around NYC. 



The students met with Joseph Schmidt, who has been a lawyer in Woodhaven for many years.  His brother was the Hon. Frederick D. Schmidt.  Picture courtesy of Michael Mariano, class of 2013.


The students visited Maria Thomson on the offices of the GWDC.  Picture courtesy of Michael Mariano, class of 2013.


One of our sponsors, Assemblyman Mike Miller, met with the students.  Photo courtesy of Maryann Maltese.

The students also interviewed Eric Ulrich of the City Council.


I got my turn in front of the camera - the students asked very thoughtful questions!


The filmmakers visited the American Legion Post 118 on the day they were erecting the Garden of Remembrance.  They also took a tour of the interior.


After the American Legion they made their way up to the Forest Park Carousel where they interviewed Daeshawn Grimes, Operations Manager for the historic ride.


Eventually, the last day of filming was upon us -- there were a large number of people the students still wanted to interview -- they just ran out of time.  Could there be a sequel in the works?  On the last day of filming the student filmmakers interviewed Leonora Lavan and Allan Smith of the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society.



They also interviewed Senator Joesph Addabbo -- whose father was a beloved Congressman representing Woodhaven for many years.


With filming completed, and over 15 hours of interviews in the can, the massive job of editing was underway.


On Monday, June 10th, the day of the premiere, NY1 visited St. Thomas the Apostle School and interviewed some of the students involved in the project and filed this report:

The premiere kicked off with a reception for the Woodhaven Historical Society and sponsors of the project at the Cinemart Cafe next to the theater.  Note:  For information on booking the Cinemart Theater and/or cafe, please email:



These folks have made numerous contributions to Woodhaven and its history over the years and we were glad to see them at the premiere.


Then it was on to the movies!  We filed into the theater next door and handed out the program, which you can see here -- 

Program 2 by projectwoodhaven

Here, the students get settled for the film -- by the time the film started, the theater was packed!


The project and the grand premiere would not have been possible without our sponsors, some of whom were in attendance and received certificates -- from left to right, William Johnert, Eilish Higgins, Giedra Kregzdys, Gene McCauley, Joana Gonzalez, Lawrence Gore, Paul Hammerschmidt, and accepting on behalf of Assemblyman Mike Miller, Leilani Blira-Koessler.  Other sponsors (not pictured) included Mary and Andrew Berg, Mary & Dennis Farley,  Frank Farrell, Marilyn Kulis, Jason Kramer, Asta Lukosevicius, Jeanne Parrinello, Helen and Richard Poelker, Dolored Royere, Joseph Schmidt, and William Swedish.  Many thanks to ALL of our sponsors who supported this project from the start.  Those sponsors not in attendance will get certificates -- plus a complimentary copy of the film -- in a few weeks.  Once again, thank you!

Next, we had a ceremony with the students walking the red carpet to receive their certificates -- Ms. Patti Eggers was the Master of Ceremony.


Here is a nice video of the premiere -- complete with a blessing and the red carpet ceremony.


Here are some pictures of the red carpet ceremony --


And finally, a few group pictures -- many of these students will be graduating this weekend and leaving St. Thomas the Apostle.  We offer thanks and congratulations and wish them all the very best of luck.


And special thanks go to Bob Bermingham, pictured here with his wife Maureen on the red carpet, who works so well with the students in the video room.  Click here to see the latest videos from St. Thomas.

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Photos by Joey Wendell