Ceremony Commemorates Historic Library Desk

By Jasmine Kingston ’15

Our history lives on through a solid oak desk much older than most of us. After months of hard work and dedication, Mr. Eric Tupone and his father-in-law, Thomas Valentino, have brought back into existence the old library desk that sat idle in Room 346 for the past seven years.

“Words cannot express how I feel about this,” said Ms. Janice Pumelia, who came up with the idea of restoring the desk. She loved the idea of keeping the Midwood tradition alive. It is a major part of her legacy in this school.

On February 3, 2014, a ceremony was held in appreciation for Mr. Tupone and Mr. Valentino’s work. Though Mr. Tupone wasn’t expecting a ceremony, he was excited that it was going to take place.

He said, “Just because something is old, doesn’t mean it can’t be used.”

Because of its size, the 10 feet long, four feet wide, and four feet high desk was brought to the new library in pieces.
The ceremony wasn’t able to take place in the new library, where the desk is, because of noxious fumes from snow blowers that day. Therefore, it was held in the old library. There, members of the English Department, some library staff, Mr. and Mrs. Valentino, and Mr. Michael McDonnell gathered in celebration of the completed craftsmanship.

Katrina Bakhl ’15 said it stood out when she walked in.

Ms. Pumelia started the ceremony off expressing deep gratitude to Mr. Tupone and Mr. Valentino. Mr. McDonnell followed and so did Ms. Wendy Guida.

“It’s not a piece of wood, it’s a piece of history,” said Ms. Pumelia.

Ms. Guida informed all in attendance that funds raised by the Alumni Association are to be bestowed upon the two craftsmen as an honorarium. These funds were collected in honor of Gladys Bernstein towards the library. Ms. Bernstein was a Social Studies teacher here for many years, her father-in-law was the second principal of Midwood, her children are alumna of Midwood, and her granddaughter, Sabrina Bernstein ’16, is currently a student here.

Mr. Tupone later praised the custodial staff for help with the clearing up. Mr. Valentino surprised Ms. Pumelia with a gavel and sounding block. He also made three-square pieces of wood out the old desk that could not be restored. It was a spot on the surface of the old desk, worn from books passed back and forth on it. She gladly accepted it with a huge grin. Ms. Pumelia plans to use one of the pieces as a plaque for the desk showing appreciation to Mr. Tupone and Mr. Valentino. Mrs. Valentino playfully brought to everyone’s attention that patches were left on the desk because of problems bringing the pieces in. She assured everyone that Mr. Tupone would get to it and by the time he’s done, the errors will no longer exist.

Lastly, Mr. Tupone and Mr. Valentino were presented with certificates for their “generous labor of love in the preservation of Midwood High School history.”
The desk resides in the center of the new library for all to see.

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