Many Queens residents enjoy the natural beauty, peace and tranquility of Brookville Park, the quiet oasis in western Rosedale, but few have taken the time to write about it. However, that seems to be changing.
After the Queens Chronicle published a story in its Nov. 17, 2011 anniversary edition highlighting the park as one of the borough’s hidden gems, the civic group that represents the green space came up with the idea to hold a “What I love about Brookville Park” essay contest for students in grades five through 12.
The winners were easy to select, according to Kangela Moore, founder of the Friends of Brookville Park, because there were only two entries. The group had hoped to select five winners, but a lackluster response prevented that.
“We did a lot of outreach, but only two people responded,” Moore said. “We hope that once people see what the contest is all about, there’ll be more interest and support next time.”
Moore, who is also the chairwoman of CB 13’s Youth and Education Committee, said the group plans to hold more essay contests in the future.
The 90-acre park, which extends from Brookville Boulevard and 232nd Street to 149th and South Conduit avenues, features a host of amenities including basketball, bocce and tennis courts, a playground, bike paths and a picnic area, a variety of wildlife and a winding brook.
For winner Babalola Oluwakemi, 12, a student at JHS 231 in Rosedale who just came to this country from Nigeria one year ago, having a good time at Brookville Park is all about playing sports with her brothers, making new friends and enjoying nature. In her essay, she wrote about how she often sends pictures of herself enjoying the various amenities to her family members back in Nigeria.
“Another reason I favor the park is the pond, even though I can’t feed the ducks,” Oluwakemi wrote. “The ducks are so beautiful. What I like most about the ducks is when they float. I watch the colorful kinds of fish that swim in the crystal waters. It is very funny when they see my face and they get scared because I am bigger than them. It is a very beautiful sight.”
Jackie Wilson, who is the dean at JHS 231 and a member of CB 13’s Youth and Education Committee, said he couldn’t be prouder of Oluwakemi, for demonstrating both her creativity and reminding others why parks are so important to the community.
“Any time a student in the community wins an award, I’m happy, because it means they are participating in community activities, but when it’s someone from my own school, I’m smiling,” Wilson said. “When you hear their reports, think back to when you were a little boy or a little girl and what you used to do in the park.”
For winner Thalia Suguilema, 14, a student at Preparatory Academy for Writers in Jamaica, the greenspace is a place to get fresh air and exercise.
“I remember staring at the horizon of the sun layer upon the small hill in the park,” she wrote. “I loved the pond in the park, watching the reflection of my face every time I looked into the water.”
In her essay, Suguilema also recalled how she had carved her name into a tree during one visit. “I remember drawing a heart that said Thalia + Daddy.”
Oluwakemi and Suguilema received certificates for their winning essays at the Monday night CB 13 meeting at St. Clare’s Church in Rosedale. They will also get to collectively plan a youth event at Brookville Park in the summer and received four tickets to the UniverSoul Circus.