Bloneva Bond Primary School made official in Falls – Niagara Gazette

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Cloudy. Low near 40F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph.
Updated: November 20, 2021 @ 1:30 am
Niagara Falls, New York
James Neiss/staff photographerNiagara Street Elementary was all spruced up and ready for the start of the new school year in 2018. The building could be sporting a new name at the start of next year — Dr. Bloneva Bond Primary School — following a vote next week.

James Neiss/staff photographerNiagara Street Elementary was all spruced up and ready for the start of the new school year in 2018. The building could be sporting a new name at the start of next year — Dr. Bloneva Bond Primary School — following a vote next week.
The times are changing for Niagara Street Elementary School. The Niagara Falls City School District Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to rename the school Dr. Bloneva Bond Primary School, effective Sept. 1, 2022.
The name change was motivated by Men Standing Strong Together and members of the Black community who came to the board and requested that schools be renamed for Black leaders. The process is complicated and costly enough the board decided to proceed with one school for this year.
Bond was the first African American woman to serve on the Niagara Falls City School District Board of Education. She was a member of the board from 1979 to 1984.
School Board Member Clara Dunn sat on the committee that settled on naming the school for Bond.
Dunn ran for the board and didn’t get in only to later be appointed when Robert Restaino left to become mayor.
“I felt good because some of the odds against me made me think I was like her,” Dunn said. “She wanted kids to learn, to listen and to be important. This honor is definitely what she stood for.”
One particular voice on the committee stood above the others for Dunn, that of Aiden Robins, a student representative.
“He impressed me when he said that she really stood out,” Dunn said. “He said, ‘I don’t know any of the people but going over the resumes and accomplishments she really stood out.”
Dunn said Emma Asklar, another student rep had an equally impressive voice.
Joe Sbarbati was also a member of the committee that selected Bond. He’s vice president with Community Missions, where he has served for 38 years.
“We chose her because of the things she did for the community,” he said. “We named the school for someone who was a role model. I was highly impressed by everything I heard and read about her.”
Bond was the founder and a charter member of the New York State Community Action Program (NYCAP) Board of Directors, served on the Niagara Coalition, was active with the Council of Christians and Jews (now the National Federation for Just Communities of WNY, Inc.), served on the United Way of Niagara Central Budget Committee, the Niagara Community Center Scholarship Committee, and the Congress of Racial Equality.
She was also an admired and respected member of New Hope Baptist Church.
Among those who spoke during the meeting was Ken Hamilton who said he was in possession of Bond’s personal effects and would be giving them to the school for display.
“Mrs. Bond earned every accolade she received,” Hamilton said. “She wasn’t afraid to speak to white people and chew you out. It’s why I come up here from time to time and chew you out. She was my role model.”
Don King, former school board president, stepped to the podium to applaud the memory of his friend.
“Mrs. Bond was a giant in every sense of the word,” he said. “She was an educational giant in the way she took a position and she held it.”
Pastor Harvey Kelley of New Hope said while Bond was a church member, and he was her pastor, she was also his friend.
“She was the kindest, most gentle and most charitable person,” Rev. Kelley said. “She walked with great men and women from around the world but she never lost the common touch.”
She was a member of the Niagara Falls Council of Churches and People for Progress. She was also appointed by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to the New York State Health Council and the Health Planning Commission.
In addition, she served on the Niagara Falls Bicentennial Committee and a minority task force at the Niagara Chapter of the American Red Cross. Bond was awarded a Doctor of Humanities Degree from Niagara University in 1988, and she was twice the recipient of the Levy Brothers Award for Community Service.
Bond owned and operated a beauty salon and worked as a social worker for Niagara County for 17 years. During the 1971 uprising at Attica Prison, Bond worked on behalf of the prisoners in their negotiations with the authorities on their fundamental rights to human dignity. She passed away in 2004.
Participating in the committee were board members Russ Petrozzi, Dunn, and Jim Cancemi, who worked with community members the Rev. Fred Chambers, the Rev. Joseph Jones, King, Christopher Murgia, Sbarbati, Ezra Scott, Rodney Sheard (MSST), and Niagara Falls High School students Robins and Asklar. The group met three times and researched several individuals.
The board will apply to the State Education Department to make the name change and plan opening ceremonies for the fall.
Superintendent Mark Laurrie said the next step will be hard work. Planning the transition.
“This needs to be the celebration of the year for this school and these students,” Laurrie said. “This is going to be done professionally and right and we will leave no stone unturned.”
The Niagara Falls City School District Board of Education will cast a vote Thursday, Nov. 18…
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