The foundation of every great civilization is the education of its youth, and perhaps no locale in New York City takes this cause as seriously as District 26 — just ask any house hunter in northeast Queens.
But this wasn't always the case, especially in the early days of the Little Neck's history, when only the offspring of the rich who could afford to send their children to the learning academies in Manhattan were formally educated.
"Then in 1865, the first Elementary school opened up on Little Neck Parkway, just south of Northern Boulevard, which was ," said Irene Mulhall, former Parent Teacher Association president at .
According to Mulhall, the original school would later become part of the New York City public school system when Queens was incorporated into the five boroughs. The school has since consistently been rated one of the city's best.
"It wasn't until 1914 though, when the increase in our local population demanded a bigger facility that a new school would be built," Mulhall said. "That school was built at the present location of P.S. 94 along Little Neck Parkway, just north of Northern."
Almost 100 years after being built, P.S. 94, also known as David D. Porter Elementary, has received several facelifts. Despite those outward changes, the institution still adheres to the educational values of the past, according to Mulhall.
"This school and others like it in the area lay the foundation for scholastic success at a young age, and this is what makes moving into [Little Neck ZIP code] 11362 very appealing," said Joan Garippa, a member of Community Board 11 since the 1980s.
"Parents moving here and those currently living in the area place an extremely high priority on their children’s education,” Garippa said. “The local schools always rise to the challenge, particularly P.S. 94.”
Named after Admiral David D. Porter, commander of the Mississippi Flotilla, which was the Union Naval Squadron operating on the western rivers during the Civil War, P.S. 94 harkens back to Little Neck's nautical roots.
"It serves to remind us that revolves around the waters of Little Neck bay," Mulhall said.
Today P.S. 94 is part of one of the highest performing school districts in New York City and, as of February 2011, was awarded a 10 out of 10 by GreatSchools Inc. — a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire and guide parents on how to become effective champions of their children's education.
“We've always been lucky and attracted principals and teachers who keep academic standards high," Garippa said. “That’s key.”