Garden School "Hams"
This week, we applaud the members of the Amateur Radio Club at the Garden School in Jackson Heights, Queens and its faculty advisor, John Hale. Last year, the charter school received “ham radio’ equipment from the New York Hall of Science and launched an extracurricular club for kids in the sixth through twelfth grade. Twenty students are currently enrolled.
This summer, Mr. Hale received emergency messaging training - the sending and receiving of 25-word messages that are transmitted through the “national traffic system.” If someone is available to accept the “traffic,” these messages are often posted on large boards in a disaster area. Reply messages can be “trafficked” out of these areas, as well.
A number of residents of Jackson Heights and Queens have roots in Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, communication with their loved ones and friends has been completely cut off. And so, the members of this enterprising Amateur Radio Club (Station K2GS) quickly saw an opportunity to be of service to their community. They have identified two dozen “hams” on the island and sent their first messages last Thursday. With the Red Cross sending 50 additional ham radio operators to Puerto Rico, the students anticipate the possibility of expanding their “lifeline” to isolated towns and villages. It may not be the most ideal form of communication, but amateur radio continues to work and can be an effective tool in crisis situations. As one club member said, “There is no better feeling than to be able to make someone smile when you tell them their loved ones are safe.”