Tag Archives: Academy for Careers in Television and Film

‘Scarves for Zoë’ Facebook page started for Glendale teen with cancer

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Zoë Bonowitz, 14, decided to start wearing a scarf early this September. It was not because she was too cold or for a fashion statement but for a reason only revealed when she takes the scarf off.

It covers up an immense scar where doctors removed part of her thyroid and the cancerous tumor growing on it — Zoë’s third cancer surgery.

Zoë began wearing a scarf to cover the scar, but also manages to wear a smile despite her medical travails.

“If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen,” she said. “That’s life. You just have to keep things positive.”

To show their support, her family all started wearing scarves. But her aunt, Patricia Molina, went one step further.

“I decided to take a picture with a scarf on to show my support for Zoë and when my friend Sal Pasquetti saw it, he thought it would be a good idea to ask friends to take pictures with scarves on to show their support,” Patricia Molina, Bonowitz’s aunt, said. “So, I started a Facebook page and the support took off.”

The Facebook page, Scarves for Zoë, has become a worldwide hit, with more than 600 followers and oodles of pictures of people from all over the world sporting scarves to support Zoë.

Just seeing the pictures of strangers supporting her helps to give Zoë strength.

“The fact that people take time out of their day to support me is amazing,” Zoë said. “I’m glad that people care. It helps, it honestly helps.”


When Zoë was 3, she was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer. She spent nearly a year in and out of the hospital before doctors removed the kidney along with the eight-pound tumor that sat on it.

But it wasn’t over then.

When she was 8, Zoë was told she had cancer in the other kidney. Doctors soon after removed a quarter of that organ.

Now at 14, functioning with only three-fourths of a kidney, she is fighting her thyroid cancer.

“Nobody likes being told they have cancer,” Zoë  said. “But I’m fine. What happens, happens, you just have to fight through it.”

And she has.

With the successful removal of the thyroid, Zoë is waiting to have radioactive iodine therapy. She will stay in isolation for a week while on the medication and when it’s over, doctors will be able to tell if they fully removed the cancer.

But as she fights, Zoë is pursuing her dream of becoming a professional storyboard artist.

She currently attends the Academy for Careers in Television and Film, and draws comics and writes her own stories about the drawings in her spare time. It is something that she has done for as long as she can remember and said it helps her to keep calm throughout her situation.

The overwhelming support that she has received from the Facebook page is helping her through her fight, but the positive outlook she has on life has been what has kept her going.

She said it’s a lesson everyone should learn.

“You can’t worry about the hardships life throws at you,” Zoë said. “I’ve been through this already. I mean, what’s the big deal?  It’s just cancer.”



Eight Queens schools chosen for new program

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Eight Queens public schools have been named to participate in an innovative redesign that bends the traditional protocols, officials announced on Monday.

School Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), announced that 62 schools citywide were selected to participate in the Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) program for the 2014-2015 school year.

The PROSE program was created as part of a new contract between the UFT and the Department of Education (DOE). The program allows participating schools to deviate from the rules and regulations of the UFT and DOE, and allows them to implement their innovative plans, such as staggering the school days to meet student needs, changing the contractually required student-to-teacher ratio, and using a new teacher rating system.

“Real change happens when educators are empowered to develop the best, tailored strategies to help their students succeed,” Fariña said. “At dozens of schools across the city, these educators have come forward with new, innovative practices that can serve as a guide for all of our school communities and brighten the classroom experience for every child.”

Fariña and Mulgrew, along with First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, launched PROSE by inviting all public schools to apply. By May 1, 107 schools had applied and after being reviewed by a panel of representatives, 62 schools were chosen. Support teams at the DOE will closely monitor the selected schools to make sure that proposed plans will be implemented successfully, and that any proposed plans benefit the teachers and students and comply with relevant state regulations.

“I’m proud of the New York City public school system and all the schools that took part in the PROSE program,” said Mulgrew. “Innovations like this will move education forward not just in New York, but around the country. Teachers, principals, parents and the entire school community working together will truly advance education.”

The Queens schools selected are:

  • Academy for Careers in Television and Film
  • International High School
  • Middle College High School at LaGuardia Community College
  • North Queens Community High School
  • PS71 Forest Elementary
  • The Flushing International High School
  • The International High School for Health Sciences
  • Voyages Preparatory South Queens




Majority of Queens schools score well on progress reports

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The majority of Queens schools scored high on the Department of Education’s (DOE) recently released progress reports.

Out of the 62 Queens high schools that were issued 2012-2013 progress reports, 31 earned As, 16 Bs, 6 Cs, 5 Ds and 4 Fs.

The highest scoring institution was Long Island City’s Academy for Careers in Television and Film, which just moved into a new building at the beginning of this school year. It received an overall score of 100.9.

Flushing High School, Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School in Far Rockaway and August Martin High School in Jamaica earned overall failing grades.

Progress reports were issued for 239 Queens elementary and middle schools. Fifty-eight of them earned As, 97 Bs, 74 Cs, nine Ds and only one, Springfield Gardens’ Community Voices Middle School, failed.

Waterside School for Leadership in Rockaway was the highest ranking Queens middle school, with an overall score of 90.3, and P.S. 203 Oakland Gardens was the top-rated elementary school in the borough, with an overall score of 86.5.

Across the city, the DOE found public school performance “remained consistent, with 87 percent of schools maintaining their grade or moving one grade compared to last year.”

The reports are based on students’ progress, performance, attendance and surveys of parents, students and teachers. High school progress reports also measure college and career readiness.

According to the DOE, more students are graduating from high school ready for college and careers.

The reports found that the four-year college readiness rate is up nearly 3 points since last year.

“The most important job of our schools is ensuring students are on track to succeed in college and their careers,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “These results are further evidence that the hard work of our teachers and principals is paying off.”

This year’s school progress reports were the last ones issued during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure.

They could see some changes when they are issued under the Bill de Blasio administration.

“While Mayor-elect de Blasio supports making overall school progress reports available to parents, he would eliminate letter grades of schools which offer little real insight to parents and are not a reliable indicator of how schools are actually performing,” his spokesperson Lis Smith said.

To find a specific school’s progress report, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ProgressReport.



Hunter’s Point South school building opens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


Lights, camera, action on the new school year and the opening of a brand new school building in Long Island City.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott met with local elected officials, representatives and school leaders on Monday to take a tour of the new Hunter’s Point Campus, located at 1-50 51st Avenue, on the first day of classes.

During the walk through the building, Walcott visited a special education, middle school and high school classroom to meet with students and view their lessons.

“The Hunter’s Point Campus offers a state-of-the-art facility for students and staff,” said Walcott. “There are brand new science rooms at the middle school and students at the Academy for Careers in Television and Film have a unique vista of Manhattan from the building’s terrace that will help them perfect their filming and editing skills.”

The new school is part of the Hunter’s Point South development project which broke ground in March on the first phase of construction and opened the Hunter’s Point South Park last month. The building houses a middle school, with 12 classrooms and two special education classrooms, and The Academy for Careers in Television and Film high school, which made its move from 36-41 28th Street in Long Island City. With both schools, the building has a capacity of 1,071 students.

My whole school community,parents, students and staff alike were just blown away to come here every morning,” said Edgar  Rodriguez, principal of the Academy for Careers in Television and Film high school. “The kids are extremely happy, the staff had an amazing day. Everything turned out quite positive.”

The campus has a shared gymnasium, separate boys’ and girls’ locker rooms for both schools, a library, auditorium, tech center, speech room, cafeteria, full sized kitchen, art room, music room, science lab, prep lab, science demo rooms and resource rooms.

“We started from the bottom and now we’re here,” said high school senior Brandon Bass, 17, from Jamaica.

The high school now has 14 standard classrooms, two special educations classrooms and a student general store.

“The new school is nice, it’s awesome,” said senior Justin Bruggemann, 18, from Flushing. “I love it. I’m excited for the school year.”

Walcott also participated in a practice filming session with the students on the school’s fourth floor balcony which overlooks the Manhattan skyline.

“It feels great, it’s a big change. It’s all brand new,” said senior Lesley Ptacek, 16, from Jackson Heights. “It’s great we’re meeting the Chancellor and showing him what we have learned.”