Tag Archives: Benjamin Cardozo

Cardozo impresses as first-ever PSAL ping-pong season draws to a close

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

For 13 years Benjamin Cardozo physics teacher Joshua Glasel has been the coordinator of the school’s table tennis club.

Glasel, who played table tennis recreationally for 16 years, had asked the school’s athletic directors for years about the sport — also known as ping-pong — being included in the PSAL. His inquiries were shut down year after year, and eventually he stopped asking.

Then, the PSAL decided to finally include the sport in its long list of athletic programs last year and administrators came to Glasel’s table tennis club to ask if he was interested in forming a team.

“I was like, ‘Finally,’” said Glasel, who is now coach of the boys table tennis team. “We’ve had a club for 13 years and we have had years like this one when we’ve had some good players, but there was nowhere to exhibit [their talents].”

The PSAL added ping-pong this year, bringing its variety of sports to nearly 30. This season started in March with just 12 schools, separated in two divisions of six teams for both boys and girls.

That was reduced to just four schools each for boys and girls in the recent city playoffs, and Cardozo’s teams survived to the semifinals where they met Stuyvesant on May 19 for a chance to go to the first-ever PSAL table tennis championship.

Cardozo’s boys team (8-2 PSAL) was shut out in the best of five matches series by Stuyvesant, 5-0, to end their season.

However, the girls team (9-1 PSAL) dominated with a 4-1 victory in their respective series to advance to the championship round. Sophomore Jenny Chen, the team’s best player, routed her opponent (11-0, 11-5, 11-3).

Chen, a six-year veteran of the sport, was influenced by friends to join the team after it was created, because of her experience playing in various leagues and tournaments outside of school. She was a member of Cardozo’s handball team, but quit to possibly help Cardozo win the first-ever ping-pong championship.

“Everyone kept telling me to join because I could make history,” Chen said. “If we win first place, [ping-pong] would be more known in the school. A lot of people make fun of ping-pong and they think it’s not a real sport, but if we could bring back a trophy, it’ll show it’s actually a pretty serious sport.”

The PSAL will move table tennis to the winter schedule, meaning teams won’t have to wait for spring 2015 for the next season. The league also plans to expand the number of schools in the divisions, which could mean more competition.

Many players are excited for the competition, but for some graduating students it’s a dream come true a little too late.

“With it more as a sport, it’s only going to expand,” senior Cardozo boys player Jingyih Lee said. “Next year there will be more competition and it’ll just bring out better players. If the sport had developed earlier, I would have had a chance to take my game to the next level.”




Cardozo boys and girls tennis teams blown away in finals

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre


A year has passed, but the results stayed the same for the Benjamin Cardozo boys and girls tennis teams in the PSAL finals.

For the second year in a row, both teams reached the Division A championship at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing.

And once again, they both lost to the same opponent from last year — Beacon.

The boys team struggled throughout the best of five matches and wasn’t able to capture a single game against Beacon, losing 5-0 at the championship Tuesday.

“It was a good season,” boys coach Peter Ciorciari said. “I have a great bunch of kids.”

Sabrina Xiong

The girls were also dominated (4-1), except for their ace, the PSAL’s top-rated girl tennis player—junior Sabrina Xiong.
Xiong handily defeated her opponent (6-1, 6-2) for the team’s only win.

Despite the team’s loss, Xiong was happy they had another good season and overall finish.

“It’s always just an honor to be in the finals,” Xiong said. “Of course it’s disappointing, because who wants to lose?”




Star of Queens: Laura Schmitt, co-president, Benjamin. N. Cardozo High School PTA

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Laura Schmitt

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Laura Schmitt is co-president of the Benjamin. N. Cardozo High School PTA.

BACKGROUND:  Schmitt grew up in Brooklyn, and now lives in Jamaica.  She is a mother of five — four boys and one girl. Her youngest daughter will be graduating from Cardozo this spring.

Schmitt is a retired dentist, and has been on various PTAs over the past 22 years.  She has been the co-president of the Cardozo PTA for the past two.

“I mostly do this for the children who don’t have parents who are actively involved,” Schmitt said. “There are a lot of children that need a voice, and that’s where I come in.”

GOALS: Currently, Schmitt is working with the PTA to raise funds to purchase a system called Parchment. This will enable students to send out all of their college application materials online and keep better track of the process.

“We have students that are not only the best in the city, but the best in the nation,” said Schmitt.   She believes that these students deserve to be provided with the tools that will keep them competitive. Another goal Schmitt and the PTA at Cardozo have is to implement the use of a transparent online grading system which she believes will better inform parents.

“Not every parent has the opportunity to go to the school for answers and some don’t know the right questions to ask,” said Schmitt.

She explains that this system is proactive in providing the information parents need.  The PTA will also have a tentative date of June 14 for a flea market to raise funds for these goals. If you are interested in being a vendor, you can contact them at Benjamincardozohspta@yahoo.com.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Schmitt’s fondest memory was being asked to speak at last year’s graduation ceremony. She explains that being asked to give a graduation speech was recognition of all of that was accomplished. Schmitt remembers feeling a special warmth for each one of the children as they came up to receive their degrees.

This year she was invited to speak again and the PTA co-president said this time is even more special because her daughter will be graduating. “She is my youngest child and it will be the culmination of my 22 years of continuous service on PTAs,” said Schmitt.

INSPIRATION: Her first inspirations for getting involved in the educational needs of children were her mother and mother in-law, who are both retired teachers. She remembers them always telling her “if you want a job done; give it to a busy person.”

“I guess having been a full-time dentist raising five children at that time made me that person,” said Schmitt.

Moreover, her co-president, Evette Ennis, whom she describes to be a caring mother with an endless supply of ideas, energy and professionalism, continues to be an inspiration to Schmitt.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Schmitt explains that although Cardozo is one of the top high schools in the city, with an excellent staff of teachers and principals, budget cuts are having an impact on the school.

“Classes are being cut and everything that has made our school great is in jeopardy,” said Schmitt.  She explained that it has been a tremendous challenge to get the community, politicians and the parents to speak up, get involved, donate, or advocate for the needs of the children.



Christ the King regains crown, wins back-to-back city championships

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Rick Atson

Follow me at @liamlaguerre

The Royals are once again wearing the city crown.

It was only two weeks ago that the Christ the King boys’ basketball team lost the Brooklyn/ Queens Conference championship game against Bishop Loughlin by nearly 20 points.

But with a renewed focus, the Royals dominated their rivals in a rematch in the CHSAA Class AA intersectional championship game Sunday to come up with a 72-61 victory at Fordham University.

“We were the underdogs coming into the game,” junior forward Travis Atson said. “People didn’t think we would win, but we surprised a lot of people.”

With the win, the Royals continued their era of dominance, becoming back-to-back city champs. Christ the King has also won four city championships in the last five years.

But in previous games recently, Loughlin posed a major threat.

The Lions defeated the Royals in two of their three meetings this season. So to win the city title, Christ the King shifted their focus to tougher defense.

“We didn’t allow any transitions,” Atson said. “We made sure everybody got back and stopped the ball.”

With about four minutes left, the Royals used a 17-3 run ignited by stifling defense to outpace Loughlin.

Sophomore guard Rawle Alkins led Christ the King with 24 points, and Atson, who had a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, was named the tournament MVP.

Atson also played tough defense, holding Loughlin senior guard Javian Delacruz to only eight points.

“Take away his offense, just the eight points that he held Javian Delacruz to, if you’ve done that, then you’ve done your job. I think that’s why he was named the tournament MVP,” Royals coach Joe Arbitello said.

The Royals will play PSAL champion Benjamin Cardozo in a Class AA state Federation semifinal on March 21 at the Times Union Center in Albany.



Queens pageant teen gets new Mustang

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Katelyn Di Salvo


Imagine walking out of school at 17 – and finding a brand new Ford Mustang waiting for you.

That’s exactly what happened to Benjamin Cardozo senior Lauren Schwartzberg on Friday.

The teen from Jamaica has been competing in pageants for the past six years.  In November of 2013 she competed in the National American Miss Pageant against contestants from over 200 cities. Each was judged on the basis of her personal introduction, resume, community service, evening gown, and interviews.  Schwartzberg came in first runner up at the pageant, behind Miss New Jersey.

But Schwartzberg walked away with more than just the title that day. She won the blue 2014 Ford Mustang convertible that her mother, Laura Schmitt, presented to her on Friday.

Schmitt waited anxiously outside the high school while decorating the two-door in balloons and bows.

“We’ve been waiting for the car since November, she has no idea it’s is finally here, she really deserves it” said a proud Schmitt.

When Schwartzberg laid eyes on the vehicle, she was overcome with joy – she ran to the car, screaming, and excitedly threw open the passenger door.

Schwartzberg, who is also very involved in various groups and clubs in her school and community and maintains an average of over 100, credits the National American Miss pageant and previous winners for helping her to come out of her shell and become a better person in and outside of school.

The teen, who hopes to be crowned Miss America one day, is applying to the BA/MD program at Brooklyn College and plans to be a doctor in the future.

“My advice to girls my age and younger is to try new things and be confident in themselves,” said Schwartzberg.



Some Queens students eligible for up to $1K in scholarships

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A total of up to $9,000 in scholarships is on the table for some community-minded Queens students.

School District 26 scholars, from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, have until March 28 to enter a contest to compete for $250 to $1,000 in prizes.

Elementary youngsters are asked to draw pictures of their favorite school activity, while high school students from Benjamin Cardozo, Francis Lewis, Bayside, Queens High School of Teaching and Martin Van Buren write essays, describing inspirational, fictional characters.

“Some of the essays that come in are really moving,” said Mary Vaccaro, the district’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT) representative. “And in the elementary grades, we’ve seen some truly gifted people. We’ve seen some really amazing things.”

This is the eighth year of the contest, headed by the UFT and the (CSA). It is judged by a panel of 30 district parents, teachers and principals.

In the last two years, 1,450 students applied and $15,500 in scholarships were given away, Vaccaro said.

“When this started, we felt we really wanted to be involved in the community,” she said. “We thought it would be a good idea to honor those students who are really trying hard.”

Applications and rules can be found at http://www.uft.org/news/district-26-scholarship-application-available.

Those interested can also call 718-275-4400 for more information.

Checks will be distributed May 22 to winners, during the district’s annual scholarship dinner dance.



Townsend Harris HS girls basketball team celebrates winning with a win

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Within the last three seasons, the Townsend Harris High School girls basketball team has developed a culture of winning.

The Hawks have won 38 consecutive regular season PSAL league games in the Queens A West division. Standing in front of a cheering home crowd Monday with broad smiles on their faces, the team unveiled a banner which will hang in the school’s gym to celebrate its back to back undefeated 2012 and 2013 regular seasons.

But the banner ceremony may have been slightly premature, since the Hawks (PSAL 7-0) are on route to an unprecedented third undefeated regular season. And before revealing the banner, they routed division rivals Benjamin Cardozo Lady Judges with a 49-33 win, for victory number 39.

“We are just trying to maintain that,” junior guard Debra Chan said. “Yeah it feels good [to be undefeated.]”

Chan scored 13 points and added four steals against the Lady Judges, and teammate senior Sierra Berkel had a game-high 18 points and 12 rebounds to win the game.

It hasn’t been all winning with the Hawks. They did lose in the quarter finals of the PSAL Division A city playoffs last year, but their regular season record is an accomplishment.

Head coach Lauren Caiaccia attributes the team’s success to their hard work and training off the court.

“We train a lot. We run a lot in practice,” Caiaccia said. “We are ready to go the entire 32 minutes. We kept the intensity up and we also have the experience of winning.”

That intensity proved to be the difference maker in the game against the Lady Judges.

Townsend Harris led by a substantial amount for most of the game. They controlled possession, dominated on defense and almost doubled Cardozo’s score by halftime, 24-13.

But with about five minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, the Lady Judges knocked down two consecutive three-pointers and a layup for an 8-0 run, closing the gap to 37-30.

Then the Hawks returned to their earlier dominating form and finished the game strong with a 12-3 run, led by Berkel.

The senior scored six consecutive points by herself. She started with a layup at the 3:44 mark. Then stole the ball on the ensuing play and scored another layup. Then, on the next possession, Sierra was fouled and nailed both free throws, to advance the lead to 45-30.

“Towards the end of the game we knew what we had to do to get it done,” Berkel said. “We sort of made mistakes in the beginning, but we really wanted to win so we rallied.”


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