Tag Archives: Benjamin N. Cardozo High School

Cardozo HS senior to take part in Times Square ball drop


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sonam Lama /  Countdown Entertainment

One Queens teen will be the belle of the ball this New Year’s Eve.

Sonam Lama, a 16-year-old senior at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, will be one of five representatives from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to push the button, signaling the lowering of the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball, and help lead the 60-second countdown to 2015.

“It is such a great honor and there are so many thoughts and emotions going through my mind and my heart right now,” Lama said. “I feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate in New Year’s Eve in Times Square and am really looking forward to pressing the button along with other awesome and inspiring people.”

The IRC, an organization that helps refugees from around the world, resettled Lama from her native Nepal when she came to the United States in 2012.

Lama’s family was forced from their village after her father, an active member of the Nepali Congress party, faced pressure to join the Maoists.

Even after they moved to the city of Kathmandu, they were followed, and with no help from the police, they had to keep moving from location to location, according to Lama. In 2005, her father applied for political asylum in the U.S. and left Nepal.

Lama said she didn’t know a lot about America, but imagined her father would be wearing a suit, carrying briefcases and living in tall skyscrapers “like the movies.”

IRC President and CEO David Miliband, Nykhor Paul, an Sonam Lama practice pressing the button. (Photo courtesy of Countdown Entertainment)

IRC President and CEO David Miliband, Nykhor Paul and Sonam Lama practice pressing the button. (Photo courtesy of Countdown Entertainment)

When Lama and her family finally joined her father in May 2012, life in America was not what she imagined, including the small, older building that would be her home. But she did find improvements, such as medical help for her sister who needed a hearing aid.

Though the Elmhurst resident found no language barriers after learning English in school since kindergarten and from watching television, high school was a challenge.

Lama admits at first she had difficulty adapting to her large school, but after joining clubs and activities, such as the Red Cross, UNICEF, badminton and volleyball during her junior year, she was able to make friends.

Joining Lama during the famed ball drop will be models Alek Wek and Nykhor Paul, both former refugees from South Sudan, Jencarlos Canela, an award-winning musician and actor who has volunteered with IRC, and IRC President and CEO David Miliband.

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Judges dominate on the court


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

The Benjamin N. Cardozo Judges, the top team in the borough (PSAL 10-0), were reminded to “play Cardozo basketball” before trouncing Martin Van Buren (PSAL 4-7) and keeping their undefeated record.

Both teams were without their starting point guards, Van Buren’s Darron Williams and Cardozo’s Rashond Salnave, at Tuesday night’s game but play stayed strong on both ends of the court.

“Other players had to step up,” said Van Buren head coach Everton Edwards. “We do what we do. Basketball games are won in between the lines. You have to go out and believe you can win.”

Although the Van Buren VeeBees played like they believed they could win, Cardozo set the stage with a successful layup just 10 seconds into the game.

Both teams were slow on shots throughout the first quarter, but remained physical on play. Judges forward Armando Dunn and power forward Carl Edoua Balthazar continued to snatch the ball right from the VeeBees’ hands whenever they had the opportunity.

With three minutes left, VeeBees guard Vladimir Midy faked right, sank a jump shot and got the foul for a four-point play. Forward Kristian Mondesir from Cardozo rebounded the ball and responded with a three-point shot, ending the quarter at 12-6 Cardozo.

The second quarter opened with four successful quick shots, back-to-back from both teams. Dunn blocked a VeeBees’ shot attempt and Judges’ guard Marzuq Jimoh grabbed the ball and ran with it, scoring on the other end of the court.

“If you need 30 seconds, tell me,” Ron Naclerio, Cardozo head coach, yelled to the out-of-breath Jimoh after he made his shot.

Van Buren started making long passes around the perimeter, sending Cardozo players chasing after the ball. In the final minutes of the half, the VeeBees outscored the Judges 6-2.

After halftime, the Judges slumped back onto the court, looking defeated.

Naclerio shouted: “Play Cardozo basketball!” before his team started play.

Center Francisco Williams acknowledged his coach, took the ball and easily sank a layup to start off the half, bringing the score to 24-17 Cardozo, and the team was suddenly revived.

Van Buren missed their following shot and the rebound was snagged by Cardozo point guard Elijah McNeely, who dribbled down the court and sent a sharp pass to Williams in the paint.

The VeeBees continued to play hard but fell short in executing their shots. With 49 seconds left in the game, Edwards used a full time-out despite a 17-point deficit.

After Cardozo got their energy back, they were able to win 53-35, but not without scaring the crowd just a little.

“That was a good game, it made us sweat,” said a group of Cardozo parents.

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Bayside teen to vie for Miss New York Teen USA 2014


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Rachel Xing

It would be a dream come true, literally, if Rachel Xing wins Miss New York Teen USA next year.

The 16-year-old from Bayside is entering her first pageant in January to fulfill a possible prophecy her mother had while five months pregnant with her.

“When I was really little, my mom told me she had a dream she would have a girl who would attend a pageant and win,” Xing said. “At the time, she didn’t even know if she was having a boy or girl.”

Her mother, Bo Qian, said she woke up and “knew it would be a girl.” One month later, a doctor confirmed it.
Qian said telling the story multiple times sparked her daughter’s interest in pageants.

“I told her she had to get a good SAT score first,” Qian said. “She studied hard. She wants to do it, and I support her.”

The borough beauty will compete for the preliminary title from January 17 to 19 at Purchase College’s Performing Arts Center. The winner of the contest will represent the state at the national 2014 Miss Teen USA pageant next summer.

“I’m really excited. I can’t wait to see what will happen and what I will learn from the experience,” said Xing “But I’m slightly nervous because I don’t have any experience whatsoever. This is completely new to me.”

The teen said she plans to “look up a million videos on pageants” online, attend etiquette classes, possibly hire a pageant coach and find sponsors to help fund the $1,500 entrance fee.

Xing said the coveted trophy would mean she would be a role model for other girls.

The junior whiz kid has a 4.3 GPA at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School and is an aspiring doctor.

“If she wins, I think it’ll recognize that she can learn many things, not just academically,” Qian said.

The winner of the national competition will spend a year as a teen ambassador.

“I would feel like it would be an honor to represent Bayside and my state,” Xing said.

 

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Queens students bridge the generation gap using makeovers


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of GlamourGals and by William Mebane

Using makeup and nail polish, hundreds of Queens teens are bridging the gap between two generations.

Nearly 185 high school students in the borough have joined in a nonprofit’s cause to provide friendship and free makeovers to women living in senior homes.

The after-school leadership program, GlamourGals Foundation, Inc., has spread to 83 chapters in the country, including seven high schools in Queens.

“We’re bringing together two fragile populations,” said Kavita Mehra, vice president of GlamourGals. “Our volunteers come back to us and constantly share what they’ve learned from the seniors and their experiences.

We’re building compassionate, young leaders who are making a positive difference in their community.”

The teens visit local nursing homes and senior centers at least once a month for community service credit, Mehra said. They give hand massages, file down and paint nails, and apply foundation, blush and lipstick using clean, hypoallergenic materials supplied by the organization.

“What young woman doesn’t love nail polish and what older woman doesn’t love to be pampered? It’s a great way to start a conversation,” Mehra said. “It’s something about the human touch that can break immediate barriers.”

Eghosa Asemota, 19, a former Queens chapter president, said the program transformed her life after a traumatic car accident left a scar on her face.

“Before I joined GlamourGals, I was a quiet girl. I walked with my head down,” said the Ozone Park resident. “The more I visited nursing homes, the bolder I got. I was able to build that confidence again.”

Asemota, now a sophomore at Adelphi University, led the chapter at Thomas A. Edison High School, which boasts nearly 100 volunteers, in her senior year. The seniors, she said, became her own family.

“My grandparents live in Nigeria. I don’t necessarily get to speak with them a lot. Having these elderly women filled the void of a special grandmother,” she said. “I was able to give them a purpose, and they gave me a purpose.”

GlamourGals was established 13 years ago. Since then, its programs have spread to the Academy of American Studies, Thomas A. Edison, Townsend Harris, Robert F. Kennedy, Forest Hills, Flushing, and Cardozo high schools in Queens.

The organization also awards a select group of volunteers yearly with $1,000 scholarships and paid fellowships.

“We help them develop their fullest potential, and for the elderly, we demonstrate that they are not forgotten,” Mehra said.

 

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