Tag Archives: Grover Cleveland High School

Queens teacher accused of sexual encounter with second student


| editorial@queenscourier.com

File Photo

A Queens teacher busted for having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student was arrested again for sexually abusing another teen boy at the Ridgewood high school where she worked, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Joy Morsi, 39, a physical education teacher at Grover Cleveland High School, was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual act and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

The Massapequa, Long Island resident is accused of engaging in sexual acts with the second victim, also a 16-year-old student, inside the school on Saturday morning, the district attorney said.

She allegedly had sex with the first student in the basement and other areas of the school during their relationship, according to Brown.

Morsi was charged Tuesday with 20 counts of third-degree rape, 20 counts of third-degree criminal sexual act and one count of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with that case, officials said.

The victim is a wrestler at the school, according to the Daily News, and the relationship started in June of last year.  The relationship continued until recently when the victim told authorities about the affair two weeks ago after Morsi became jealous that he was taking a girl to prom, the Daily News reported.

Prosecutors said Morsi, who pleaded not guilty to the new charges, enticed another student  not long after the first relationship ended, according to the Daily News.

Morsi was again held on $25,000 bail on Wednesday, and is set to return to court on June 23.

 

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Queens teacher arrested for allegedly having sex with student


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Updated 5 p.m.

A teacher at Grover Cleveland High School is accused of raping a 16-year-old student numerous times in a yearlong relationship, according to officials.

Joy Morsi, 39, of Massapequa, Long Island, was arrested on Monday and charged the next day with 20 counts of third-degree rape, 20 counts of third-degree criminal sexual act and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, officials said. If convicted, Morsi could be sent to prison for four years. She did not give a statement at her Tuesday arraignment.

“We find these claims disturbing and reprehensible and she will remain reassigned — far from any student and the school — pending a criminal investigation,” said Department of Education spokesman David Pena. “We will work closely with the school to ensure they are given any needed support.”

The victim is a wrestler at the Ridgewood school, according to the Daily News, and the relationship started on June 10, 2013, when Morsi lured the student into a secluded closet and exposed herself to the teen. She also allegedly sent the student emails asking if he was a virgin.

Things continued until recently when the victim told authorities about the affair two weeks ago after Morsi became jealous that he was taking a girl to prom, the Daily News reported.

Morsi had sex with the student in the basement and other areas of the school during their relationship, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

“This case is particularly disturbing because the defendant is a teacher and schools should be safe havens for children,” Brown said. “Instead, this defendant is accused of sexually preying upon one of her students during rendezvous all over the school.”

Morsi’s next court date is June 23 and her bail is set at $25,000.

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Dmytro Fedkowskyj mulling a run against Assemblymember Marge Markey


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Dominick Totino Photography

There may be a showdown in the Democratic primary race for Assembly District 30 later this year.

Middle Village resident Dmytro Fedkowskyj, a former member of the city’s Panel for Education Policy (PEP), which serves to improve the welfare of schools and students in the city, is giving a lot of thought about running against incumbent Marge Markey.

“I had many people come up to me and ask me, ‘what are you going to do now? You’ve tackled and handled that job so well, why don’t you run for office,’” Fedkowskyj said, referring to his time on the PEP.

District 30 is comprised of Maspeth, Woodside and parts of Long Island City, Middle Village, Astoria and Sunnyside.

Fedkowskyj, an accountant and father of three, was a member of the PEP for five years, since former Borough President Helen Marshall appointed him in 2008.

He advocated for Queens students and parents in the position, until he resigned on December 31, as Marshall left office.

Former colleagues say what makes Fedkowskyj special is his ability to draw people together.

A graduate of Grover Cleveland High School, Fedkowskyj is an alum of SUNY Empire State College. He started his community outreach with Community Education Council District 24 in 2004. He served as chair of the School Construction and Zoning Committee before he was appointed to the PEP. Fedkowskyj also served as a trustee for the city’s Board of Education Retirement System from 2008 to 2013.

Despite his experience, challenging Markey, who has held office since 1998, may be difficult. Markey has won at least 60 percent of votes in her last three elections against Republican opponents. But given that the area is mostly Democratic, Fedkowskyj criticized her wins.

“In an Assembly district that holds almost 2-1 Democrat over Republican voters, one has to question why she hasn’t won a general election by a larger margin,” Fedkowskyj said. “Maybe voters are just looking for change.”

Michael Armstrong, a spokesperson for Markey, said that she will run for re-election, but didn’t comment on Fedkowskyj.

Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Marge Markey

 

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Benjamin Cardozo wrestler takes first place in citywide tournament


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYC & Company/ Julienne Schaer

When Benjamin Cardozo High School wrestler Adam Gomez gets on the mat, it’s all business.

Gomez enters his own zone, where he focuses only on defeating his opponent for the entirety of the match.

“As we wrestle I don’t pay attention at all to anybody else besides who I’m wrestling and that’s about it,” Gomez, a junior, said.

At the annual NYC Wrestling Mayor’s Cup tournament on Sunday, Gomez was fully locked on to his opponents, as he topped his competition to win the crown in the 106-pound division.

Gomez, who entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed, defeated the No. 1 seed John Luke DeStefano of Poly Prep High School in the finals. After wrestling all three rounds with DeStefano, Gomez won the decision with a 4-1 point advantage.

“I’m impressed. He had a really tough opponent in the finals,” said Cardozo wrestling head coach Chris Milani. “It was a great match.”

About 10 schools from Queens were represented at the annual NYC Mayor’s Cup championship at Columbia University. Besides Cardozo, Long Island City, Flushing, Grover Cleveland, Information Tech, William C. Bryant, Springfield Gardens, Hillcrest, Martin Luther School and Lexington School for the Deaf all sent representatives to the mats.

The tournament featured the city’s top 16 wrestlers from the public, Catholic and private schools, in 15 different weight classes.

While Gomez was the only wrestler from Queens to have a first-place finish in their weight category, many of the other athletes enjoyed the experience of competing with top wrestlers from other leagues.

“It’s a big tournament. It’s good to [oppose] people that you don’t usually,” said wrestler Thomas McLoughlin of the Martin Luther School. “You wrestle them all the same. You go out there and you wrestle your game. You don’t wrestle to theirs.”

 

Queens wrestlers results 

  • 99 pound category, Randy Cazales of Flushing High School finished in third place.
  • 106 pound category, Oscar Estudillo of Long Island City High School finished in fifth place.
  • 113 pound category, Abdul Rabbani of Grover Cleveland High School finished in seventh place.
  • 138 pound category, Thomas McLoughlin of Martin Luther School finished in third place.
  • 152 pound category, Shaquille Jones of Hillcrest High School came in fourth place.
  • 160 pound category, Troy Walters of Flushing High School finished fifth place.
  • 170 pound category, Alex Ortiz of Martin Luther School finished in sixth place.
  • 182 pound category, Gabriel Ortega of Grover Cleveland High School finished in fourth place.
  • 195 pound category, Nnamdi Uchendu of Springfield Gardens High School finished in third place.
  • 220 pound category, John Pierre-Louis of Springfield Gardens Hill School finished in third place.
  • 285 pound category, Daniel Pottinger of Benjamin Cardozo High School finished in sixth place.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then overcast. High of 59. Winds from the North at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the East in the afternoon. Chance of rain 20%. Monday night: Overcast with rain. Low of 54. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the NNE after midnight. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.2 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY:  Queens Restaurant Week 

The ninth annual Queens Restaurant Week starts today with many eateries offering prix-fixe menus at $25 for a three-course meal or other specials. More than 100 restaurants are participating in the event, which takes place October 8-11 and October 15-18. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Poll finds tight Queens state Senate race

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. and City Councilman Eric Ulrich are locked in a tight race for Addabbo’s Queens seat in a key battle for control of the Senate, a new poll finds. Read more: New York Post

New York City Housing Authority finally placing cameras at the Pomonok Houses in Queens, but mostly in areas where there is no crime

It seems like a no-brainer — put the cameras where the crime is. But that’s not what happened at the Pomonok Houses in Queens, a Daily News examination found. Read more: New York Daily News

Friends to have fundraiser for Army Guardsman in police shooting

The friends of the Army National Guardsman who was shot and killed by a detective during a traffic stop in Queens, will raise money to help his family pay for his funeral Sunday. Read more: Fox New York

Students turned away from SATs because of ID confusion

Taking the SAT is a rite of passage for many high schoolers but some Queens students were mistakenly turned away because of confusion over their IDs. Read more: NY1

MetroCards go on sale with ads on both sides

It sputtered out of the subway vending machine, an oddity that deserved careful examination. Some riders asked a station agent how to swipe it. One woman was confused about whether it was even a MetroCard at all. Read more: New York Times

Yankees win ALDS playoff opener over Orioles 7-2

CC Sabathia, Russell Martin and the New York Yankees crashed a party that was 15 years in the making. Read more: Wall Street Journal

Obama ribs his own debating; Romney eyes speech

On a last dash for cash in the celebrity scene of California, President Barack Obama on Sunday took a good-natured shot as his own underwhelming debate performance, marveling at how his friends in the entertainment business could turn in flawless showings every time. Read more: AP

 

 

16 Queens schools face shutdown by state


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

After seven Queens high schools won a nearly yearlong battle with the city to remain open, the institutions — along with 10 other borough schools — find themselves on a state list of schools that need to shape up or shut down.

New York state education officials unveiled a list of 123 schools in the city that face closure by the 2014 school year if improvements are not made. The list is made of schools in the bottom 5 percent on test scores and graduation rates.

Twenty-two borough schools also made the state’s list of the best in New York.

Six Queens high school were marked for turnaround by the city — which would have closed and reopened the institutions under new names — before a judge overruled the decision. Now, the schools again find themselves on a list that might mean their closure.

“The state’s new system more closely resembles the city’s school Progress Reports by recognizing growth and measuring students’ college and career readiness. This year, 55 schools were recognized for their strong performance and fewer schools were identified as struggling,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott said.  “There is still more work to do, and we will continue to support our struggling schools while holding them accountable to the high standards our students deserve.”

The Queens schools include 12 high schools, three middle schools and an elementary school.

The schools are: Newtown High School, Grover Cleveland High School, Flushing High School, Martin Van Buren High School, Beach Channel High School, August Martin High School, Richmond Hill High School, John Adams High School, Excelsior Prep High School, Jamaica High School, Long Island City High School, William Cullen Bryant High School, M.S. 53, J.H.S. 8, I.S. 192 and P.S. 111.

 

 

Queen’s Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com


Circus worker killed in freak Qns. bicycle accident

A circus worker died in freak bicycle accident yesterday when he slammed into an open car door on a Queens street and was impaled on his bike’s handlebars, sources said. The man, in his early 30s, peddled into the driver’s-side door of a parked Toyota Camry on Union Turnpike Fresh Meadows at around 8:10 p.m., police said. Read more: [New York Post]  

Queens high school teacher barred from classroom after explicit sexual education lessons

A Queens high school teacher has been barred from the classroom for giving explicit sex-ed lessons where he pretended to be a woman getting a gynecological exam, the Daily News has learned. Education officials canned Grover Cleveland High School science instructor Dyrel Bartee, 53, after students complained about his raunchy demonstrations. Read more: [New York Daily News]  

Dragon Boat Racers Test Their Skills In Queens

The 22nd annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival preparations are under way in Queens. Teams on Sunday were learning steering and paddling techniques in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Read more: [NY1]

Jackson Heights set to get new park space and a new pedestrian plaza

Creating new open space in the borough’s more congested communities is no easy feat. But in Jackson Heights, local leaders successfully lobbied the city to purchase a school yard for park land. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Night of bullets: 3 dead, 7 injured in different shooting incidents throughout city

Ten people were shot — three fatally — as violence erupted around the city overnight. Between 10 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday, nine men and one woman were shot in seven incidents in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, cops said. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Police: Man Fatally Shot Outside Queens Nightclub

Police are investigating the shooting death of a man early Sunday morning outside a Queens night club. Police say the 36-year-old was shot in the torso on Liberty Avenue and Remington Street in Jamaica around 4:45 a.m. Read more: [NY1]

Assemblymember Cathy Nolan pleads for Grover Cleveland


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

“It can’t happen, it just can’t happen,” said Assemblymember Cathy Nolan as she shook her head at the thought of her alma mater, Grover Cleveland High School, closing its doors.

A similar scenario 35 years ago helped launch Nolan’s political aspirations.

In the mid-70s, during the city’s fiscal crisis, there was a push to shut down Grover Cleveland. This was the catalyst for Nolan to leap into student government and politics.

“The school helped make me the person I am.”

Before sitting through the three-and-a-half-hour public hearing, Nolan joined protesting students on the steps of the 81-year-old school, many of whom the assemblymember said she expects to join her one day in Albany.

“This terrible threat to our community high school has been met with I think the strongest outpouring of support in my many years of community service,” Nolan said, adding she was moved by the students’ speeches.

“I want the record to reflect that we love our high school,” said Nolan at the hearing. “The restart model is supposed to be a long-term plan with the school receiving funds and taking part in the model over three years. To decide that after five months to abruptly pursue a different and more drastic route is bad public policy.”

Nolan’s turn at the microphone brought the crowd of more than 1,000 supporters to their feet several times and produced some of the loudest cheers of the night.

“I don’t even really remember what I said. I just spoke from the heart.”

Nolan’s standing as an alumna is affecting her as much, if not more,than her place as a politician, she said.

“You have to listen to us,” pleaded Nolan to the panel at the hearing that will help decide the school’s fate on April 26.

“I’m not even going to consider that the school’s going to close. I don’t even want to think about it right now. If we have to, we’ll bring even more people April 26,” she said. “I mean it just can’t happen.”

 

Turnaround proposals submitted for eight Queens high schools


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


Elected officials are refusing to “turn” the other cheek on the city’s plan to overhaul a number of high schools throughout the borough.

The Department of Education (DOE) has submitted proposals to Turnaround eight high schools – Flushing, William Cullen Bryant, Long Island City, Newtown, Grover Cleveland, August Martin, Richmond Hill and John Adams – resulting in the closure of the school at the end of the academic year and its reopening under a different name in the fall of 2012, along with the replacement of 50 percent of the faculty.

In total, 33 schools across the city have been designated for the Turnaround model, but each current student will be guaranteed a seat in their reopened school.

Local leaders, parents and teachers have all expressed outrage over the DOE’s plans, emphasizing the destructive influence this will have on students.

“This is a slap in the face to all of the teachers and students who have been working hard to keep [these schools] on the road towards greatness,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, a graduate of Bryant High School. “I think pulling the plug is the wrong way to go. The students feel pride in their school, and if you close it, you are saying it is a failure. I think that’s the wrong message.”

Van Bramer, who called the city’s tactics “draconian,” also noted that a new principal was installed in Bryant in September, giving the leader less than a year at the school.

Other legislators have argued that politics should be left out of the classroom.

“The DOE should realize this proposal does not factor how such an extreme overhaul of Bryant and L.I.C high schools would affect attending students and how they learn,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “Children’s education should supersede political posturing.”

DOE officials said the city lost significant federal funding when an agreement on teacher evaluations could not be reached with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

By deciding to Turnaround the schools – a program which does not require teacher evaluations – the city can apply for up to $60 million in School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding from the state.

“When we did not get an agreement with the UFT by January, we lost out on money from the state,” said DOE spokesperson Frank Thomas. “That’s one of the reasons behind this – we want to try to salvage as much of those funds as possible. We also see this as an opportunity for these schools to get better, improve their culture, improve their school program, improve their staff and become much better schools.”

The DOE’s proposal will be voted on by the Panel for Education Policy (PEP), a committee composed of 13 members assigned by the five borough presidents and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on April 26.

According to Thomas, if the Turnaround proposal is approved by PEP, the department plans to move forward regardless of funding.

“This is being done because of the mayor’s ego, and not because of any inability of the UFT to negotiate,” said Ken Achiron, the UFT chapter leader of L.I.C. “The mayor walked away from the table and refused to negotiate. I think this is a disaster for the children and school system. This mayor is doing more damage than the fiscal crisis of 1975.”

Maria Karaiskos, an English teacher at L.I.C. for 16 years, believes the plan has hurt students and educators alike.

“I think this will severely disrupt the students’ education,” she said. “If the goal is to improve education, this is the worst thing they can do. Teacher morale is low, and it should be clear that Bloomberg is trying to remove teachers.”

Grover Cleveland High School Protests Turnaround


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Students and faculty gathered outside Grover Cleveland High School to tell the mayor not to “turn” his back on their school.

The Ridgewood high school currently sits on the list of high schools to be “turned around,” which involves the closure and immediate reopening of the school under a different name, along with the replacement of the principal and 50 percent of the teachers.

Over 200 members of the school’s community took to the streets surrounding the school, marching and brandishing signs calling for people to dial 3-1-1 to protest the school’s potential closing.

“Bloomberg doesn’t know anything about the school,” said science teacher Russ Nitchman, calling the threat of a turnaround a “political hissyfit” from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

As the protest made its way to Metropolitan Avenue, passing cars honked their support for the protest.

Senior class president Diana Rodriguez is worried about the effect the turnaround would have on the students that will remain at the school next year.

“We have such a bond with these teachers, to just ruin that, get rid of 50 percent of the staff, it’s going to have a negative effect,” she said.

“There is a sense of home, here for the kids,” said English teacher Elizabeth Clark, who graduated from the school. “The kids need that safe haven.”

A vote will be held later this year to determine the fate of the 33 schools designated for turnaround.

“This entire community is here supporting Grover Cleveland and unfortunately the mayor’s plan never takes any of that into account,” said Queens UFT representative James Vazquez. “Moving people around and playing with numbers is the only solution [the city] ever has.”

 

Eight high schools to ‘Turnaround’


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

The city’s failure to successfully negotiate with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) may spell doom for more than half a dozen high schools across Queens — including the subtraction of half their educators.

Due to the inability of the two parties to come to an agreement regarding teacher evaluations, the Department of Education (DOE) has moved eight high schools — Flushing, William Cullen Bryant, Long Island City (L.I.C.), Newtown, Grover Cleveland, August Martin, Richmond Hill and John Adams — into the School Improvement Grant Program known as Turnaround.

Turnaround involves the closure and immediate reopening of the school under a different name, along with the replacement of the principal and 50 percent of the teachers. The schools, which are state-designated Persistently Low Achieving (PLA), were initially slated for Transformation or Restart, which do not involve closure and are less severe programs with regards to expulsion of faculty.

“A school’s performance is judged on multiple measures, and when there has been important progress but there is also significant room for improvement, we believe students will benefit from intervention,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “This is an opportunity to assess and keep what is working and also bring in a new wave of talent that will be able to build on the progress already made.”

As part of the Turnaround program, school-based committees will be formed to assess and replace half the teaching staff based on merit — replacing the least effective teachers and keeping the best. Each school will be reopened by the fall of 2012, and every current student will have a seat in their respective school.

In total, 62 schools from across the five boroughs have been assigned to one of the DOE’s intervention programs.

Of these, 18 schools will be phased out over several years by not accepting any new students and officially closing after current classes graduate.

Five will close at the end of the current school year in June, forcing current students to transfer. Six will lose their middle school grades but stay open as either high schools or elementary schools only, and the remaining 33 schools will close in June and reopen immediately with a different name.

P.S. 215 in Woodmere has been slated for phase-out, and the Peninsula Preparatory Academy, a charter elementary school in Rockaway Park, is also lined up for closure.

Since negotiations between the DOE and UFT failed, the city’s School Improvement Grants (SIG), which are used by 27 of the 33 schools designated for Turnaround, has been suspended by the state. The city, however, is hopeful its actions will once again make it eligible to receive the funds.

“The unfortunate thing is that we see this as the mayor playing politics with our schools, and they are holding these PLA schools and their communities hostage,” said James Vasquez, Queens district representative for the UFT. “The turnaround model has no educational value other than the mayor’s unwillingness to come to an agreement in negotiations. We have been and continue to be open to negotiations.We are not the ones who walked away from the table, they were. In the end, these school communities are the ones who will suffer.”

Vasquez says the city abandoned negotiations roughly 36 hours before the state’s January 1 deadline. He claims the mayor opposes the state’s new holistic evaluation approach — which the UFT supports — and is searching for a scapegoat for the precarious situation in city schools.

Despite the distraction, some teachers are concentrating on their students, attempting to prevent the ambiguous situation from causing a digression in their education.

“A lot of things are in motion and we’re sorting out what it means,” said Debra Lavache, a teacher at Flushing High School. “We’re just focusing on the students. We still have students to teach.”

The majority of students, parents and faculty have expressed tremendous outrage regarding the city’s plans, furious that the students’ education is being placed in the middle of a bureaucratic war.

“We have worked around the clock to try and improve the school,” said Mirit Jakab, an English and Theatre teacher at Grover Cleveland High School. “Many parents and kids are very disappointed. This is tearing our community apart. It is a shame that what seems to be politics is hurting our kids.”

Other teachers believe the Turnaround will do more harm than good.

“I think the city has not given us enough support to implement structural changes that would help the students achieve. It is designed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to fail,” said Maria Karaiskos, an English teacher at L.I.C. High School. “The worst thing you can do is implement this Turnaround model, because what will turn around is the students, and they will go back home. They will turn their backs on education.”

Students at L.I.C. echoed their teacher, emphasizing the lack of excitement and energy most will exhibit while attending the “turned around” school.

“I think this is a terrible idea,” said Amara, a 17-year-old senior. “This is only going to psychologically harm the kids and teachers. Rearranging the system is going to make students get used to a whole new set of teachers. It will drive us away from learning.”

Barbara Loupakis, who graduated from L.I.C. in 1987 and currently has a daughter in 10th grade at the school, believes the Turnaround is the latest example of the city not prioritizing education

“This year things have been going crazy,” Loupakis said. “First there were not enough teachers. A lot that they had were substitutes because they didn’t want to spend money to hire teachers. They have books that are over 20 years old. My daughter brought home a book that my husband had. We don’t have money to give new books and now we are firing teachers? My daughter is not going to want to come back. Because of these changes, these kids are not going to have the spirit and drive to get up in the morning. Bloomberg is sending a message to these kids that they are nothing.”

Grover Cleveland High School Gives Back


| letters@queenscourier.com


I would like to thank the staff and students of Grover Cleveland High School for hosting the Fall Festival on Friday, October 28 for the students and parents of P.S. 153.  Everyone who attended had a great time.

The students from Grover Cleveland really put in a lot of effort and time to make it a great night for all the children who attended.  People complain about the school, but the students I met on Friday are getting a very good education and they are learning to give back to the community by participating in these events.  I hope there will be more events like this at the school in the future so people can see what a great job the staff is doing there too.

The best part of the Fall Festival was the haunted house.  The students acted like characters from various horror movies and other spooky characters.  They really scared the kids and parents.

The students were also very patient with the children.  There were plenty of activities, and people were there to explain the activities to the children who attended.  All the students and staff that I encountered at the school were friendly and knowledgeable.

 

Charlene L. Stubbs

Maspeth