Tag Archives: jamaica

Flushing business owners fight to maintain parking in SBS plan


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce met with representatives of the MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT) on May 22 to express their skepticism over the benefits of a proposed Select Bus Service (SBS) line set to run from Flushing to Jamaica.

Small business owners felt the most threatened over the possible impact to parking availability in the area. One of the proposed changes will see the area getting a dedicated bus lane for SBS service, and in some cases possibly displacing lanes currently used for curbside parking.

“I am afraid that losing more business due to parking unavailability will result in my business reducing our staff or worse,” said Andrew Hai, owner of Flushing NAPA Automotive Inc. “We are a small business and need all the customers we can get.”

Although local civic groups were in favor of the SBS plans, they also emphasized the need to maintain parking resources.

“The Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association supports the implementation of SBS,” said the group’s president Don Capalbi, although he did urge the DOT to ensure that parking lanes will be preserved. “Elimination of Main Street parking will decimate our local small business hub and the community they serve.”

Nicole Garcia, the DOT’s Queens commissioner, said officials will continue to work with the chamber to ensure that the needs of businesses will be prioritized in transit system changes.

Select Bus Service is an improved bus service that aims to offer fast, frequent and reliable service on high-ridership bus routes. SBS lines decrease travel time by utilizing off-board fare collection by kiosk, dedicated bus lanes and transit signal priority.

A two-phase study completed in 2006 and 2009 identified Main Street and Kissena/Parsons boulevards between Flushing and Jamaica as corridors that could support and greatly benefit from Select Bus Service. The four bus lines along the two thoroughfares move at overall speeds of under 10 mph, and some are delayed for nearly 50 percent of travel time.

The meeting between transit officials and the chamber is part of the ongoing third round of public outreach for SBS implementation. Open houses will be held this week in both Flushing and Jamaica to solicit additional input from the general public and to discuss street design and bus stop locations.

The Flushing open house will be held in Flushing Town Hall at 137-35 Northern Blvd. on Wednesday, May 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. In Jamaica an open house will be held at the Jamaica LIRR Station Atrium Lobby on Sutphin Boulevard the following night, May 28, from 6 to 8 p.m.

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August Martin HS in Jamaica hosts hip-hop culinary competition


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Trivella Osbourne/ Gallery by Anthony Giudice and Trivella Osbourne

August Martin High School teamed up with nonprofit The Future Project (TFP) last week to host Stay Hungry, the first-ever hip-hop culinary competition.

Students from August Martin High School’s Culinary Academy in Jamaica, along with several other city high schools, competed in the experimental exhibition of hip-hop and its relationship to food on May 21. The event aimed to bridge the worlds of culinary arts, visual arts and lyrical art.

Syreeta Gates, the dream director for TFP at the high school, created the innovative event with the idea of having an unconventional opportunity for students to demonstrate their shared love for the hip-hop culture by preparing dishes illustrated in hip-hop lyrics.

“This type of event has never been done before,” Gates said. “There has never been a culinary competition around food led by young people.”

Gates pointed out that this competition not only bridges the worlds of food and hip-hop, but creates an important bridge between the students and some of the artists and their lyrics that they used to create their dishes.

“Some of [the students] were born after Biggie Smalls died, so it now creates an intergenerational bridge between the students and these artists,” Gates said.

In its inaugural year, Stay Hungry attracted over 60 guests who watched and cheered on the 33 students who competed for the best hip-hop inspired dish.

The competition was judged by several professional guest judges who tasted over eight dishes, which they judged based on cooking time, description of the dish, presentation and creativity of the use of lyrics.

The first-place winner of the competition was the Secondary School of Law whose lyric was “A pen and a paper, a stereo, a tape of / Me and Eric B., and a nice big plate of fish / Which is my favorite dish / But without no money, it’s still a wish,” by rapper Rakim.

The host school, August Martin High School, came in second place. Their dish’s corresponding lyric was “Got the lamb rack, pan-roasted, laced it with fennel / Little yogurt that been drizzled over—might be a winner,” by Action Bronson.

“I am so proud of the kids. It has been a dream of mine to make this event happen for a very long time, and I am so glad it was a success,” Gates said. “Parents, students and teachers are all asking about next year. Now we have to start planning.”

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Cops searching for Jamaica robbery suspects


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo and video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for three young men responsible for an assault and robbery that took place in Jamaica earlier this month.

The three males reportedly approached a 27-year-old male at the corner of Southgate Street and 140th Avenue at 3:20 a.m. on May 19. Police said the suspects punched and kicked the man before stealing his cellphone and fleeing the location. The victim was treated at a local hospital.

The NYPD described the perpetrators as black males between 17 and 25 years of age. One suspect had dark curly hair and was wearing a T-shirt and jeans, while another was wearing a stocking cap, grey sweatshirt, camouflaged pants and carrying a backpack. The third suspect had facial hair on his chin and was wearing a white and grey shirt, grey pants and a baseball hat.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Suspect arrested for 2013 Jamaica homicide


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps/Inset courtesy Richmond County, Va. Sheriff's Office

Following a two-year investigation, a Virginia man is facing justice for the March 2013 murder of a 21-year-old Jamaica man at a neighborhood intersection.

Police said Melquan Collier, 23, of Warsaw, Virginia, allegedly shot Roshane Morrison, 21, of Dillon Street in Jamaica on the morning of March 31, 2013. He was extradited back to Queens on May 21 and booked on charges of second-degree murder, bail jumping and criminal possession of a weapon.

Officers from the 113th Precinct, in responding to a 911 call, found Morrison shot in the torso at the corner of 110th Avenue and 179th Place. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Jamaica Hospital.

According to authorities, the U.S. Marshals alerted the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office last week that Collier was possibly in their area.

Based on further investigation, the sheriff’s office reportedly tracked Collier to a home in Haynesville, Virginia, where he was located during a May 18 raid. Law enforcement sources said Collier – who tried to conceal his true identity by providing police with a fake name – was apprehended at the scene. Officers also seized two firearms from the home.

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Jamaica funeral set for rapper slain in Briarwood drive-by shooting


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/@chinxmusic

A Jamaica church will host the wake and funeral Tuesday for the rapper Chinx, real name Lionel Pickens, who was murdered in a Briarwood drive-by shooting on May 17.

Family members, friends, relatives and colleagues will gather at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral, located at 110-31 Merrick Blvd., on May 26 at 11 a.m. for a brief wake, followed by funeral services set to begin at noon.

Pickens, a Rockaway native who resided in Ozone Park, was gunned down while sitting with a friend inside his Porsche at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 84th Avenue at 4:04 a.m. on May 17. According to police, an unidentified gunman pulled up in another vehicle and opened fire, then sped away from the scene.

Shot multiple times about his body, Pickens died later that morning at Jamaica Hospital. His friend, a 27-year-old man, remains hospitalized in critical condition after sustaining a gunshot wound to his back.

As Chinx, Pickens was considered to be an up-and-coming star in the hip-hop world. His career began with a partnership with the late rapper Stack Bundles, but was sidetracked after being sentenced to prison for a robbery conviction in 2005.

While Pickens was incarcerated, Bundles was himself shot to death. According to the NY Daily News, police are reportedly investigating whether the two murders are connected.

After being released from prison in 2008, Pickens relaunched his rap career with French Montana. Chinx gained a following among hip-hop fans following the 2012 release of his single, “I’m a Coke Boy.” He was slated to release an album later this year titled “Welcome to JFK.”

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”:  Jamaica, Hillside Avenue and 190th Street looking towards downtown.

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Jamaica to welcome artists with free residencies


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning

BY ANGELA MATUA

In keeping with their mission to become a one-stop shop for artists, the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL) is partnering with Exploring the Metropolis (EtM) to provide free workspace residencies for choreographer-composer duos.

EtM, the only New York City-based nonprofit focused exclusively on workspace issues for the performing arts, has created a new program in partnership with JCAL to address these problems.

“We are extremely excited to partner with EtM in this pilot program for Queens artists,” said Cathy Hung, JCAL’s executive director. “It aligns with JCAL’s founding vision to serve artists, especially emerging Queens artists. This program also expands our residencies program from visual art, dance, to music.”

The EtM Choreographer + Composer Residencies will provide 120 hours of free rehearsal space to four choreographer and composer teams at JCAL, and the winners will also receive a stipend. The teams will have access to three months of free rehearsal space beginning in September 2015.

Though the residencies are for teams collaborating on new work, the application process is also open to choreographers working alone. At the end of the residency, artists will perform a free public program at JCAL or the Jamaica Center for the Performing Arts.

This opportunity is a result of the Queens Workspace Initiative, a project conducted to help ensure that the performing arts offerings in Queens are thriving, according to EtM Executive Director David Johnston.

The nonprofit surveyed performing artists and cultural facilities and held focus groups to gauge the needs of performing artists in Queens and to learn if local facilities were meeting those needs.

“We discovered from the study that Jamaica had a lot of resources that weren’t really being maximized as far as space for artists,” Johnston said.

According to the report, Queens has approximately 96 nonprofit performing arts spaces compared to 274 in Brooklyn and 2,721 in Manhattan. Queens’ city-owned cultural institutions receive the lowest amount of per capita arts funding.

The report found that Jamaica is the best neighborhood in Queens to engage artists because the increased funding in public transportation improvements and underutilized residential spaces provide easy access to performing arts organizations and artists.

Applications are due July 1 and Johnston said that a panel of judges will begin to look over the applications in August. EtM has decided to give preference to Queens artists and is seeking people with a wide range of genres in dance, people with expertise in music and overall artistic merit.

According to Johnston, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation has pledged to provide multiyear funding for this program so that it can continue to exist for at least two rounds.

Applications can be found here.

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Michael Bolton, Billy Ocean to perform in Jamaica this June


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Kadellar/Wikimedia Commons

Jamaica residents won’t have to imagine living without Michael Bolton this summer.

The Grammy Award-winning singer is taking the stage on June 28, along with Billy Ocean and a long lineup of other musicians, for the Groovin’ In The Park Concert being held at Roy Wilkins Park, located at the intersection of Merrick and Baisley boulevards.

The family-friendly event, presented by The Door Restaurant in Jamaica, is a daylong celebration of reggae rhythm and blues.

Bolton and Ocean, who won a Grammy in 1985, will join other bands and artists including Cocoa Tea, Luciano, Capleton, Morgan Heritage and Lieutenant Stitchie.

Gates for the annual summer concert, which was started in 2011, open at 11 a.m., three hours prior to the performance.

Previous performers to take the stage at Groovin’ In The Park include Gladys Knight, Jimmy Cliff, Boyz II Men, Patti LaBelle and more.

Tickets are available here and are $49.99 for early general admission and $149.99 for VIP tickets. Children 12  and under receive free admission.

Tickets can also be purchased at The Door Restaurant at 163-07 Baisley Blvd.; The Smokehouse Restaurant at 200-05 Linden Blvd.; VP Records at 170-21 Jamaica Ave.; and Silver Krust at 1695 President St.

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Brooklyn man shot to death in Jamaica


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

CrimeSceneTapeHC1010_L_300_C_R-624x416

A Brooklyn man was found dead from a gunshot wound to the torso in Jamaica over the weekend, police said.

Officers from the 113th Precinct discovered the 54-year-old victim, identified as James Burnett, at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday near 110th Road and Sutphin Boulevard, authorities said.

EMS rushed Burnett to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.

There are currently no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.

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5Pointz artists transform August Martin HS in Jamaica


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Over a hundred 5Pointz artists volunteered their time this weekend to make the hallways of a high school in Jamaica shine once again.

August Martin High School was filled with laughter and music on Saturday as 5Pointz curators Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen and Marie Cecile Flageul invited aerosol artists from near and far to cover the interior of the school in one-of-a-kind artwork.

The 5Pointz crew worked together with a team of students of the nonprofit The Future Project Dream Team at the school, who came up with the idea for the project called “Operation Skittles.”

The project — in which artists paint the school’s hallways, staircases and elevator doors — came after the team surveyed 500 students and found out that their fellow classmates unanimously felt the white walls of the school needed to be changed to enhance the atmosphere.

“I still believe that the classrooms should be kind of free of art so you can focus but why not have the hallways awesome. Why not have a school that you can brag about?” Cohen said. “Its cool because [5Pointz is] kind of inside out, it’s almost inverted. The students have a little treasure that not everyone will have.”

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On both Saturday and Sunday, over 100 artists are volunteering their time and paint to transform the school, located at 156-01 Baisley Blvd. They have been given the freedom to choose the art that will go on the walls, and each will have an inspirational word.

“Being able to use the power of art to inspire the youth is amazing and I know these kids that go here are looked at as disappointment because of their graduation rate but as time changes so does our methods of getting these kids into school,” Cohen said. “You just have to give them a little bit of inspiration.”

Along with being seen as the “rebirth” of 5Pointz, which saw its Long Island City home be whitewashed in 2013, organizers and school staff also hope this project will give the school which some call “the worst in New York City” a second chance.

“This alone might get [students] to school and create a sense of pride for their school that a lot of them didn’t have before,” said Syreeta Gates, The Future Project Dream Director at August Martin.

According to the school’s principal, Gillian Smith, August Martin is still considered an “out of time school” meaning it hasn’t made any academic progress in recent years and has a 39 percent graduation rate.

However, Smith, who welcomed the idea of the project with open arms, hopes a project such as coming together with 5Pointz artists will help build a sense of pride and push students to do better.

Some artists have offered to participate in future workshops for the students, and the 5Pointz curators also hope to continue being a “part of the family” with the school.

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“We want students to be so inspired that they want to stay in school because now they can see that dreams can happen and dreams can come true,” Smith said. “It’s a difficult journey; it’s a lot of work. But I think all of these little steps matter. To see this happen in a weekend all of a sudden makes you feel like, ‘I got it, the world is mine. I can do this.’”

Students involved in the project said they are excited to see their classmates’ reactions on Monday when seeing the hallways.

They also added that they think this project will help change the way people view the high school.

“It’s a sense of hope and pride because people talk so much crap about August Martin, it’s going to change how they look at the school, and students here are going to have so much pride coming here and saying ‘5Pointz did my school.’ Who else can say that?,” said 11th-grader Trivella Osborne.

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When asked what they would say to the artists volunteering their time to transform their school the students on the Dream Team burst out in thank yous and cheers.

“They’re making history right now,” said ninth-grader Latoya Mann. “It’s a resurrection of August Martin and 5Pointz.”

The completed project will be revealed to the public on June 11 from 4 to 8 p.m. during an art show at the school. Some artists will also be selling their work on canvas in order to raise money for the high school.

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Suspected shooter injures acquaintance behind Jamaica hookah lounge: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for the alleged shooter who fired a bullet into a 23-year-old man outside a Jamaica hookah bar late last month.

According to authorities, the shooting took place at about 1:30 a.m. on April 26 in the rear of the H20 Lounge on Hillside Avenue near Parsons Boulevard.

The suspect, who is known to the victim, pushed the man to the ground before shooting him in the left leg and fleeing, police said.

The victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition.

Authorities have identified the suspected shooter as Jamel Ethridge, 37, described as black, 6 feet 4 inches tall, 260 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes, and carrying a black revolver.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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5Pointz artists to transform hallways of August Martin HS in Jamaica


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/@queensdreamers

The spirit of 5Pointz will be reborn this weekend, as over 150 artists from near and far are expected to come together to bring life to the hallways of one Jamaica high school.

On Saturday and Sunday, a team of students of the nonprofit The Future Project Dream Team at August Martin High School called “Operation Skittles” will team up with 5Pointz curators Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen and Marie Cecile Flageul to cover the hallways, elevator doors and staircases with one-of-a-kind artwork exploding with color.

“To us it’s kind of like making the pass to knowledge attractive and exciting,” Cecile Flageul said.

For the two days, more than 150 aerosol artists, all invited by Cohen, will volunteer their time and paint to transform the interior of the school, located at 156-10 Baisley Blvd.

According to the curators, this project symbolizes a “rebirth” of 5Pointz with a large number of people gathering together to create art pieces that will tell stories.

The Long Island City home of the graffiti mecca was ordered to be whitewashed by the property’s owner in 2013, just days after artists and supporters held rallies looking to save the site and requested the site be landmarked. Since then, the entire building has been demolished.

“It’s really awesome and symbolically it’s in Queens, it’s our initial borough. It’s kind of like a tribute to the spirit of 5Pointz and I don’t think we could have picked a better place than this school,” Cecile Flageul said.

5Pointz curators Marie Cecile Flageul and Jonathan Cohen with August Martin High School Principal Gillian Smith (center). (Photo courtesy of Marie Cecile Flageul)

5Pointz curators Marie Cecile Flageul and Jonathan Cohen with August Martin High School Principal Gillian Smith (center). (Photo courtesy of Marie Cecile Flageul)

She added that the response from participating artists has been intense and positive, with many wanting to continue having a relationship with the school and students even after the project is complete.

“To me it is incredible to be part of this project,” she said. “To be able to connect with those kids, help this school and start this relationship.”

The artists all want to inspire the students, help them achieve their dreams, and bring beauty to a school that some have called “the worst in Queens,” according to Cecile Flageul. Some artists have offered to participate in workshops for the students, and the 5Pointz curators also hope to continue being a “part of the family” with the school.

“Isn’t it ironic that what they call the worst high school in Queens and the so-called vandals of Queens are collaborating for something to better the future of the youth,” Cecile Flageul said.

In addition to the 20 kids from “Operation Skittles,” other students and teachers will also be volunteering their time during the weekend.

Although the painting on both Saturday and Sunday is closed to the public, the completed project will be revealed in June with a large art show.

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Elderly Howard Beach resident dies following crash


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

An 88-year-old Howard Beach woman has died from injuries she sustained in a car crash last month, police said Saturday.

Carmela Rutolo of 88th Street was driving north on Cross Bay Boulevard at 7:40 p.m. on April 20, when her vehicle struck a pillar at Liberty Avenue.

Officers from the 106th Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene. Rutolo died of her injuries on April 24 at Jamaica Hospital.

An investigation by the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad is ongoing.

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Participatory budgeting winners announced for District 27


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning

BY ANGELA MATUA

Councilman I. Daneek Miller announced on Wednesday the winners of participatory budgeting in his district covering parts of Jamaica, St. Albans, Cambria Heights, Hollis, Queens Village and Addisleigh Park.

The ballot included 23 projects, which were proposed, selected and designed by community members in public meetings starting in July of last year.

The top five proposals will receive $1 million in funding between them.

At 1,029 votes, the top vote-getter was a plan to enhance the Roy Wilkins Park outdoor performance space for programming such as readings or small concerts. It is expected to cost $450,000.

The Jamaica Performing Arts Center (JPAC), the performing arts leg of the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL) will receive $120,000 for equipment purchases and repairs to upgrade the sound and lighting systems in the 400-seat theater.

Cathy Hung, executive director of JCAL, said she was ecstatic when she heard the news.

“Thank you to a team of artists and students who advocated on JCAL’s behalf and the community members who voted for us,” Hung said. “With this grant, we will be able to bring JPAC to the highest artistic quality that is possible and to present the highest quality programs, whether it’s theater, dance, music or multi-media that we have been planning for the community.”

Residents in the district also voted to provide $400,000 for road resurfacing projects to take place along major thoroughfares in the confines of Community Boards 12 and 13 to protect vehicles and pedestrians.

I.S. 59 in Jamaica received 607 votes and $60,000 to purchase 10 smart boards and an overhead projector.

The last proposal to be funded, with 555 votes, was a technology upgrade to York Early College Academy in Jamaica. The school will receive $94,000 to purchase 13 smart boards with an overhead projector and laptop cart.

Miller said the relationships forged from this 10-month process are greatly valued in the district.

“This has been a tool to engage, empower, and organize our residents,” Miller said. “Regardless of who the final awardees are it is clear that our community has won. We’ve seen people come together — youths and senior and people from all different walks of life — to improve our neighborhoods and collaborate on meaningful projects.”

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Thomas Edison High School seeks help to attend national health conference


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Margaret Savitzky

BY ANGELA MATUA

Students at Thomas Edison Career and Technical Education (C.T.E.) High School in Jamaica are hoping to compete at this June’s HOSA National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, California, and they are asking for help in raising the funds to get there.

Dr. Margaret Savitzky, who has taught at the school since 2002, was looking for ways to expose her students to real-world opportunities within the field and stumbled upon the HOSA (Health Occupational Students of America) National Leadership Conference.

The conference, which will be held from June 24 to June 27, combines workshops to expose students to professionals in the health care field and a national competition where students compete in events such as medical spelling, medical terminology, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and more.

Last year, Savitzky was able to take 25 students to the state conference, where they won 10 medals. The winners were invited to the national conference in Florida but did not place. This year, 20 students attended the state conference in Syracuse and 16 students won either first, second or third place.

State budget cuts have depleted the school’s budget for trips like this one, so Savitzky is asking the community for help.

The registration fee, which is $90, needs to be paid by May 9. Savitzky is looking to take four students and two chaperones to the conference and she will have to raise money for flights, a hotel and food for the trip.

The registration fee is non-refundable, so Savitzky is determined to raise money for the additional costs. She estimates that $5,500 will be the total cost of the trip and has set up a GoFundMe page to raise the money.

Interested parties can also send a check to Thomas Edison C.T.E. High School (memo: HOSA) 165-65 84th Ave., Jamaica, NY 11432.

Savitzky said this conference helps her students participate in activities that are tangible and prepare them to pursue a career in the health care field.

“As teachers, we stress the importance of education. We acknowledge the importance of the students participating in ‘real-world’ activities,” Dr. Savitzky said. “The terms ‘career and college ready’ are important goals in education today. My students worked hard to excel at the NYS HOSA conference, applying academic and career-related skills. They now have a chance to prove themselves and demonstrate these goals against peers at the national level.”

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