Tag Archives: John Adams

John Adams Spartans’ ace in the hole


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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If the John Adams High School Spartans baseball team is to go far in the playoffs this year, it may rest on the arm of pitcher Anderson Deleon. Deleon, who is being pursued by three colleges, has a fiery fastball and a tricky breaking ball.

His record this season is 5-1, and he leads the PSAL (as of May 7) with 79 strikeouts in 12 games, while sporting a 0.06 ERA.

In a recent match against Queens A West conference leader Newtown High School (11-1 PSAL), Deleon pitched a complete game shutout with 15 strikeouts. Besides his pitching, Deleon is also a capable batter. He has a .366 batting average in 41 at bats, and he has a .409 on-base percentage.

Although the John Adams Spartans (11-2 PSAL) are still competing with Newtown for the conference crown, Deleon believes that his team will ultimately succeed. 

“As far as I’m concerned, we got the best team to go all the way,” Deleon said. “And I have 100 percent confidence in myself and my team to win everything.”

 

UPDATE: On May 7, after this article was published in The Queens Courier, John Adams High School once again defeated Newtown, sweeping the season series and tying for first place in the conference. 

 

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Many divided over Plan B availability in schools


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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Though Plan B, also known as the “morning-after” pill, has been dispensed at select New York City high schools since January 2011, its availability was not widely reported until recently.

The pilot program, which also provides birth control to students, started with five schools then expanded to nine more at the start of the 2011-2012 school year, said New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) spokesperson Veronica Lewin.

Last school year, 567 students received Plan B at the pilot schools, she said.

One school dropped out of the program, but the emergency contraception is still available to any student at 13 high schools as part of the Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Health (CATCH) program, which aims to prevent teen pregnancy.

There are no plans yet to expand it, said Lewin.

Four schools in Queens are in the pilot: John Adams High School in Ozone Park, VOYAGES Preparatory High School in Elmhurst, Newcomers High School and Queens Vocational and Technical High School in Long Island City. “Schools were selected based on their community pregnancy rates and availability of other services in the neighborhood. The principals were also supportive of the program,” said Lewin.

According to the Health Department, in New York City more than 7,000 young women become pregnant by age 17, 90 percent of which are unplanned.

Plan B must be taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. It is available without a prescription for women 17 and older. Those that are younger need a prescription for it, but it is offered free or at a low cost to all teens at some area health clinics. According to Planned Parenthood, Plan B can cost from $10 to $70.

Before the pilot, the morning-after pill had been available to students at privately-run school based health centers, said Lewin.

All of the city’s public high schools already have a mandated Condom Availability Program, where each school must have a Health Resource Room with free condoms. Parents can opt their children out of that program by signing a form.

An opt-out form was also sent home to parents for the Plan B pilot, said Lewin, and about one to two percent of parents have signed it.

Some students at the Queens high schools offering Plan B were well aware that it was available and had received the opt-out form, but others were hearing about it for the first time on Monday, September 24.

“[I learned about Plan B] right now. The class talked about it during government,” said Alondra Payan, a 16-year-old senior at Queens Vocational and Technical High School. “I think it would be better if there was an age restriction. There are kids that are 13, 14 here and they are going to be sexually active because now they think that because of the Plan B it’ll be safe.”

“I found out when it was posted in the newspaper last year,” said Mary Paguay, also a student at Queens Vocational. “If the parents don’t return the opt-out form any child is able to get it. I feel it’s sort of bad because you don’t have the parent’s permission but if the child is in need of it then they probably would want it.”

Some critics are afraid that if it is handed out to teens for free or without parental permission, it will be used as a regular birth control method; others are concerned that it will lead to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

The Health Department’s website stresses that a condom should be used to protect against STDs, and that using ongoing birth control, such as the pill, is the best way to prevent pregnancy.

 With additional reporting by Sweetina Kakar

Turnaround schools get new names


| brennison@queenscourier.com


When the seven Queens Turnaround high schools reopen their doors, it will be under a new name.

The names were chosen through a process of engagement with students, staff, community members, alumni and elected officials.

“I want to congratulate all 24 schools on a thorough process to propose school names that honor their histories, their neighborhoods and their new visions for success,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The schools new names are as follows:

August Martin- School of Opportunities at the August Martin Campus

Bryant- Academy of Humanities and Applied Science at the William Cullen Bryant Campus

Flushing- Rupert B. Thomas Academy at the Flushing Campus

John Adams- Future Leaders High School at the John Adams Campus

Long Island City- Global Scholars Academies of Long Island City

Newtown- College and Career Academies High School at Newtown Campus

Richmond Hill- 21st Century School of Richmond Hill

Seven Queens high schools close their doors for good


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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The final bell rang for the seven Queens Turnaround high schools as the last students passed through the doors of what the city graded as failing institutions.

Wednesday, June 27, marked the final day of class for August Martin, Flushing, John Adams, Long Island City, Newtown, Richmond Hill and William C. Bryant after the Panel for Educational Policy voted to close the schools in April. Seventeen other high schools around the city have also closed.

Under the Turnaround model, the schools will reopen in the fall under a new name with half the staff possibly replaced.

“I guess I’m happy that I’m the last graduating class of this high school but at the same time it’s disappointing because we’re not coming back and half of these teachers are not coming back at all,” said Newtown senior Adianes Dalle, fighting back tears. “I tried my best to keep it open… There’s no point in coming to visit because [the teachers] are not going to be here.”

The state’s Education Department approved the closings on Friday, June 22, saying they met New York’s requirements.

“I’m disappointed that I’m not going to finish my career here,” said Bryant teacher Mike Sherwood, who has been at the school for 20 years.

The Queens schools shutting their doors were all on the state’s list of Persistently Lowest Achieving (PLA) schools, and were receiving federal Race to the Top funding before negotiations broke down between the city and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) on an evaluation system.

Flushing teacher Robert Pomeranz called the Turnaround “a trick by renaming and renumbering.”

“Next year, the new school won’t have statistics that will count for another three years. It is a trick by the mayor and his flunkies.”

By instituting the Turnaround model — a program which does not require teacher evaluations — the city was eligible to apply for up to $60 million in School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding from the state.

That funding has been provisionally approved by the state pending the outcome of arbitration.

“My conditional approval of these plans is contingent on the NYC DOE’s ability to meet the relevant staff replacement requirements, ongoing consultation and collaboration with stakeholders,” state Education Commissioner John King wrote in a letter to Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The UFT filed a lawsuit in May saying the method of replacing teachers at the turnaround schools violated their contracts.

An arbitrator will determine if the DOE has properly staffed the turnaround schools.

If the arbitrator decides against the DOE — which says it is properly following the guidelines in the teachers’ contract — the department may revisit and consider additional staff from the closed school in order to receive SIG funds. The DOE said that the fact that the state education commissioner approved the closures will be brought the arbiter’s attention.

Though the federal funding is important to supporting the new institutions, the spokesperson said, the main mission of the turnaround plan was developing a strategy to improve student achievement.

Committees composed of representatives from the UFT and DOE will make the decision on whether former teachers meet the qualifications at the new school.

The final decisions on hirings cannot be made until after the arbitrator’s decision, the UFT said, which the union expects soon.

“No final personnel decisions involving these schools can be made until the arbitrator rules on the UFT’s contention that these are not really new schools,” a UFT spokesperson said.

— Additional reporting by Chris Brito

Long Island City bests John Adams for city cricket championship


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Liam La Guerre

Captain Troy Mars of John Adams High School was undoubtedly the most dominant cricket batsman in the PSAL this season.

Players, coaches and announcers said that if Mars, who led the PSAL in runs (739) and had three century performances (117, 177 and 194 runs), heated up in the PSAL Cricket Championship on June 16, the Spartans would seize the title.

However, the Long Island City (LIC) Bulldogs had a Trojan horse and Troy fell.

Fast-bowler Redwanur Khan shattered the middle leg of Mars’ wicket in the seventh over with a seemingly hittable ball, which the standout Spartan whiffed, giving the undefeated Bulldogs (17-0) the momentum to overpower the Spartans, 158-119, and take their first crown at Baisley Park in Jamaica.

“I just bowled my regular ball. I put it on the line and I got his wicket,” said Khan, who won Best Bowler of the final for his two wickets, 13 run outing.

After taking Mars’ wicket, Khan celebrated by chest bumping a teammate on the pitch, because he thought it was a given that they would win.

“Our main target was Troy Mars, because he’s really good,” he said. “So we got him, and we thought we are going to win the game.”

And Khan’s predication held true. Following Mars, who was limited far below his 67-run average to just 18 runs, the Spartans (14-2) began falling quickly.

Vice captain Randall Wilson lost his wicket in the eight over, and Khan dropped his second wicket in the ninth over against Harmanveer Singh.

“It was very disappointing, because my whole team was depending on me and I disappointed them,” Mars said. “I just want to say sorry to my team.”

John Adams made it to the final game for the third time in five years, but once again the title eluded the Spartans.

The Bulldogs continued to attack relentlessly, tying up the Spartans’ batsmen until in the 20th over with the final delivery and mathematically assured victory, Bulldogs Captain Mustafa Mahnaz bowled out the 10th and final out.

“Everybody said to me, we need this wicket,” Mahnaz said. “We don’t want to win by the over; we want to win by the wicket. And I just looked at the stump and I bowled the ball.”

Last year the Bulldogs failed to capture the crown when they lost in the final against Brooklyn’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a super over, but this year LIC brought enough firepower for the job.

Mars won the coin toss, but allowed LIC to bat first. The Bulldogs powered a solid 158 runs, while only losing five batsmen.

Attaur Khan led the bulldogs with 33 runs, slamming 3 sixes and 1 four, and won the Best Batsman award. Redwanur Khan and Sajib Salam also added 25 runs apiece in the win.

“I was very confident about every single player,” said Bulldogs coach Dharmvir Gehlaut. “They were hungry for this championship; for them it’s meat. When you’re a hungry lion or tiger you don’t see what else is in the field you just go and grab your share.”

UFT sues to prevent school closings


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators (CSA) are hoping to “turnaround” the city’s decision to close 24 schools in court.

The organizations filed suit today in State Supreme Court, seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction until issues surrounding the Department of Education’s (DOE) Turnaround plan can be resolved through arbitration, UFT officials said.

Under Turnaround, 24 city schools — including seven in Queens — will close at the end of the semester and reopen under a new name in the fall. While non-graduating students at each school will be guaranteed a seat, teachers will have to reapply for their jobs, according to the DOE. If 50 percent of the former teachers reapply, at least that amount will have to be rehired.

“These ‘sham closings’ are an attempt by the DOE to evade its duty to help these struggling schools succeed,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew and CSA President Ernest Logan in a joint statement.

The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) — made up of five representatives chosen by the borough presidents and seven others who are selected by Mayor Michael Bloomberg — voted 8-4 to close the schools on April 26.

The mayor’s appointees and the representative from Staten Island — which had no schools on the list — voted for the Turnaround plan, while the other four voted against the measure, according to published reports.

“We are asking the court to ensure that no final decisions are made on the staffing of these schools, pending an independent review by an arbitrator on the issue of whether the DOE is trying to get around its labor agreements,” the statement said.

According to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, preparations have already been made to open the new schools in September, including training leadership teams and holding meetings with the UFT to begin the process of staffing the new schools. He said the lawsuit “could have damaging consequences for that process, jeopardizing the creation of exciting new schools with new programs, teachers and leadership structures.”

“The UFT and CSA have shown that they would rather leave our students’ futures to the courts than do the difficult work of turning around failing schools and giving students the education they deserve,” Walcott said in a statement. “Our strategy of replacing failing schools has led to major gains in achievement and graduation rates, and we pledge to extend that progress no matter what special interest groups try to obstruct it.”

The seven closing Queens schools are August Martin, Bryant, Flushing, John Adams, Long Island City, Newtown and Richmond Hill High School. They were all on the state’s list of Persistently Lowest Achieving (PLA) schools, and were receiving federal Race to the Top funding before negotiations broke down between the city and the UFT on an evaluation system.

By instituting the Turnaround model — a program which does not require teacher evaluations — the city will be eligible to apply for up to $60 million in School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding from the state.

According to UFT and CSA officials, unless the DOE agrees that it has improperly identified the 24 schools, the issue will go before an independent arbitrator.

 

Seven Queens high schools to close


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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Seven Queens high schools had their fates sealed and doors closed by a Panel of Educational Policy (PEP) vote last night in Brooklyn.

The schools — August Martin, Bryant, Flushing, John Adams, Long Island City, Newtown and Richmond Hill — will close at the end of this semester and reopen in the fall under a new name with up to 50 percent new teachers.  A total of 24 schools throughout the city will be closed.

Yesterday, Grover Cleveland was one of two schools removed from the list of schools slated to close prior to the vote.

“Over the past several weeks, during public hearings and visits from my senior leadership, we looked closely at schools whose performance and quality of instruction have shown positive signs in the last two years. We have come to believe that two of those schools – Grover Cleveland High School and Bushwick Community High School – have demonstrated an ability to continue their improvements without the more comprehensive actions that are clearly needed at 24 other schools,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement.

The PEP is made up of five representatives chosen by the borough presidents and seven selected by the mayor.

The mayors appointees and the representative from Staten Island — which had no schools on the list — voted for the turnaround plan, the other four voted against the measure, according to published reports.