Tag Archives: Kids

Street Talk: What do you think of Mayor Michael Bloomberg requiring flu shots for students?


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY JOHANN HAMILTON

 

It makes sense, students who aren’t vaccinated pose a health risk to the other students.
Albert Sherman

 

I agree with the idea, it’s in everyone’s best interest to get flu shots.
Derrick Logan

 

I think the idea is good, but I’m not sure it’s his place to force vaccinations on students.
George Thomas

 

I don’t see why anyone would be against this policy; children are supposed to be getting their flu shots anyway.
Jaime Davis

 

I just feel sorry for people who might not be able to afford a flu shot for their children. What are they supposed to do?
Joann Banks

 

I think Bloomberg should just mind his own business. He’s on his way out of office soon anyway, there’s no point in starting this up now.
Kristina Ballard

 

I think it’s a good idea from a logical standpoint, because vaccinations are a good thing. But, it’s not right to force them on people who might not want to give their kids a flu shot for whatever reason.
Matt Clayton

 

On the one hand, I can see why it’s good for kids to be vaccinated, but on the other hand, it shouldn’t be forced on them, even though it’s for the best.
Stacy Palmer

What’s the key to your child getting a good night’s sleep?


| Brandpoint@queenscourier.com

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As a parent, do you dread the evening hours because bedtime is such a struggle? Do your children do everything they can to delay turning the lights out? Do they experience fear and anxiety when you leave the room? These all-too-common scenarios play out in countless households every evening, leaving mom and dad wondering what they can do to help their kids get the sleep they need without a flood of tears.

Toddlers need an average of 12 to 14 hours of sleep. But, two-thirds of all children younger than 10 experience one or more sleep problems at least three nights a week, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Difficulties range from stalling or resisting going to bed to snoring and sleepwalking. Desperate parents are left frustrated as they simply want their little ones to get the sleep they need.

“Kids really need to have that sleep in their bodies to have enough energy to make it through the day, think smart thoughts and grow properly,” says Jennifer Waldburger, a family sleep therapist from Sleepy Planet and consultant for The Jim Henson Company’s “Pajanimals” children’s series. “The idea is to get the child to visualize the process, to understand that it’s normal, healthy and OK to fall asleep.”

Establishing a regular bedtime routine is key, says Waldburger, and anyone putting the child to bed must be on that same schedule.

“Stay consistent. Make sure you stick to that routine and schedule,”stresses Waldburger.

Some simple steps that can be part of a good bedtime routine include:

* Quiet, calm play on the floor. Avoid stimulating toys that are noisy or have flashing lights.

* Rocking and reading story books. Try making up a story together that feels very calming and relaxing and happy for a child. Sing together or listen to calm music.

* Start a favorite ritual, such as saying good night to the stuffed animals or the moon.

* Turn on white noise such as a fan.

* Offer a transitional object and a brief cuddle before leaving the room.

A transitional object is something your child can use to feel safe and comfort himself – such as a small blanket or stuffed animal – and that reminds him of you. It can be especially useful during times of separation, such as at bedtime.-

To thwart your child’s worries about going to sleep alone, try using a transitional object, such as a small stuffed animal starting around the age of one. Recognizable objects can help provide a high level of comfort, although what the child ends up choosing is up to him or her.

Halloween safety tips


| bdoda@queenscourier.com

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While having fun is a prerequisite for any Halloween, safety should never take a backseat.

With the devastation the city suffered during Hurricane Sandy, many will be forced to forego trick-or-treating, but for those that do there are several safety tips that should be followed.

Con Ed offered some tips post-Sandy safety tips:

  • Avoid any downed electrical wires or equipment. Treat any wire that’s in the street or on lawns as if it’s carrying electricity, which can carry painful shocks. They also should avoid any puddles or standing water, which can conduct electricity. More than 5,000 wires fell during the storm
  • Be careful crossing streets, especially at corners with no red lights. Hold on to younger brothers, sisters and friends when crossing the street. Be sure to look both ways.
  • Carry a flashlight when walking even if the street is lighted, but definitely if Hurricane Sandy snuffed out street lights.
  • Children are urged to be careful near Con Edison work sites in their neighborhoods.

In the most recent data collected by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an average of 20 pedestrians were killed each Halloween from 2005-2009, a 61 percent increase from the number of pedestrian deaths on any given day.

With Halloween falling on a school day, many children will be out trick-or-treating for candy after sunset. Drivers should be aware of their surroundings and be patient with the droves of trick-or-treaters crossing city streets. Motorist vigilance is extra important because many children will not cross at crosswalks and “dart out” in front of cars.

New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital provided tips on maximizing Halloween fun while minimizing potential danger:

• Always go trick-or-treating with your children. Do not let your children enter a stranger’s home or apartment.

• Do not let your children eat any candy before they get home and you examine it.

• Make sure your children throw away any unwrapped foods or candies.

• If your children are old enough to trick-or-treat by themselves, have them go in groups.

• If your children are trick-or-treating at night, make sure their costumes are bright in color, or have them wear reflectors.

• If your children are walking on dark streets, have them take a flashlight. If they are walking in apartment buildings, accompany them inside.

For the tech savvy, AT&T has compiled a list of tips to keep trick-or-treaters safe this Halloween:

• Make sure cell phones are fully charged before leaving the house.

• Pre-program contact information of parents and emergency numbers into your child’s phone and teach them how to access the numbers.

• Establish boundaries. Childrens’ trick-or-treating routes should be in familiar areas in the community. Many services, including AT&T’s FamilyMap Viewer, allow parents to locate a child’s exact whereabouts from their phone or computer.

• Set up periodic alarms with Halloween-themed tones as a reminder for trick-or-treaters to text or call home to check in between candy collecting stops.

And the most important tip to remember…have fun.

Dealing with conflict in your child’s classroom


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

(BPT) – While adults live with the reality that some people just don’t get along, children can find such concepts more difficult to grasp. Teaching our children to deal with conflict and helping them navigate the complexities of interpersonal relationships can be difficult – especially when it comes to conflict with a teacher. Knowing how to approach the teacher and the situation can make all the difference in resolving problems that might arise in the classroom.

“When parents are active in their child’s education, the child is likely to perform better academically in school,” said Dr. Deborah Hammond-Watts, an adjunct professor in the College of Education at Argosy University, Chicago. “A good working relationship between school and home sends the message to a child that his/her parents and the school work together for his/her educational and emotional benefit.”

When a child approaches a parent with an issue or comment related to school and/or the teacher, parents should be willing to listen and to not jump to conclusions.

“Whether you believe what your child is telling you or not, it is important for your child to be and feel heard and to know that you are willing to listen,” said Dr. Dominick Ferello, professor in the College of Undergraduate Studies at Argosy University, Tampa.

The next step is for the parent to reach out to the teacher directly. Request a conference or time to discuss the matter with your child’s teacher directly (and without your child present) to gain some understanding as to what the teacher perceives the concern or issue to be.

“When requesting to talk with a teacher, keep in mind that the teacher’s job is to teach the children in the classroom during the school day. Schedule an appointment to make certain that the teacher has an amount of time to speak with you. Showing up at school and demanding to see a teacher may not always work in your favor,” said Hammond-Watts.

“The goal for the meeting is to gather information about what may be going on and make it clear that you want to partner with the teacher in helping your child to feel that the focus is on their education and helping them succeed in the classroom,” added Ferello.

The reality is that teachers aren’t perfect and neither are parents, says Ferello. As such, the outcome may not always be what either party had hoped for.

If you and the teacher just cannot get along after much effort and frustration, the principal or another administrator may need to get involved.

“The presence of a third party may assist both teacher and parent to try to communicate in a way that demonstrates less conflict,” said Hammond-Watts. “After the meeting the principal/administrator can meet separately with the parent and teacher to critique the meeting and try to offer solutions toward a better working relationship. While the principal can instruct the teacher to work with the parent in a professional manner, the teacher needs to be sincere in any efforts to do so.”

Tips for inspiring young readers


| ara@queenscourier.com

It’s never too early – or too late – to help your child discover the joy of reading. In fact, reading aloud to your child helps build important vocabulary and language skills that last a lifetime. Despite the considerable evidence of a relationship between reading regularly to a child and that child’s later reading development, six out of 10 babies and five out of 10 toddlers are not read to regularly by parents or family members.

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and the Buddig Be A Reader campaign offer scores of activities, tips and resources for raising readers of every age:

* Start reading to your children when they are very small and make this time together a special time without everyday distractions. Continue reading aloud to children even after they’re reading on their own.

* Choose books carefully and ask your kids what they like and don’t like. Your children’s input will help you guide them to good books.

* Consider books with big, bright colorful illustrations and pictures of familiar objects for infants or very young toddlers. Preschoolers like playful animals, both real and imaginary. Add “how-to” and craft books for young readers ages 6 to 11.

* Encourage your child to read aloud to younger brothers, sisters, family members or friends.

* Make a commitment to read aloud at least once a day. Even 15 minutes of daily reading can make a big difference in your child’s reading comprehension and literacy development.

* Set a good example by reading frequently and sharing your enthusiasm for reading. Talk about the books you read and your favorite authors.

* Set up a home library. A few books on a special shelf are a great start to building a book collection your child will treasure for years.

* Visit your local library, bookstores, yard sales and thrift stores to find good books new and old to read together. Not sure what book is right for your child’s age group or reading level? The American Library Association and the Library of Congress publish lists of recommended books to guide parents in making selections.

* Check out RIF’s monthly activities calendars for engaging reading and writing activities in English and Spanish and get reading.

* Visit the RIF Reading Planet for games and interactive activities your child will love to enjoy at home or on-the-go.

For additional tips to help your child discover the joy of reading, visit www.RIF.org.

 

Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day is aces


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Alexa Altman

The kids came to celebrate their “love” of the game.

Thousands of tennis fans flooded the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing for the 17th Annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day — the official kickoff event for the US Open Tennis Championships — on Saturday, August 25.

Kids and their families enjoyed tennis exhibitions and skills competitions, featuring professional players Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick. On hand to celebrate the start of the US Open were jugglers, unicyclists and magicians who performed for crowds in tennis-themed outfits.

Tots toted oversized, electric-yellow tennis balls, gathering signatures from on-site hall-of-famers. Young players who wanted to show their skills on the court faced off in tournaments throughout the day.

“[Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day] holds a long standing history of providing a day of fun-filled family activities as attendees celebrate the life of Arthur Ashe and his mission to empower children of all ages through tennis,” said USTA executive director and chief operating officer Gordon Smith.

The day-long celebration was headlined by a concert, hosted by “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks and TV host Quddus, the event featured musical performances from “Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen, breakout stars The Wanted, Owl City, Mindless Behavior and Rachel Crow.

Allison, 7, and her brother Andrew, 5, from New Jersey, were overjoyed for the musical performances, which were a surprise to the pair until after they arrived. The tiny tennis enthusiasts had attended summer tennis camp not long before the US Open and were excited to see some professional players demonstrate their skills. The siblings had also taken part in the event’s face painting activity. Andrew sported tiger stripes while Allison rocked a floral design.

Olympic gold medal swimmer Missy Franklin and Matthew Morrison from “Glee” also made cameo appearances.

Tips for inspiring young readers


| ara@queenscourier.com

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(ARA) – It’s never too early – or too late – to help your child discover the joy of reading. In fact, reading aloud to your child helps build important vocabulary and language skills that last a lifetime. Despite the considerable evidence of a relationship between reading regularly to a child and that child’s later reading development, six out of 10 babies and five out of 10 toddlers are not read to regularly by parents or family members.

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and the Buddig Be A Reader campaign offer scores of activities, tips and resources for raising readers of every age:

* Start reading to your children when they are very small and make this time together a special time without everyday distractions. Continue reading aloud to children even after they’re reading on their own.

* Choose books carefully and ask your kids what they like and don’t like. Your children’s input will help you guide them to good books.

* Consider books with big, bright colorful illustrations and pictures of familiar objects for infants or very young toddlers. Preschoolers like playful animals, both real and imaginary. Add “how-to” and craft books for young readers ages 6 to 11.

* Encourage your child to read aloud to younger brothers, sisters, family members or friends.

* Make a commitment to read aloud at least once a day. Even 15 minutes of daily reading can make a big difference in your child’s reading comprehension and literacy development.

* Set a good example by reading frequently and sharing your enthusiasm for reading. Talk about the books you read and your favorite authors.

* Set up a home library. A few books on a special shelf are a great start to building a book collection your child will treasure for years.

* Visit your local library, bookstores, yard sales and thrift stores to find good books new and old to read together. Not sure what book is right for your child’s age group or reading level? The American Library Association and the Library of Congress publish lists of recommended books to guide parents in making selections.

* Check out RIF’s monthly activities calendars for engaging reading and writing activities in English and Spanish and get reading.

* Visit the RIF Reading Planet for games and interactive activities your child will love to enjoy at home or on-the-go.

For additional tips to help your child discover the joy of reading, visit www.RIF.org.

Tech tips for college-bound students and their parents


| ara@queenscourier.com

(ARA) – Just 30 years ago, textbooks, paper and pencils were the main supplies college students needed. In today’s digital world, where more teachers are using technology to deliver a better learning experience, college-bound students need to equip themselves with the latest technology to make the most of their college experience and give themselves an academic edge. But how do students and parents know which technologies can get the job done, and how can they best use them to their advantage?

“From viewing lectures online and getting help from a digital tutor to using one of more than 20,000 education-specific apps now available, today’s college students have many options when it comes to technology,” said Brian Kibby, president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education. “Finding the right tools can enhance the learning experience and improve student performance in class – sometimes by a full letter grade or more. These tools have great potential to help students master course material and prepare them for success not only in the classroom, but after graduation.”

Here are some important tech tips for college-bound students and their parents:

1: Get advice and choose the best fit for you.

There is no single piece of technology that’s right for every college student. It’s important to think carefully about your individual needs and purchase only what works best for you. However, it can be helpful to ask current college students which devices they have found to be the most useful. Talk to recent grads about what it takes to be successful in college and what, if anything, they may wish they had done differently in regard to studying and technology. Their answers might be surprising and help steer you in the right direction.

2: Try before you buy.

Before you make a purchase, spend some time with the equipment or program and see how it works. Think of the three things you’ll use it for the most and make your purchase based on those criteria. Before you decide to buy an iPad, try using one to type an email, take notes and view videos to see how comfortable it feels. If not, try another option. In addition to how a device functions, you should assess its portability and battery life since you’ll be using it frequently and in different locations.

3. When it comes to tech, put yourself in your professor’s shoes.

Once you’re on campus, don’t be afraid to ask professors for insights about which technologies will help you the most. Many college professors today use a technology called lecture capture that enables professors to record lectures and make them available for replay after class. Most colleges and millions of college students use digital course hubs that house everything from the course syllabus and e-book to interactive, adaptive quizzes all in one location.

4. Stay connected to your college finances.

If you understand how your college finances work, you’re more likely to take college seriously and get the most out of your education. Speak to your parents about yearly tuition totals and the cost breakdown of each individual class. Graduating college with the best grades and as little debt as possible is key to positioning yourself for success after college.

5. Use social media for academic and professional growth – not just to post party pictures.

College-age students are among the most active users of social media, but many are not aware of the academic and professional benefits. Learn more about how social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn can help build your academic network and market yourself as a professional. Your college’s career center should have plenty of info on how you can get started putting your best foot forward with a positive social media footprint.

Sleep smarts: Sleep is an important part of back-to-school preparation


| ara@queenscourier.com

(ARA) – Does your list of school supplies include sleep? Studies say it should, especially for teens.

Only 8 percent of American teenagers are getting the required nine or more hours of sleep needed, according to the National Sleep Foundation. In fact, a recent study published in the “Journal of Adolescent Health” found that more than 60 percent of high school students get less than seven hours of sleep per night. The situation does not improve in college, either. A 2010 study conducted at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota revealed, not surprisingly, that 70 percent of college students get less than the 8 recommended hours of sleep.

While most people have, at times, battled sleep issues, poor sleep habits plague college campuses. Let’s face it – most college kids do not place a premium on a good night’s rest. In addition to sleep falling low on the priority list, most students are sleeping on cheap dorm mattresses and worn out pillows – which can affect sleep quality.

Perhaps reminding your student that there is a proven relationship between healthy sleep habits and academic success might help encourage healthier habits. In 2010, a University of Minnesota study found a significant positive correlation between the amount of sleep per night and GPA. Additionally, as the average number of days per week a student got less than five hours of sleep increased, GPA decreased.

Once a pattern of bad sleep has developed, is it possible for teens and college students to “reset” their internal clocks? Researchers at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine say it is. Suggest that your students try following these tips, a little bit at a time, over several weeks:

* Try your best to avoid caffeine, smoking, alcohol, heavy exercise and heavy snacking (pizza included) at least three hours before bedtime.

* Don’t pull all-nighters or cram for exams late at night. Specifically schedule studying for when you’re most alert so your performance won’t be affected.

* Be as consistent as possible with your sleep habits, ideally aiming to go to bed at the same time each evening and get at least eight hours of sleep per night.

* Wake up at the same time every morning and head outside. Sunlight helps reset circadian rhythms, the body’s internal biological process that rotates around a 24-hour schedule.

* Turn off your cell phone and laptop at night. Besides being a distraction, exposure to light can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that aids sleep.

* Make sure your bedroom is set up for sleep. If you are a light sleeper or your dorm is noisy, try wearing earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. Keep the room cool and dark. Make your bed as comfortable as possible. Consider investing in a foam mattress pad and a quality pillow. For example, for around $100, you can purchase a mattress topper and a waterbase pillow, both of which greatly improve head, neck and back support while you sleep.

Countless studies have shown that people who get the right amount of sleep are physically and emotionally healthier – which is of course is something we all want for our children. Getting better grades is just the icing on the cake.

 

Five ways to help kids boost their brain power


| ara@queenscourier.com

(ARA) – Everyone is born with about 100 billion brain cells. We form new connections between these cells throughout life, but the rate is particularly high when we’re young. Since those connections facilitate thinking and learning, parents who want to help give their children an intellectual edge should consider the brain-healthy choices they make each day.

“Making the effort to nurture your child’s brain with both proper nutrients and varied experiences, especially when they are young and developing at such a fast rate, is crucial,” says speech pathologist Lauren Zimet, founder of Early Insights, LLC, and an expert on childhood brain development. “The connections in brain circuitry can be enhanced through the environments and activities a child is exposed to, and participates in, as well as the nutrients a child consumes.”

Zimet offers five tips to help parents enhance healthy brain development in their children, positioning them for success in school today, and well into their future:

1. Select a rainbow

It’s no secret that the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables are numerous, but thanks to the results of ongoing research, you can confidently add brain health to that list. Encourage your children to eat a colorful array of produce (organic when possible) each day so they get the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals needed to nourish and protect their growing brains. If your child is resistant to eating produce, encourage them to come shopping with you and select something new to try. Kids are more likely to eat what they have selected themselves.

2. Relax the right way

While it’s true that exercise boosts brain power, it’s also important to teach children how to relax. Balancing activity with relaxation is important so that kids don’t get too stressed, which can impact the brain’s development and lead to learning and behavior problems. Teaching children early on the benefit of setting goals, working towards those goals, and giving their brain and body time to relax are important life skills. When it’s time to relax, skip the TV and teach your child that taking a walk in nature, reading a book or drawing are great ways to unwind. Deep breathing is also an excellent practice to teach children of all ages.

3. Eat omega-3 brain food

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are critical to a child’s brain development. They are called “essential” because we need them for optimal health. The problem is that our bodies cannot manufacture them and we can only get them from the food we eat or supplements we take. While fish, nuts and seaweed are good omega-3 sources, kids typically don’t gobble down these foods. That leaves many parents worried that their kids aren’t getting enough, and with omega-3 deficits linked to ADHD, dyslexia and other behavioral and psychological disorders, many are turning to supplements for their children. Experts agree that the safest, most reliable source of the most important essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) is a high quality fish oil supplement. Fortunately, there are purified, molecularly distilled fish oil supplements that are manufactured with kids in mind. Parents should be sure to choose one of these chewable, tasty options to ensure success in getting their children to take the supplements.

4. Happy brains are hydrated brains

Staying hydrated is important for growing brains and bodies. Water can improve energy, increase mental and physical performance, remove toxins and waste from the body, and keep skin healthy and glowing. Based on the trillions of cells in the body that need water to function, most nutritionists agree that children need more, not less H20. To estimate how many ounces of water your child should drink daily, divide his or her weight in half and aim for that number of ounces per day.

5. Be a positive support system early on

Learning is a complex process, but children will be more open to trying new things when they know their parents believe in them. Acknowledging effort, instead of the outcome, strengthens a child’s belief in himself or herself. Teaching goal setting, prioritizing activities and working off of check lists exercises the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in the brain. Experimentation through trial and error is the way the brain learns best.

“Giving your child’s brain what it needs to grow strong can help him or her at school and in all social situations,” adds Zimet. “Utilizing these tips is a great way to help position your child for success in the coming school year, and beyond.”

 

Civic group awaits decision in lawsuit against St. Mary’s


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo by Bob Doda

The Weeks Woodlands civic group is awaiting a decision from the appellate court as it proceeds in its lawsuit to halt the expansion of St. Mary’s Hospital for Children.
Construction on the Bayside facility began in October of 2010, despite opposition from Weeks Woodlands. Predominantly taking issue with surrounding zoning laws and the size of the project, Weeks Woodlands vice president Tim Vance argued there is a limited right to expand St. Mary’s and its construction team overstepped its bounds.

St. Mary’s treats children with serious illnesses or injuries, providing rehabilitation and specialized medical care to over 4,000 children every day. The original building, constructed in the late 1950s, caters to children suffering from diseases prevalent during that time period. According to St. Mary’s spokesperson Leslie Johnson, the space is in dire need of an update, coinciding with technological advances.

While the new pavilion will not add patient rooms to the 97-bed facility, Johnson feels the expansion will “right size” the space. Because patients’ stays average between three to five months, Johnson believes the upgraded 90,000-square-foot center will allow parents to rest by their children’s bedside and give patients a suitable amount of space to heal.

Construction crews are expected to complete the first phase of the project by October of this year. The second phase, commencing shortly thereafter, will refurbish and upgrade the hospital’s already existing structure.

Weeks Woodlands first went to court in early August of 2010 following a meeting with the vice president of Turner Construction — the company building the extension. According to Vance, the executive addressed him, saying, “We are going to make your lives miserable.” Vance alleged the VP alerted him Turner’s team would be working before hours, after hours and on the weekends. When Vance asked for quiet Sundays, the executive declined.

Vance said the construction team has lived up to the assertions, but calls to Turner went unanswered when The Courier attempted to verify Vances’ claims.
With the help of contributions from 120 families, Weeks Woodlands accrued funds to assist with its legal fees, which according to Vance have amassed to $100,000.
“We’re in it because it’s our neighborhood,” said Vance. “We want to prevent this problem in our neighborhood and other neighborhoods that are nearby.”
Vance believes that St. Mary’s has the right to expand, just not to the proposed degree.

“[St. Mary’s does] amazing work,” said Vance. “[Weeks Woodlands has] never hesitated to say that.”
According to Vance, the case has four defendants – St. Mary’s, the Department of Buildings (DOB), the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and the New York State Dormitory Authority (DASNY). He alleged that the DOB granted the building permit, the DOH approved the building plans and the DASNY assisted with the loan package for the construction.
Vance alleged that a decision from appellate court would be returned in the near future.
The DOH claimed they are a respondent in the litigation, but could not provide any more information.
The DOB and DASNY could not be reached as of press time.

Stupendous student scores scholarship


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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Stellar scholar Sarah Gafur snagged an award from the 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing competition – the country’s longest-running and most prestigious academic scholarship program for those who excel in the visual and literary arts.

Gafur, an eighth grader at P.S. 232 in Howard Beach, won a $6,000 scholarship to attend a three-week program at Wellesley College this summer, specialized for gifted students seeking a collegiate experience early in their academic careers. She is one of eight students throughout New York City who was chosen for this educational honor.

Since the program’s start in 1923, over nine million students have received recognition for their artistic achievements, sharing in more than $25 million in scholarships. Many distinguished members of the creative world were recipients of this award including Andy Warhol, Robert Redford, Richard Avedon, Zac Posen, Sylvia Plath and John Lithgow.

Where kids can have fun and be active


| chudson@queenscourier.com

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Seventeen percent of young people in the U.S. suffer from obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama launched a national campaign to promote fitness and exercise among young people. And right in Howard Beach, local business owner Peter Guarneri is doing his part to combat the obesity epidemic and help kids stay active. Guarneri runs Kids ‘N Shape, an indoor gymnasium and play center for children.

Kids ‘N Shape was started by Guarneri’s father in 1989.

“My father was a phys ed teacher for over 30 years,” Peter explained. “He started the business to give kids more education about sports and fitness and how to stay in shape.”

Kids ‘N Shape offers a variety of activities that combine fun and fitness for children from ages 18 months to 11 years. Facilities include inflatable rides, an obstacle course, a full basketball court, a ball pit, a zip line, and even an Xbox Kinect game console.

Kids ‘N Shape can accommodate children brought by parents for individual play or groups of students on a class trips. The lucky kid who gets to have a birthday party hosted at Kids ‘N Shape can expect to have the whole facility at his or her disposal.

Parents shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to enroll their children in the popular Kids ‘N Shape summer camp, which is staffed by licensed teachers. Parents who enroll their children this summer will receive a 10 percent discount on summer camp tuition if full payment is made by May 1.

At Kids ‘N Shape children learn that there’s more to having fun than being plugged in to the latest gadget.

“It’s a great place to get your kids to stay active and teach them to stay fit, and not just play video games,” Peter said. “Fitness activities are fun as well.”

Kids ‘N Shape is located at 162-26 Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach. To learn more, visit kidsnshape.com or call 718-848-2052.

 

Parents, students, staff say Closing Flushing High School ‘Not A Solution’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

While graduation rates at Flushing High School have climbed over the years — and education officials praised some of the school’s “areas of strength” — the extra credit points may not be enough to save the embattled institution.

Hundreds of supporters — sporting anti-Mayor Bloomberg pins — packed Flushing’s auditorium to have their voices heard by the Department of Education (DOE) during an agency-hosted public hearing on April 16.

Flushing is one of 26 high schools on the updated list for Turnaround after seven were removed from the original list of 33 on April 2. If the school is turned around, it would close and reopen under a new name. The students at the school would be guaranteed a seat, and half the teachers would be replaced, according to the DOE.

“Closing the school is not a solution,” said Jenny Chen, who teaches Chinese at the school. “If they change 50 percent of the staff, then it’s going to create a disaster. The students know now where to find help, and they know who they can talk to. I feel angry, and I feel sorry for the students and parents. They don’t deserve that.”

DOE Deputy Chancellor David Weiner said closing and replacing Flushing with a new school would “create a school environment that will prepare students for success, college, work and life.”

The statement launched an avalanche of uproar amongst audience members — many of whom told The Courier they felt improvements made along the years have been overlooked or ignored.

Graduation rates at Flushing have risen from 54 percent in 2007 to 60 percent in 2010, according to the DOE’s report. The review also indicated “areas of strength” at the school, including Flushing’s ability to “maintain a culture of mutual trust and positive attitudes toward learning.”

However, the report states these elements do not particularly help keep the school open, but is instead “worth preserving” in the new school.

“With the new supports and restructuring available under the Turnaround model, we expect that the New School will be able to effectively leverage these areas of strength while improving student outcomes for all students,” the report stated.

James Manning, a junior at the school, said Flushing’s major problems stem from an “overwhelming” population of students who cut school every day, do drugs in the hallway and simply “choose not to learn.” He said this is at no fault to the teachers.

“No matter who you put in front of that classroom, they are still the same kids,” Manning, 16, said.

While senior Sun Lin is graduating as possibly Flushing’s last valedictorian, he said the real honor lies in having attended Flushing for four years — a school he now considers a second home.

“Seeing a home be destroyed is not what I want,” Lin said.

Some supporters said the DOE jumped the gun by already introducing the new school’s proposed principal — Magdalen Radovich — before the city’s Panel for Educational Policy even voted on the closure. The DOE Division of Portfolio Planning hosted the meeting on April 25, and the voting took place a day after on April 26. The Courier went to press before both events.

Debate League comes to Queens


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy Simon Cousins

Around 300 students, parents and teachers from across the city gathered at the Garden School in Jackson Heights this past weekend to watch lively middle school students debate a range of topics during the Metropolitan Debate League’s most recent competition.

The debate league, which draws participating teams from all types of schools in the Metropolitan area, had not previously held a competition in Queens.
“We aim to give students the tools to analyze their own world, engage with peers they might not otherwise meet, and, through friendly competition, allow them to survey and level their own playing field,” said Rhiannon Bettivia, president and co-founder of the Metropolitan Debate League.

Garden School coaches Kevin Burgoyne and Rich Kruczek said that the goal of hosting the event was to show appreciation for the Metropolitan Debate League and the opportunities it has given their students. The school provided refreshments throughout the day, sandwiches for lunch, and coffee, tea, and Wi-Fi access for all. “Even though we are only in our first year with the Metropolitan Debate League, we wanted to respond to the warm welcome that we had received by providing a host site for the group,” said the Garden School’s Headmaster, Richard Marotta, Ph.D. “It was very exciting for us to host, since it allowed more of our own families and teachers to attend and get a flavor of what debate is and what it means to the students.”

The students spent the day debating five topics, including financial literacy classes in public schools, organ donations, state primary election participation, debate league gender quotas, and United States trade regulations. The teams were given 15 minutes to prepare speeches on the topics before each debate. The day culminated in an awards ceremony honoring the top 30 speakers and the top 10 teams.

Among those awards, Garden School won two Top 10 Individual Speaker awards out of about 100 debaters, one Top 10 Team Award out of about 30 teams, and two Top 30 Individual Speaker Awards.

“We don’t just argue in a room. When we debate, we are learning valuable life skills,” said Garden School debate team member Daphne Davis.