Tag Archives: LIC High School

Star of Queens: Orion Bustamante, volunteer, Youth Empowerment through the Arts, Hour Teen


| editorial@queenscourier.com

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COMMUNITY SERVICE: Orion Bustamante, 15, recently ended a three-month volunteer position at the Queens Public Library. During this time, he would help put away, label and sort returned items. He also helped kids, ranging from first to eighth grade, with their homework and tutored them.

Currently Orion is involved in an after-school program called Youth Empowerment through the Arts. He is also a member of Hour Teen, a program offered by the nonprofit agency Hour Children, which provides services to help formerly incarcerated mothers and their children rejoin the community. On May 18, Orion and other members of Hour Teen will be walking five miles in Central Park for the AIDS Walk New York.
A couple months ago Orion also participated as director of photography in Cinequest’s Picture the Possibilities program.

BACKGROUND: Orion was born in Las Vegas, raised in California and now lives in Long Island City. He is a freshman at LIC High School on the Honor Roll and participates in school activities such as Global Kids and National Junior Honor Society. He is in the process of joining the school’s lacrosse team and is also part of Hour Children’s Hour Mentoring Program.

“I have a wonderful mentor named Andrew who I go out with nearly every weekend and do stuff I’ve never done before,” he said.

Orion also enjoys going to Starbucks with his friends after school for a Frappuccino.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Orion’s favorite memory is the moment he got to see his father come home after being incarcerated for two years.

“[My favorite memory is] getting to see my dad for the first time in two years without having to drive eight hours upstate on a bus, going through metal detectors, and being surrounded by barbed wire fences and bars,” he said. “We made him a welcome home banner and hung it in our building’s hallway right by our front door.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Through the years, Orion said his biggest challenge was seeing his mom struggle with losing her job and having to move out of their home. His family of four then went on to live in a one-bedroom apartment, which ended up getting flooded.

“During all of this my dad was incarcerated, so my mom had to care for us herself. In spite of this all, I managed to balance my life,” he said. “My family, school life, social life and my personal life. It is sort of like a mailman with a lot of packages: he has his arms full and needs to keep his baggage stacked evenly to keep it from falling in the middle of the street.”

INSPIRATION: “What inspires me to do what I do is my mom,” Orion said. “She took care of me and my brother all by herself.”

The 15-year-old said he is inspired by his mother, who managed to buy a house at 19 and, although she didn’t finish college, she has a job at Goodwill Industries, where she has been promoted three times.
“She never gave up. At our worst times when we were in ruins she was the only one to keep us going every day,” he said. “She is what keeps us in order. I don’t know where we would be today without her. I am driven to make her proud and to be as great of a person as she is one day. I love her. She is my mother, the person who brought me into this world. She’s one of my best friends, role model, inspiration, and most important of all – my arrow. She is what holds me back only so that I could be launched into something great.”

 

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Queens school co-locations approved


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Kids, make room. Nine borough school co-locations have been approved and are planned to go into effect by the next school year.

For the 2014 to 2015 school year, co-location plans will be executed in Martin Van Buren High School, J.H.S. 226 on Rockaway Boulevard, P.S. 40 in Jamaica, J.H.S. 72 in Jamaica and Long Island City (LIC) High School.

A Success Academy Charter School will additionally move in with August Martin High School and Voyages Prep, and another in I.S. 59 Springfield Gardens.

In the 2015 school year, the Elmhurst Educational Campus will hold five different schools, and the proposed co-location in M.S. 311 will take place in the 2016 school year.

The bundle of co-locations was approved at the Panel for Educational Policy’s (PEP) October meeting.

“True to form, every single proposal was approved by the spineless puppets appointed by Bloomberg,” said Ken Achiron, a teacher at LIC High School and the school’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT) chapter leader. “Not once did they waiver that the ‘King’ could be wrong.”

Even still, the next mayor has the power to reverse the plan, and “there’s a lot of rumbles going on” as to whether that will happen, said Dmytro Fedkowskyj, the PEP Queens rep appointed by the borough president.

The initial co-location plans projected five years ahead and claimed they will keep the school buildings just at full capacity. But Fedkowskyj, who voted against the proposals, said “so many things can happen, who’s to say their projections will be right?”

A Department of Education spokesperson said “across the city” they have “transformed the landscape with our new school options.”

“This will be a new option that will deliver great outcomes for children, and we’re confident it will be in very high demand,” said the spokesperson.

 

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LIC High School students voice opposition to co-location


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Above photo by Angy Altamirano/Building photo by Rosa Kim

These bulldogs are not ready to go down without a fight.

School officials, students, community members and local elected officials gathered in the auditorium of Long Island City High School, home of the Bulldogs and referred to as “LIC,” on October 23 during a public hearing to voice their opposition to the Department of Education’s (DOE) proposal to co-locate a new school within the building.

The DOE’s Panel for Education Policy is expected to vote on the proposal that would open a new Career and Technical (CTE) high school in the 14-30 Broadway building by September 2014.

Students, with faces painted with the school’s colors and holding signs that read “We are LIC, One team, One Family,” rallied against the co-location before heading into the hearing.

“I consider LIC my home away from home,” said Irving Torres, LIC High School senior and student member of District 30’s Community Education Council (CEC). “I will not stand by as I watch my home be attacked by this proposal.”

If the proposal is approved, students of LIC High School and P.S. 993, a special needs District 75 school currently located in the building, would have to share their space with the new school. Students fear this will bring cuts to their beloved AP courses and extracurricular activities.

In order to make room for the incoming ninth grade class, the DOE will make enrollment cuts at LIC High School beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.

The high school, which currently has 2,524 enrollees, will have around 2,000 students by the 2017-2018 school year.

“They have yet to tell us who besides the chancellor and the mayor want this,” said Ken Achiron, a teacher at LIC High School for 25 years and chapter leader for the United Federation of Teachers. “The reality is it’s some children first, certain children always, but LIC children never.”

In the proposal, the DOE said the school has received an overall “C” grade for three consecutive years on its progress reports and enrollment cuts are only in response to what has already been occurring at the school for years through diminishing student sign up. However, those opposed said the new principal, Vivian Selenikas, has been taking the school on the right path to success and the co-location would only take away from the school’s achievements.

“I’m not going to let them take away my school,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who graduated from LIC High School in 1986. “The last thing we need is a new school dropped in here that no one has asked for.”

The high school was in danger of closing last year when officials put it on a Turnaround list alongside Flushing High School and 22 other city schools.

“It seems to me that every time our school achieves success, the DOE finds a way to combat it,” said Divya Ramdath, president of LIC High School’s student organization. “LIC has a future, only if the DOE allowed it.”

The DOE did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

 

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‘Practice Makes Perfect’ for LIC High School grad


| Phertling@queenscourier.com

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Karim Abouelnaga believes so strongly that “practice makes perfect” he named the non-profit he created just that.

Abouelnaga, 20, a senior at Cornell University and graduate of Long Island City High School, created an intensive summer education program for elementary school children. The pilot program kicked off last summer in Long Island City, where he is from.

His parents emigrated to the United States from Egypt in the 1980s. Originally, they planned for Karim and his brothers to one day run their family store, Little Egypt.

But during his freshmen year of high school, Abouelnaga’s father was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma. Without life insurance, the family resorted to selling all the store’s assets, as well as their home.

“That was my first realization of what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” said Abouelnaga. “The family business was no longer an option.”

He quickly began to focus on his education. At the end of his sophomore year, Abouelnaga paired up with mentors from the “REACH- Rewarding Achievements” non-profit organization. It was a move that provided guidance in the right direction and added much needed value to his educational experience.

After finishing high school with a 97 average, Abouelnaga went on to spend a semester at Baruch College, where he had a 4.0 GPA. The next semester, he transferred to Cornell University, where he is now a rising senior in the School of Hotel Administration.

“Practice Makes Perfect” was founded in 2011 with a group of his friends at the university, but the foundations were laid at Baruch. An ambitious adviser there made Abouelnaga aware of the United States achievement gap, which costs the country between $310 and $525 billion every year. The gap “refers to the disparity in academic performance between groups of students,” according to Education Week.

This is what inspired Abouelnaga to come up with a plan that could improve education for low-income, inner city families.

After coming across a few ideas, Abouelnaga found it possible to create an intensive summer education program for elementary school children. The LIC pilot program was held in a classroom from Monday through Friday, where underachieving fourth graders were paired with ambitious ninth graders. As a result, children gained four percent in reading skills, six percent in math, and the summer learning loss was eliminated all together. The program also hired college interns to supervise while experiencing inner city teaching.

This year, Abouelnaga planned on expanding the summer program to two new sites in New York City. In order to do so, he was hit with the task of raising triple the money.

On August 5, he competed in the 25th Annual Central Park Triathlon a quarter-mile swim, 12 mile bike ride and three mile run — in order to raise a goal of $10,000.

A total of 171 donors raised $10,450 for his organization. A Trek 2200 bicycle, valued at nearly $2,000, was also donated by Brickwell Cycling and Multisports to support the effort.

He finished second place in the 18-24 age group and ninth overall.

As a result of all the donations, “Practice Makes Perfect” was able to have classes at Long Island City High School, Bedford Stuyvesant Preparatory High School in Brooklyn and Harlem’s Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School this summer.

College interns, along with the ninth grade mentors, now do community service on Saturday afternoons as part of the organizations new “Serving our Streets” program. They were able to donate 1,000 articles of clothing and more than 500 pounds of food citywide.

“Practice Makes Perfect” was recognized at the 5th Annual Clinton Global Initiative University Conference, which selects the top 16 college commitments worldwide.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who also competed in the triathlon, has also reached out to Abouelnaga in the hopes of expanding “Practice Makes Perfect.”