Tag Archives: Martin Van Buren High School

‘Failing’ Van Buren principal replaced


| mchan@queenscourier.com

An unpopular principal of a failing Queens Village high school, who local leaders and parents rallied to remove in February, has been replaced, according to the Department of Education.

Principal Marilyn Shevell — called an “ineffective leader” by members of the PTA and community — retired from Martin Van Buren High School, education officials said. Sam Sochet will take over as the interim acting principal, effective July 1.

“The change in leadership at Martin Van Buren is a long time coming, but it is a necessary step to prevent another one of our neighborhood schools from failing,” said State Senator Tony Avella.

Martin Van Buren received a “D” in the most recent Department of Education (DOE) progress report, which is based on student progress toward graduation, performance on standardized tests and coursework and student attendance. It scored a “C” in the last two years as well.

Shevell took over in 2002, which PTA officials said turned the school into a site of plummeting morale.

A C-30 process will commence early in the next school year to find a permanent principal, said Marge Feinberg, a spokesperson for the DOE.

Students’ posters aim to erase graffiti


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

Senator Tony Avella is aiming to erase any thoughts of vandalism from the minds of the students in his district – and paint them a clear anti-graffiti picture.

The senator joined representatives from the Bayside Business Association (BBA) and students from across northeast Queens on December 15 for his first annual Anti-Graffiti Poster Contest.

“Graffiti is a problem we need to address,” said Avella. “There’s enforcement, there’s corrective action like painting over it and washing it off, but there’s also education. Getting to the kids when they’re in school to let them know graffiti is bad is one of the best ways to eliminate it over time, and having kids tell their fellow peers that graffiti is bad is the best way to do this. So getting the word out by students talking to students is a big thing, and hopefully it will lead to a reduction of graffiti in the future.”

Beginning in September, Avella’s contest encouraged students to create artwork against graffiti. The competition was available to students of all ages, providing a wide spectrum of artistic interpretations. Winners and runners-up were chosen from three categories: elementary, middle and high school. Lauren Lashley, who finished first in the high school division, says her work was inspired by personal experiences.

“[I was motivated by] the terrible graffiti signs I would find outside my house,” said the 17-year-old senior at Martin Van Buren High School, whose poster idea came to her in a dream. “It really bothered me, and I knew people that lived nearby and they were so frustrated about it.”

All 550 participants received merit certificates for entering the contest, and Avella will attempt to place the posters in prominent positions throughout his district.

Due to a donation from the BBA, winners also received $100, with a second place finish earning students $50.

“We always give to everything that we can in Bayside, and what better cause than to give to children and to foster their imaginations,” said Judith Limpert, president of the BBA. “Anti-graffiti is important because it affects everybody. It’s a blight on the peace and tranquility of a neighborhood. We are trying to do anything we can to get the children to realize not to do it because it’s not conducive to a nice place to live.”

The elementary school winners – Lauren and Meagan Lovett and Nicole Kardum – based their poster on the environmental hazards of graffiti. Despite their hard work, the fourth graders at P.S. 162 refuse to be selfish with their prize money.

“We would like to donate [our winnings] to breast cancer [foundations],” said Kardum. “We don’t want to keep the money. We want to do something good with it.”

Queens schools score on DOE progress reports


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Students at The Academy of Finance and Enterprise spend the last two periods of the day participating in a “virtual enterprise,” trading stocks and being the CEO of their own company.

Queens high schools can hang their good report cards on the fridge.

This year, according to the Department of Education’s (DOE) annual high school progress report, 19 high schools in Queens received the coveted “A” letter grade, and there were no failing schools in the borough.

The annual report awards public high schools letter grades from “A” to “F” based on student progress toward graduation, performance on standardized tests and coursework and student attendance. They also take into account surveys from parents, students and teachers about their schools and the academic progress made with students with disabilities.

New this year, the report measures how many students in each high school perform well in advanced courses and go on to enroll in college, as well as the progress and graduation rates of black and Latino male students.

The Academy of Finance and Enterprise in Long Island City scored the highest in the borough with a grade of 89.5 percent. The top scoring grade places the school in the top 98.5 percentile of all surveyed high schools in the city.

“This couldn’t have happened if the teachers, staff and students didn’t come together to make sure they succeed,” said Assistant Principal Victoria Armano. “We are a caring community who treats all our children with respect. We provide them with extra support. We want them to get their diploma and go beyond.”
Student Sylwia Baj is not surprised at her school’s success. The senior said her school has done a good job preparing her for the real world.

“For juniors specifically, the school strives to prepare us for the SATs. There are a lot of extra opportunities for us to get help in school,” she said.
Still, not all schools made the grade.

The Law, Government and Community Service High School in Cambria Heights was the lowest scoring school, with an overall total score of 40.9 percent. The school received a “D” and falls in the bottom 6.7 percentile of city high schools.

“It’s not really surprising,” said Malik, a senior who is transferring out of the school. “I feel like the teachers could work a little bit harder with the kids. I don’t think they show us enough attention. They let us do a lot of other stuff in class instead of work. I’m not coming back.”
Students from Humanities and the Arts High School — who share the same Campus Magnet High School building with students from Law and Government — said the score was expected.

“They don’t do any work. They don’t go to class. They stay in the hallway all the time,” said Malcolm, a senior at Humanities and the Arts. “There are also a lot of fights. It’s pretty obvious that it’s not a good school, and once you go to the school, you find out it’s horrible.”
Officials from the high school declined to comment.

Among the other five schools that received a “D” are Flushing High School, Richmond Hill High School, August Martin High School in Jamaica, Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village and Pan American International High School in Elmhurst.

According to data from the DOE, of the 54 high schools surveyed this year, 16 high schools in Queens earned a “B” and 13 received a “C.”
For more information or to find a specific school’s progress report, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ProgressReport.