Tag Archives: Maspeth High School

Maspeth High School’s summer debate camp gets visit from councilwoman

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtesy Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley's office

Maspeth High School is still leaving Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley speechless.

This summer the school held a two-week debate camp for students from fourth through 12th grades. During the session, members and participants of the Queens Debate Institute introduced interested students to the art of debate.

Crowley, who dedicated $5,000 for the Maspeth High School debate team in this year’s budget, paid a visit to the camp at the school on Aug. 31 prior to its culminating tournament.

“The community is so proud to have a first-class debate team right here at Maspeth High School, and I enjoy seeing the team share their talents with other youth in New York City,” Crowley said. “Debate is used in so many everyday situations, and I’m pleased so many students are developing that skill so early in life.”

The Queens Debate Institute summer camp is a “two-week boot camp, teaching the fundamentals of debate from public speaking, ending with a full debate tournament on the last day of camp,” said Erik Fogel, director of the New York City Urban Debate League.

“Debate teaches every academic subject including current events, philosophy, critical theory, economics, geography, political science — many subjects that students normally do not learn until college or graduate school. As a result, every study shows that students that participate in debate have higher graduation rates, college acceptance rates, grades, test scores and every other academic indicator,” Fogel added. “Thank you to Council member Crowley for supporting Queens’ great debaters and inspiring them to apply their debate skills to real life to change the world around them.”


Kids learn basketball fundamentals at Maspeth High School summer camp

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

Maspeth High School wrapped up its second summer basketball camp, where local middle school students came together to learn the fundamentals of basketball, play some games and, most importantly, have fun.

The one-week camp session, which ended on Friday, was led by Maspeth High School’s boys varsity basketball team head coach Anastasia Bitis, who helped lead the Argonauts to an undefeated record last year and a city championship.

Thirty area middle school students attended this year’s camp at Maspeth High School. Boys and girls of all levels got the chance to hone their skills, learn new ones and play plenty of basketball games.

“The kids love it,” Bitis said. “We had an extensive waiting list this year. We teach the kids the fundamentals and how to work together with team work.”

“The main thing we want the kids to learn is to work hard and to work with each other,” she continued. “It’s important for the more skilled players to help make the others better. The goal is for the kids to have fun overall, to grow their love of the game and to stay fit.”

Bitis explained that during the one-week camp the students are trained in several drills and exercises including conditioning skills, half-court and full-court drills, jump shooting, layups and dribbling skills.

“The kids get to learn a little bit of everything,” Bitis said. “And then they get to incorporate what they’ve learned into the game situations.”

After skills training, the kids are broken up into teams where they play games against each other in one-on-one, three-on-three and five-on-five style games. Bitis invited players from the Argonauts to join as counselors, where they help teach the kids and act as coaches for the teams.

“When coach Bitis asked me to come back and be a counselor this year, I said I would love to do it,” said Damian Piszczatowki, former player on the Argonauts who graduated this year and will be attending John Jay College next year. “I really enjoy it. I came back this year because I love working with the kids, teaching them and helping them grow. It’s fun to interact with them and you get the opportunity to play like a kid again.”

“It’s been a great experience,” said Christian Ramirez, who is entering his senior year at Maspeth High School. “As someone who started playing basketball at an older age, it’s nice to see them playing the game at a young age. One of my favorite things about the camp is the coaching. Seeing it from the coach’s perspective is different.”

The kids were excited to get the chance to learn new skills and play some basketball.

“I think the camp is really good,” said Jesse Morales, 13, who is entering eighth grade at St. Adalbert School in September. “It’s really fun and we are learning a lot. We get to learn exercises, run around, practice dribbling, the basics and how to perfect them.”

“I like the councilors. They’re fun,” said Ashley Petrasovic, 12, who is going into the eighth grade at P.S. 128. “The people here make you learn a lot of new stuff. I like the three-on-three and five-on-five games we play.”

As the camp came to a close, certificates and special awards were handed out to the players.

“We have the MVP award, the most improved player award, the best defensive player award and the coach’s award,” Bitis said. “We also have a skills competition and the winner gets a free T-shirt.”


Argonauts finish second in NY State Federation Tournament

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Maspeth High School

After winning the B Division City Championship in the Public School Athletic League (PSAL), the Maspeth High School boys varsity basketball team followed up that performance with a second-place showing in the New York State Federation Class B Tournament.

In their first tournament game, Maspeth faced off against a tough Dwight School Lions team in the SEFCU Arena at the University of Albany.

The Argonauts didn’t get off to a promising start, falling behind 10-2 in the opening minutes. At the beginning of the second quarter, Maspeth put together a 10-2 run to tie the game at 12. The Lions quickly took back control of the game, scoring 18 points in just over four minutes. Dwight held a commanding 35-19 lead heading into the half.

The Argonauts had a tough task ahead of them but were more than up for the challenge. They chipped away at Dwight’s lead during the third and fourth quarters and with two minutes remaining in the game, the Argonauts trailed by only one point, 47-46.

Maspeth’s Paolo Tamer hit a layup with 1:30 left, giving the Argonauts a 48-47 lead. Matthew Nickel followed that up with a 3-pointer, putting Maspeth up 51-47.

Dwight’s Dajuan Piper then hit a layup and was fouled. He scored the free throw and brought the Lions to within one point of the Argonauts with 30 seconds remaining in the game.

Maspeth missed two free throws, giving the Lions one final chance, but Dwight missed a short jumper at the buzzer to cement the Argonauts’ comeback victory, 51-50, sending them to the finals of the tournament.

In the finals, Maspeth faced off against Park School, although their fate would not be the same.

The Park School Pioneers jumped all over the Argonauts from the tip off, leading 18-10 after the first and 35-24 at the half. The Pioneers put together a 15-0 run during the third quarter and led 50-29 heading into the fourth quarter.

The game ended with the Pioneers victorious, 71-50, dashing the Argonauts’ dreams of a state championship.

“It was a tough game for us as the five starters on that team were all over 6 foot 2 inches,” Maspeth coach Anastasia Bitis said. “Our team never gave up even after being down by 20-plus points.”

The Argonauts are looking forward to next year to defend their PSAL title and possibly bringing home the state championship.


Maspeth High School boys win championship

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Maspeth High School

The Maspeth High School boys basketball team completed their quest for a perfect season when they defeated Frederick Douglass Academy III, 57-42, on Saturday, March 21, in the finals of the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) B Division championship tournament.

The Argonauts dominated the game at Baruch College from the beginning, scoring 18 in the first quarter and 17 in the second, giving them a 35-17 lead heading into halftime. Frederick Douglass Academy III picked up the pace in the second half, outscoring the Argonauts in both the third and fourth quarters, but the big deficit was too much to overcome.

Maspeth High School had four players score in double digits, and three of those students finished the game with double-doubles. Team captain, senior Damian Piszczatowski, scored 11 points and added 13 rebounds, senior Michael Bugaj dropped 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and senior Paolo Tammer put up 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Junior Matthew Nickel added 10 points in the effort.

The Argonauts finished the regular season 18-0, and were unbeaten throughout the playoffs to end their championship season, and first full season in the PSAL, 23-0.

“Honestly, it still hasn’t totally sunk in that we actually made this happen,” Argonauts coach Anastasia Bitis said. “I had a moment with 30 seconds left that I looked up and realized that the game was over and I just broke down. It’s extremely overwhelming—it feels unreal. This was a vision that I had since last year. I’m extremely grateful. I am very proud of my boys!”

The Argonauts head to Albany this weekend for the State Federation Tournament, where they will face off against Westhill.

“We have already started scouting and analyzing them. I believe we are ready,” Bitis said.


Maspeth High School basketball makes the finals

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo: Courtesy Maspeth High School

The Maspeth High School Argonauts boys varsity basketball team continued its roll in the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) B-division championship tournament by defeating South Bronx High School on Sunday, March 15, at Queens College by a score of 71-64, advancing to the tournament finals.

The game saw the Argonauts jump out to an early lead, taking a 33-27 score into halftime. South Bronx battled their way back in the second half, scoring 29 points and knotting the game up at 56-56 after regulation. In overtime, the Argonauts dominated, outscoring South Bronx 15-8 to come out victorious.

Senior Paolo Tamer lead the Argonauts with a double-double, dropping 26 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Junior Matthew Nickel added 18 points of his own to help Maspeth High School remain undefeated on the season.

The Argonauts will face off against Frederick Douglas Academy III on Saturday, March 21, in the championship game at Baruch College’s main gym at 1 p.m.


Maspeth High School boys basketball team advances to quarterfinals

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Maspeth High School

The Maspeth High School boys varsity basketball team stayed undefeated on Wednesday, surviving a tough challenge in the third round of the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) championship tournament.

Playing on their home court, the Maspeth boys defeated the High School for Health Professionals and Human Services, 62-59.

Senior guard Paolo Tamer led the way for Maspeth with an impressive triple-double, posting 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the win. Team captain, senior guard/forward Damian Piszczatowski, dropped 12 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.

The next match will be this Sunday, March 8.

Maspeth earned a first-round bye in the championship tournament by posting an undefeated record in the regular season, going 18-0. With this win, the boys have run their unbeaten streak to 20 games.


Maspeth High School looks to tighten admission standards

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley


Looking to take the cream of the high school crop, Maspeth High School is considering adopting new admission criteria, a local parent warned during Monday’s Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) civic association meeting in Elmhurst.

Joann Berger, I.S. 73 PTA president, informed attendees of a plan to convert the high school located at 54-40 74th St. to a limited screened school. The school opened in 2011 as a limited, unscreened community school, with students residing in District 24 given top priority for entry.

According to Berger, school administrators are petitioning the Community Education Council of District 24 (CEC 24) for a change in its enrollment criteria. Under the proposed changes, incoming students would need to meet a new set of criteria, such as higher grade point averages, in order to be accepted into the school.

“If they go screened, that means only those top students will be getting in,” Berger said. “It would be almost like a specialized school without having to take the specialized high school test.”

Berger estimates that Maspeth High School has allocated approximately 300 seats per incoming school year. I.S. 73, which is a mere four blocks away from the high school, has nearly 690 students in their eighth-grade graduating class.

“They won’t even be able to accept half of the students from the school,” she added. “We don’t have enough high school seats within District 24 as it is.”

Maspeth High School first opened as part of the Metropolitan Avenue High School campus back in September 2011. It relocated to its current home in Maspeth the following year.

“This is the third year that they’re in the building, their first year with a graduating class, and they’re already requesting to change it to that new criteria,” Berger said.

According to Berger, representatives from Maspeth High School will make their proposal to the CEC 24 on March 24. Thereafter, the council will then make a recommendation for or against the plan to the Department of Education’s Office of Enrollment.

“The President’s Council and the PTAs in our district are not in favor of this,” she explained. “We are the most overcrowded school district in the city. We wanted a community school that is also a college preparatory school for our children.”

On May 9, CEC 24 will hold an election to fill nine of the 12 slots on the board designated to district parents. Parents of students of District 24 schools from kindergarten through eighth grade interested in seeking a CEC seat must apply online by March 11.

Berger estimates that there are approximately over 57,000 students in District 24. But she said the area known as “COMET-land” (Maspeth, Elmhurst and Woodside) is grossly underrepresented on CEC 24.

“There’s a huge section of our district which encompasses Glendale, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Corona,” Berger explained, “Of the nine members who sit on the CEC, there is nobody representing areas north of Juniper Valley Park. Middle Village and Glendale are the only ones with parents currently sitting on the board right now.”

COMET President Rosemarie Daraio echoed the need for greater representation. “Nobody is representing students from Maspeth, Elmhurst or Winfield,” she said.

CEC members make decisions regarding school zoning issues, school construction and the allocation of capital funding to schools within the district.


Op-Ed: Ensuring the safety of our children

| oped@queenscourier.com


Drivers need to be more conscientious near schools. Just a few days ago, students of I.S. 73 in Maspeth got seriously injured by an out-of-control vehicle. As police investigate this accident, we owe it to those injured students and their classmates to make our streets safer.

Grand Avenue is a very busy street. The vehicular traffic is made worse during school arrival and dismissal time as P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School are all located within six blocks of each other. I believe it is imperative to implement changes as soon as possible, and on Monday, along with PTA leaders, I met with Queens DOT Commissioner Dalila Hall on site to discuss how to make Grand Avenue safer.

The stretch of Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and I.S. 73 is in need of “Safe Routes to School” program and a slowdown zone where the speed limit is reduced to 20 miles per hour. The safe routes program redesigns streets, which include expanding sidewalks, new lane paintings and improved signal timing, to ease congestion around schools.

Recently, the DOT studied vehicle speeds around all schools in New York City, and they found that 98 percent of vehicles driving around P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School are going over the speed limit. This is dangerous and simply unacceptable. A comprehensive study by the DOT to change traffic patterns and slow down drivers through its “Safe Routes to School” program would be a major help in reducing congestion around these schools.

There must be constant traffic enforcement by the NYPD and DOT today. I have called on both agencies to ticket trucks that are not making local deliveries, and speeding drivers who are endangering our children must be stopped. New York recently approved speed camera enforcement at 20 schools in the city. Placing one of these cameras at Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and I.S. 73 would certainly slow drivers down once tickets begin arriving in the mail.

Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of our children traveling to and from school. I have brought the concerns of the community to DOT, and together, we must demand the DOT prioritize safety on Grand Avenue. Our most vulnerable and precious resource are our children, and we must do everything to keep them safe.

Elizabeth Crowley represents the 30th Council District, covering Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood and Woodhaven




Student injured in Maspeth crash dies days later of asthma attack

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

A student injured when an SUV jumped the curb in Maspeth last week has died, education officials confirmed.

Michael Gomez, 13, died at Elmhurst Hospital on Sunday, September 15 of an asthma attack, according to reports.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott reached out to his family and the principal of I.S. 73 to express his condolences and grief counselors were dispatched to the school to talk with students and teachers.

Gomez received cuts and bruises when  the silver Honda Pilot slammed into him and four other students of nearby I.S. 73 in front a deli on Thursday, September 12. Gomez was brought to Elmhurst Hospital, but released the next day.

Two other students injured in the accident are still recovering in Elmhurst Hospital and another in New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.

When the SUV hit the students, one girl was trapped underneath the vehicle, witnesses said. Good Samaritans rushed to help, and a half-dozen men lifted the car, while a resident pulled the girl out.

“I was so overwhelmed. I’m still in shock,” said Candice Cruz, who lives above the deli. When the car hit the students, she hurried to help and pulled the girl out from under. “Seeing the little body under there and the little girl trying to breathe, it was horrible.”

The driver of the car was trying to park in a spot in front the deli, but pressed on the gas pedal too hard, according to authorities.

Video surveillance from the deli corroborates this. Police did not charge the driver with a crime, although the investigation is ongoing, cops said.

The corner is usually filled with many children in the morning during school time, and many students go into the store to get breakfast, said Julio Lopez, who works at the deli.

“I just [stepped off] the sidewalk because my friend called me,” said Weiss Safdary, a 10th grader at Grover Cleveland High School. “I would have been under there too.”

Grand Avenue is a busy, narrow commercial strip with many trucks, buses and cars. Besides I.S. 73, about a block from the scene are P.S. 58 and Maspeth High School.

Residents have been highlighting the need for safety measures such as more signs to protect students.

“Maybe they should put something on the sidewalk,” said Carl Panganbian, 10th grader. “It’s for student safety, because you never know when [an accident] is going to happen.”



Crash near Maspeth school prompts talk of safety improvements

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

While on a safety tour around Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and Maspeth High School, one parent suddenly said, “You don’t even see the sign that there is a school here. It’s hidden behind a tree.”

Another joined in and said “the ‘school x-ing’ [markings] have faded away.”

The parents were walking around the street, pointing out issues following last week’s accident when an SUV jumped the curb and injured five students of nearby I.S. 73.

“We have to do something about it, this can’t fall on deaf ears,” said Maryann Johnson, president of the P.S. 58 Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

Johnson saw the scene of the accident and promised that safety will be a top priority for discussion at the next PTA meeting at the end of the month.

The parents got together for the tour on Monday, September 16, hosted by Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. Crowley brought along Department of Transportation Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall to see what can be done to improve safety in the area.

“Some of the things that they were asking for are slower speeds and more signs for drivers,” Hall said.

The three grade schools in the area, I.S. 73, P.S. 58 and Maspeth High School, are only a few blocks from each other and because Grand Avenue is a busy, narrow commercial strip, it presents danger to hundreds of children, parents said.

Parents also believe that other “stubborn” parents are partly to blame. They said that some speed into the area quickly because they are running late, and others illegally double and sometimes triple park to let children off. This adds to the congestion created by numerous vehicles already in the area.

Crowley suggested turning the area into a Slowdown Zone so cars go only 15 to 20 mph. The politician has also been fighting to remove Grand Avenue from the truck map so rigs would stop traveling down the skinny street. She has also advocated to convert nearby 70th Street to a one-way.

“I have two kids in local schools,” Crowley said. “I want to make sure that all parents don’t have to worry about their kids going to and from school.”




Vets get valuable info at forum

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Army veteran Henry Dumas knows the importance of military benefits.

The Queens native served in Korea, Germany and Panama. When he returned and needed a job, Helmets to Hardhats, which finds constructions jobs for veterans, helped him. Now he wants a house and hopes the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) can help with that.

“I have been thinking about it for a while and it would be good if the VA could assist me in doing that,” Dumas, 36, said.

Dozens of veterans attended a forum at Maspeth High School on July 15, which Congressmember Grace Meng and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley organized, to learn about available services and benefits.

“When you are physically separated from family, from jobs, it’s hard to come back,” Meng said. “And to have to get readjusted to society it’s something that’s very difficult for them. We want to make sure that our veterans are taken care of.”

The forum featured a lecture by Edward Perry from the VA’s New York office. Perry explained how former military personnel can apply for compensation. He also described stipulations for the VA pension and touched on veterans’ life insurance, home loans and the eligibility details of the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Various veterans’ groups also gave out information about their programs, ranging from assisting with unemployment to equal rights, education and legal services.

The Allied Veterans Memorial Day Parade Committee of Ridgewood and Glendale took time at the event to honor Crowley with a plaque. She was able to get funding to save the group’s parade several months ago.
Crowley said she hopes the forum can become an annual event, something Dumas agreed with.

“These things should happen more often,” he said. “There are benefits that are available to us and veterans should know about them.”



Maspeth community welcomes new high school site

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley

A year after its opening, Maspeth High School now has a new, state-of-the art building to call home.

The Maspeth community welcomed the new school building to the neighborhood in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, February 25, with Borough President Helen Marshall, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, various elected officials and school administrators.

“Maspeth is a better place to live and raise a family because we have this high school,” said Crowley. “The new building is providing the facilities for 21st century learning for our students.”

The opening ceremony featured performances by the school’s string orchestra, the International Thespian Society and the dance company.

Maspeth High School first opened for the 2011 to 2012 school year at the Queens Metropolitan High School campus on Metropolitan Avenue. The school’s new site is roughly three miles away, on 74th Street in Maspeth. It was one of the last public high schools in the city to receive local priority zoning, which ensures local residents have the opportunity to attend.