Tag Archives: Middle School

Northern Queens parents gain no traction during meeting with BP Katz over school program


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Whitestone and Flushing parents were sent back to the drawing board after meeting with Borough President Melinda Katz to discuss their desire to create a gifted and talented program for middle schools in the northern and central Queens area.

Lisa Fusco and a growing number of parents are building a case for the creation of gifted and talented programs for middle schools in their district. During a meeting with Katz and education officials on Wednesday, the parents were told that the district’s superintendent was the only one with the power to extend the program from its limited elementary school reach to middle school.

“They’re giving us the run around,” Fusco said. “We’ve spoken to [Superintendent Danielle Di Mango] before and that hasn’t gotten us anywhere. We’ve tried everything else.”

Mango declined a request for comment.

Fusco’s fourth-grade daughter is enrolled in the gifted and talented program in P.S. 79 and — unlike in many other school districts — the program does not continue into middle school within District 25, which covers most of central and northern Queens. Neighboring districts 26 and 30 provide the program to students in middle school. More than 150 parents have signed a petition to bring the program into their middle schools in places like Flushing and Whitestone.

The gifted and talented programs are meant to provide extra services for students who show academic promise and get bored easily in a traditional classroom setting. Parents must sign up their children for tests to get into the program by November, and children are tested in January and February.

“We have made some real strides engaging community leaders,” Fusco said. “And we will continue to push for the program in our communities.”

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Whitestone and northern Queens residents push for expansion of school program


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Parents in Whitestone and Flushing are trying to give the city a new lesson plan.

Lisa Fusco, from Whitestone, and 150 parents in northern Queens signed a petition to the city Department of Eudcation demanding the creation of gifted and talented programs for the middle schools in their  district. Several of the parents are also meeting with Borough President Melinda Katz and Department of Education officials on Dec. 10 to discuss the issue.

District 25 is bordered by Flushing Meadows Park to the west and Bayside to the east, and it encompasses Pomonok to the south up to Whitestone and College Point.

The large area has six middle schools, but none of them have gifted and talented programs. For Fusco and others, that’s a problem.

“Our children are in the gifted and talented program in the elementary schools and we would like them to continue this wonderful program into middle school,” said Fusco, whose fourth-grade daughter is enrolled in the program in P.S. 79. “It would be such a shame if they had to stop this program.”

The gifted and talented programs are meant to provide extra services for students with a high aptitude who get bored easily in regular classes, according to the Department of Education. Parents must sign up their children for tests to get into the program by November, and children are tested in January and February.

While the program is usually meant for elementary schools, the group’s request isn’t unprecedented. School District 26, which runs along the border with Long Island, and District 30, Long Island City and Astoria, both have middle schools that offer the gifted and talented program.

“I don’t understand why the DOE lacks a citywide policy on [gifted and talented programs] and why it provides [gifted and talented] classes in one district and not another,” said Morris Altman, the president of the education council in District 25.

Justin Chang, from Whitestone, has two boys who are enrolled in the program at P.S. 79, and he worries about what his kids will do if there is no equivalent teaching method being used in the local middle schools.

“They are different and they need help in a different way,” Chang said. “I would just hope they consider opening the program for our district.”

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East Elmhurst students to plant, learn from school garden


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

p30-NEW.pdf - Adobe Acrobat

One East Elmhurst middle school is helping students plant a brighter future.

I.S. 227 Louis Armstrong Middle School, located at 32-02 Junction Blvd., will celebrate the groundbreaking of its school garden on May 14.

Students, parents and school officials will begin building raised garden beds by filling them with soil at the garden at 32nd Avenue and 93rd Street. The goal of the project is to connect the diverse student body to nature and to the environmental and health benefits of gardening, schools officials said.

“Students need to understand about growing. Growing and gardening is a part of their education that’s missing,” eighth-grade teacher Pauline Smith said. “I want them to be more in touch with growing things because that’s how we survive in this world. There’s nothing we eat that didn’t start from a plant.”

The school garden’s nonprofit partners include Junior Energy, NYC Composting Project at the Queens Botanical Garden, Green Thumb and GrowNYC’s Recycling Champions Program.

 

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De Blasio details after-school program expansion plan


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Updated 1:55 p.m.

Mayor Bill de Blasio released an interagency report Monday detailing plans to expand after-school programs to more public middle school students in the city.

The implementation would place programs in all schools with middle school students that do not currently have after-school services as well as non-public school sites, such as community centers and libraries, according to the report.

The expansion, like de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-kindergarten, will require an increase on local income tax for the city’s highest earners.

“This is a critical investment that will transform our schools—but it is also a powerful policy to keep kids out of trouble and fight the influences that can take them off the right path. We need the power to make this investment now,” the mayor said.

De Blasio said the city has “the capacity to ramp up immediately.” But what is still needed, however, is the funding, which would require approval from Albany for the tax increase.

The $190 million proposal will provide an additional 62,791 middle school students with the opportunity to attend free after-school programs, starting in September 2014.

Currently, the Department of Education and Department of Youth and Community Development provide after-school programs that serve approximately 56,369 students in 239 schools each year. The expansion will increase the number of schools with programs to 512.

Funding would also go toward boosting existing programs by increasing their hours of operation.

 

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Growing Up Green Charter School to welcome new middle school to LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Educational Network

Education in Long Island City is getting a much-needed expansion.

The Growing Up Green Charter School, located at 39-27 28th St., will officially be a middle school by 2015.

In September, the facility will welcome 6th graders in a new building, and the following year, will grow to include the 8th grade, bringing a brand new middle school to the area and District 30.

“[I am] very, very excited,” said Matthew Greenberg, principal of the Growing Up Green Charter School. “I think that District 30 needs an additional solid middle school that will give parents additional choices for their children.”

The school, which is slated to open in September, will be located close to the 28th Street location, but a building is yet to be determined, said Greenberg. It is expected to accommodate about 90 students in the upcoming 6th grade class, and a total of about 270 students by 2015.

“As more and more New Yorkers come to western Queens to raise their families, having enough classroom seats to provide a good education is essential,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “Our schools are already stretched too thin, which is why I am pleased with the addition of a middle school at a successful institution like Growing Up Green, and why I will continue fighting to guarantee educational resources in western Queens keep up with development.”

Growing Up Green Charter School is an independent public charter school for K-5,  founded in 2009, which focuses on empowering students “to be conscious, contributing members of their community through a rigorous curriculum and engaging in green culture.”

“For five years Growing Up Green has made meaningful contributions to western Queens. Their curriculum has continued to engage countless students making them active members in our community’s efforts to protect our environment,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. With the addition of a new middle school Growing Up Green will be able to expand the positive impact it has on our neighborhoods and educate even more youth about the importance of contributing to their communities.”

There will be two open houses for those interested in applying to the new middle school. The first will be held on Saturday, March 1 at 1 p.m. at the charter school, and the second will be on March 22 at Long Island City Library, at 37-44 21st St. Applications are available here.

 

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DOE proposes rezoning plan to ease overcrowding at Jackson Heights school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Map Courtesy of the Department of Education

One middle school in Jackson Heights may soon be less crowded.

The Department of Education (DOE) announced proposed rezoning changes to move the boundaries for I.S. 145, at 33-34 80th St., and I.S. 230, at 73-10 34th Ave. in Jackson Heights. The changes would take effect for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Under the rezoning, the boundaries for I.S. 230 would expand to serve a new annex located at 74-03 34th Ave., slated to open in September. The new building is expected to accommodate 420 middle school students.

After the rezoning, about 120 incoming sixth graders from I.S. 145 would be zoned to I.S. 230 in the 2015-2016 school year. No current students will be affected.

According to the DOE, the plan was developed through working with Community Education Council 30 in addressing the needs of the community.

“This rezoning plan reflects a year-long collaboration between the Department and the CEC to create a proposal that best addresses the needs of the entire community,” said  DOE spokesperson Harry Hartfield. “Any final approval of the plan will be decided by the CEC for District 30.”

Isaac Carmignani, co-president and chair of the zoning committee of CEC 30, said the rezoning would bring some relief to the overcrowding of I.S. 145, which together with I.S. 230, is part of School District 30 which suffers from a chronic overcrowding problem.

Currently I.S. 145’s sixth grade is 948 seats and after the rezoning, the number would drop to between 815 and 835. I.S. 230’s size would increase from 350 seats to between 460 to 480.

“It doesn’t change the fact that they are going to still be tightly packed schools,” said Carmignani. “We all are looking at the bigger picture.”

Other schools that might be affected by the rezoning include P.S. 69, P.S. 149, P.S. 212 and P.S. 222 in Jackson Heights, P.S. 228 and P.S. 148 in East Elmhurst, and P.S. 152 in Woodside.

A public meeting to discuss the proposed rezoning changes and learn more information on how it will affect students will be held on Monday, Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. at I.S. 145.

“What we are trying to do is have as much community engagement as possible,” said Carmignani. “We’re looking forward to continue working on this issue as the months and years go by.”

For more information, contact CEC 30 at 718-391-8380 or email cec30@schools.nyc.gov.

 

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Students at P.S./M.S. 207 learn to ‘persevere’ through Wounded Warrior Project


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

One man’s story of perseverance left a crowd of middle schoolers captivated.

Brandon Trapp of the Wounded Warrior Project spoke to the middle school students at P.S./M.S. 207 Rockwood Park as part of a series of monthly assemblies meant to instill different virtues in the youngsters.

The school kicked off the year last month with the topic of respect. Two kids from each grade were awarded for showing respect “above and beyond” as their classmates cheered them on.

This month’s theme, perseverance, brought former Army officer Trapp to Howard Beach to discuss his deployment overseas, a crippling injury and his journey back to normalcy.

“I liked the idea of being a team and serving something bigger than yourself,” Trapp said of his Army beginnings.

In 2010, Trapp deployed to eastern Afghanistan, a site he said was one of the most beautiful, but also the most violent.

“Somebody in our battalion was fighting with the Taliban daily,” he said.

The officer, now a medical student, then recalled the fateful attack that ultimately sent him home. A rocket landed close to him on the field, and Trapp was thrown.

“I knew we had been attacked because I saw the smoke billowing up,” he said. “For the first split second, it didn’t hurt. Then the pain came.”

Trapp later learned he had broken his back. He said at first he couldn’t feel his legs, but after a fellow soldier assured him his legs were in fact still there, he thought, “Alright, this is looking up.”

His First Sergeant put his head against Trapp’s, yelled “We love you sir,” and the officer was transferred to a hospital in Germany, then to Washington, D.C. As he awoke out of a medically induced coma, the first image he saw was the picture of his Army unit — a “screaming eagle” on a black flag, which eventually was filled with signatures of friends, family, doctors and nurses.

Trapp suffered injuries to his femur, torso, left leg and endured extensive nerve damage.

“They weren’t really sure if I’d be able to walk again,” he said.

But the screaming eagle stayed with him through physical therapy, and a little over a month later he was able to take his first steps.

“I made a goal that I wanted to take that flag up a mountain,” he said.

A year after his injury, Trapp and a team of Wounded Warriors climbed Mount Baker in Washington, and while thinking about his own injury and his fellow climbers, Trapp made it to the top.

Trapp started medical school in August and is contemplating going into trauma surgery because he feels he can thank his own doctors by “being in their shoes,” and treating patients like he once was.

To the students, Trapp advised to “be honest with yourself” and “always be focused on what you can do to make a situation better.”

 

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More middle school seats coming to Jackson Heights


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Alex Florez

Students corralled in overcrowded classrooms may soon be able to stretch their legs while exercising their minds.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Borough President Helen Marshall celebrated breaking ground on I.S. 297Q — a new middle school, expected to open in the fall of 2014 in Jackson Heights — at a ceremony on Tuesday, August 7.

The school, which will house sixth through eighth grades, will add 400 seats to District 30 in an effort to alleviate severe crowding. The new four-story building will boast central air, 12 standard classrooms and administration offices, as well as a special education building and specialized accommodations for science, music, art and physical education courses.

Dromm, a former public school teacher for more than 25 years, emphasized the demand for adequately sized classes.

“Smaller class sizes allow teachers to cater to individual student needs,” said Dromm. “I.S. 297 and other new schools are a necessary investment in the future of our students and I will continue fighting to see more neighborhood schools in Jackson Heights.”

According to a spokesperson from Dromm’s office, 1,350 seats were added to district schools, including 600 elementary positions, when P.S. 280 opened in 2010. An additional 350 seats were created when a new wing was added to P.S. 13 in LeFrak City.

“We are thrilled with the additional classrooms because our middle schools are very overcrowded at this point in time,” said Jackson Heights Beautification Group President Ed Westley. “We need more but this is a welcomed start.”

 

Martin Luther now has a middle school


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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After more than 50 years of serving Queens as a high school, Martin Luther expanded this year to include sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

The ribbon was cut for the new middle school on Thursday, September 29 on the revamped third floor of the Maspeth school building. Politicians, local business owners, parents, administrators and students were on hand to usher in the school’s new era.

“When so many parochial schools seem to be cutting back on programs, we’re trying to expand,” said Head of School Randal Gast. “The bricks and mortar of the future at Martin Luther as well as our community and our church [are the children].”

The school year kicked off for the 32 middle school students on September 7. While there are plans to expand in the coming years, Principal Barbara Chin-Sinn added that a smaller class size allows more one-on-one teaching time with each student.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley – both of whom have been incredibly supportive of the school, Gast said – spoke to the students about the opportunity they have at Martin Luther.

Crowley, whose brother and sister both attended the high school, said part of their success is due to the foundation they gained at Martin Luther.

“You’ll have even more of an advantage because you’re coming in at a younger age,” said Crowley. “You have a very unique opportunity.”

“At a time when schools are struggling to survive, here you are cutting the ribbon on an expansion at Martin Luther. That’s why you should really be proud today,” said Addabbo.

Chin-Sinn joined the Martin Luther staff after 25 years at St. John’s Lutheran School in Glendale. Chin-Sinn’s vision includes making sure each student is prepared for high school.

“Quality education is important,” she said. “Our teachers are very well-equipped.”

Each eighth grader will take the Regents exams in both Intermediate Algebra and Living Environment this June.

Academics is not the only benefit the students will be able to take advantage of. There are programs both before and after school for students, including band, basketball, volleyball, photography, chess and drama.

“It’s fun,” said sixth grader Sally of the extracurriculars. “There are lots of clubs to choose from.”

All the students are involved in some extracurricular activity, said Chin-Sinn.

The programs before school begin at 7 a.m., with extracurricular activities after school lasting from 2:45 until 6 p.m.

“I’m excited about the myriad of opportunities that are open for these children,” Chin-Sinn said.