Tag Archives: P.S. 122

Op-ed: First grade tips


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ISABELLA TAXILAGA

Biography:

My name is Isabella Taxilaga and I am in the first grade at P.S. 122 in Astoria.

My favorite things to do are reading, writing and drawing. I love to write poems, songs and stories about my family and what I feel. I really love doing this job and I’m very happy and proud to write for everybody. Anyone can write as much as they want and become really good — I did that, too.
Writing makes me really happy, I hope it makes you feel wonderful, too!

If you are in first grade and you need some help, read my list of helpful tips:

1. When you have a math test, make sure to work a little bit slower because you don’t want to skip a lot of pages or questions. You should look at the page clearly and then you can get a few or all the answers right.

2. When you are cleaning out your desk every week or putting your supplies away on the first day of school, keep it neat and organized so you could find what you are looking for easily and fast. This one is really important, especially when you need a book.

3. When your teacher calls you to the meeting area make sure you go to the bathroom before. You should go when you are in the middle of working or when the class is busy working on something else. When you are at the meeting area it’s the worst time to go because when you come back you will not know what to do. You will miss something important that the teacher said. This one is important, too!

It is almost the end of my year in first grade, and it has been great! So these are the tips that I learned. You might feel nervous sometimes, but you can have a great year, too! If you are in first grade or you are going into first grade next year (like my brother), I wish you the best and I hope you find these tips helpful. So smile and have a good year!

Isabella was the grand prize winner of The Be Kind People Project’s national student writing contest.

Call for submissions:

The Courier welcomes submissions from the public — of all ages and walks of life — for the Op-Ed column. We hope to publish as many as possible in this space. Please send opinion pieces of 300 to 600 words (remembering, of course, that brevity is the soul of wit) to editorial@queenscourier.com. Be sure to include contact information; we will need pictures of the writers we publish.

 

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Astoria school honored for high state test scores


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr.

Although P.S. 122 in Astoria was facing big changes a few months ago from the Department of Education, the students showed they can excel beyond the average city scores.

On August 13, Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. celebrated students, teachers and Principal Pamela Sabel for their hard work in earning high scores on the new state standardized tests.

The students scored 71 percent at or above proficient in math and 69.7 percent at or above in English Language Arts (ELA). P.S. 122 accomplished scores close to 40 percent more than both the city and state scores.

Vallone also presented Sabel with a city council citation in recognition of the school’s success.

 

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Schools Chancellor Walcott meets with parents over gifted and talented cuts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ana Musmat Alam

True to his word, Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor Dennis Walcott met with parents, teachers and elected officials from across School District 30 to talk about the proposed cuts to the prestigious gifted and talented program at P.S. 122.

“When families have a great experience in their school, we celebrate that and we appreciate the thoughtful way that parents at P.S. 122 approached this proposal,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia.

The meeting came after the concerned and outraged community members confronted Walcott at a Panel for Education Policy in Brooklyn on March 20, where he agreed to meet with them at a later date.

For over a month, the members have been getting together to speak out against the DOE’s plans to extend P.S. 122’s general education classes from fifth to eighth grade at the expense of fewer classes for the gifted and talented middle school program, The Academy.

“We are feeling optimistic that the DOE has heard that the District 30 community has not asked for and does not want a change to our balances and harmonious district structure,” said Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent. “At the end of it, we feel like we could not have laid our case out any better. Logic should dictate what they do now.”

According to Alexander, although Walcott did not say much at the meeting, he was apologetic in not contacting the community earlier, applauded the community’s advocacy and said he would get back to them within a week with some answers.

“The Chancellor listens – he did that at his meeting with P.S. 122 parents, as he does with school communities across the city. We will incorporate the feedback we received, and will ultimately make a decision that best balances equity and excellence for students in this district,” said Puglia.

Alexander hopes a decision will be made by April 17, when parents have to submit their ranking for gifted and talented schools for their children.

“Fix the rule, don’t fix the school,” said Alexander.

 

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Schools Chancellor Walcott to meet with parents over gifted and talented cuts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Isaac Carmignani

After weeks protesting proposed cuts to the gifted and talented program at P.S. 122, the voices of the parents in District 30 have finally been heard by Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The parents, along with other concerned and outraged school and community members, confronted Walcott at a Panel for Education Policy meeting in Brooklyn on Wednesday night, March 20, where the chancellor agreed to meet with them at a later date to go over the changes.

“We are feeling cautiously optimistic, given the chancellor’s previous thoughtful interactions with parents from District 30,” said Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent whose son, Augustus, is set to attend the prestigious program in middle school. “A united community can really make a change.”

The group of District 30 parents has been getting together for over a month to speak against the Department of Education’s (DOE) plans to extend P.S. 122’s general education classes from the fifth to eighth grade, cutting down classes at the gifted and talented middle school program, The Academy.

“It’s just the first step, but we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished and thrilled that the chancellor listened and heard us,” said Alexander.

In order to extend P.S. 122 into the eighth grade, by 2019 there will be room for only one class per grade in The Academy, down from the three to four classes offered now. These changes would go into effect in 2019 and would begin with this fall’s incoming kindergarten class.

The DOE has stated that the changes are required in order to allow each student the chance to stay in the same K-8 until they finish middle school.

The meeting between parents and the chancellor was confirmed by DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia, yet no date has been set.

“Chancellor Walcott and his team are very responsive and listen closely to feedback from families. We look forward to meeting with this community once again and articulating our rationale for this plan: equity and fairness for all students,” said Puglia in a statement.

Yet, worried the meeting will not bring negotiations, as the parents wait for the date to be announced they will be filing a petition with the State Education Commissioner.

“The day we can withdraw that petition because the DOE has heard the unified voice of District 30 will be a joyful day,” said Alexander.

 

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Outrage over fewer gifted and talented seats at Queens school


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Photo courtesy of Deborah Alexander

As her son Augustus began kindergarten in the city’s gifted and talented program at Sunnyside’s P.S. 150, Deborah Alexander was excited at the thought he would eventually be enrolling in the prestigious middle school program known as The Academy at P.S.122 in Astoria.

Yet the excitement turned to concern as the Department of Education revealed its plan last week to cut down the number of classes at The Academy in order to expand P.S. 122’s general education population into the eighth grade.

“Tearing down a middle school program that was ranked number two in the state makes no sense,” said Alexander, who also has a two-year-old daughter zoned for P.S. 122.

Other outraged parents met with members of the DOE last Thursday night at P.S. 234 to voice their concerns. Although the parents hoped to get answers that night, they were left with more questions.

“They were treating us not even how we treat our children, it was insulting,” said Alexander who couldn’t hold back tears at the meeting. “I asked for a raise of hands of who was in support and not a single hand was raised.”

This announcement comes a month after the DOE unveiled a new gifted middle school that will open in fall 2013 at Long Island City’s I.S. 126 with seats for 60 students. Yet because of the cuts, students from P.S. 150, P.S. 166 in Long Island City and P.S. 217 in Roosevelt Island will all be competing for the 60 seats.

“They tried to say ‘look at what we gave you,’ but instead of adding the seats we asked for, they reduced them,” said Alexander.

The DOE has responded by telling parents that according to the DOE’s Chancellor’s Regulations, P.S. 122 is supposed to be a K-8 building, and rules have not been followed.

“It’s the department disrespecting the community. They went off and pissed off a community that was really, really happy,” said Isaac Carmignani, co-president of the District 30 Community Education Council.

According to Carmignani, this change will extend to all classes at P.S. 122 through eighth grade starting with this year’s incoming kindergarten. By 2019, there will only be room for one class per grade in The Academy, down from the three to four classes offered now.

Parents are afraid the expansion will overcrowd the school, create more lunch periods starting at 9 a.m., and cut science and math programs. They also worry the remaining classes at The Academy will go down in quality as fewer classes are offered.

“They are taking a school that is a model and destroying it in the process,” said Alexander. “This concern is for the community and the district as a whole, not just one school or population.”

Local politicians joined parents in opposition of cutting down classes at The Academy. “The problem is that they are going to be cutting the overall amount of G&T seats and that’s completely unacceptable,” said Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. “Even with additional classes in other locations the seats in total have been cut down.”

Before any drastic changes take place, the community hopes to be able to work out an agreement with the DOE to keep the gifted and talented seats either at P.S. 122 or at another school.

“We as parents would love to work with the DOE to create a program to allow our students to receive the appropriate education for their personal learning needs,” said Karen Schumacher, whose daughter Magie is a first grader in the program at P.S. 150. “Let’s add, let’s expand, let’s not destroy.”

 

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Parents fume over dwindling gifted and talented program


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Expanding demand and dwindling supply of middle school gifted and talented seats in Long Island City have parents fuming over the possibility of their children getting dropped from the program.

Kids from P.S. 122 and P.S. 150 were previously promised seats through 8th grade, filtering into the middle school program at P.S. 122. In line with new gifted and talented programs across the city, the proposal for District 30 aims to increase the number of seats in the district by forcing students to retest after elementary school to determine if they should remain in the accelerated class.

“It’s not fair to just tell parents ‘OK well you’re going to have to retest in 5th grade and make all these kids compete with one another,’” said Isaac Carmignani, co-president of Community District Education Council 30. “That wasn’t what they were promised.”

According to a spokesperson from the Department of Education (DOE), the switch is to create a more equitable admissions process by allowing students who may not have performed well on the kindergarten exam to have a second chance in fifth grade.

The spokesperson said the number of gifted and talented students in District 30 is relatively small compared to other districts.

School District 30 currently has approximately 120 seats per grade for gifted and talented students. The new program, according to the DOE, will add 60 new seats.

“As with any competitive admissions process, the highest scoring students would have priority for placement in these programs,” said the DOE spokesperson. “Students would be placed in descending order based on the admissions criteria established for the program.”

Carmignani said parents fear that if their kids are removed from a gifted and talented program, they won’t be admitted into a top city high school and possibly a stellar college.

Melissa Lee, the parent of a kindergartner and a first grader in P.S. 166’s gifted and talented program, believes the DOE needs to provide a seat for every eligible student, regardless of when they apply for the program. Lee added that 40 percent of the gifted and talented students in the district are from ethnic minorities, something the city agency should give high importance to giving the recent reports illustrating that enrollment for minority students at top high schools is incredibly low.

“If the DOE is really trying to recruit more of these kids, why not nurture it now?” said Lee.