Tag Archives: P.S. 150

Star of Queens: Christian Amez, Business Enterprise instructor, Woodside on the Move


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Amez

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Christian Amez has worked with Woodside on the Move for about five years, starting as an aide in the afterschool program. He ultimately created his own year-long class, the “Business Enterprise” program. It teaches children, in grades four and above, various financial literacy and math skills. From learning how to create a budget, to understanding credit and loans, these students ultimately create their own business plans and professionally pitch them to community leaders.

Woodside on the Move has served the Community Board 2 district for over 30 years, providing youth and cultural development programs all across Woodside and its surrounding neighborhoods.

BACKGROUND:  “I’m a first-generation American born in Queens. My family moved from Peru to Woodside, then finally Sunnyside,” said Amez. “Having grown up attending public schools in both neighborhoods (I.S. 125 and P.S. 150, respectively), the two are synonymous with home to me, so I spend a great deal of time getting to know my neighbors and participating in community outreach.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “My biggest challenge here had to be one I shared with Woodside on the Move, and that was our rally in May 2012 to restore funding for the afterschool and summer programs we host at P.S. 11 and 152,” said Amez.

During this time he said he had never seen so many students, parents, and community members engaged in what was a collective time of need.

FAVORITE MEMORY: The outpouring of support during the 2012 rally became Amez’s favorite memory at the organization.

“Soon after, due to the efforts of our executive director, Adrian Bordoni, all our staff, and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, we succeeded in temporarily restoring funding. In the following months, even more support came from Congressmember Joseph Crowley, who donated hundreds of school supplies for the children to prepare for their upcoming school year,” said Amez.

INSPIRATION: “I went through a very transformational time while studying finance. A lot of businessmen and women dream of becoming CEOs or billionaires, but why create one success story when you can create many,” asked Amez. That is what inspired him to work at Woodside on the Move, where the organization can improve the future of the city locally from the ground up, starting with the children.

 

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Outrage over fewer gifted and talented seats at Queens school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

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.