Tag Archives: Springfield Gardens

Armed bandits in Springfield Gardens stickup linked to earlier robbery: cops


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video and photo courtesy of NYPD

Two armed robbers wanted for tying up employees at a Fresh Meadows RadioShack earlier this month are suspected of pulling off the same crime at a Springfield Gardens cellphone store on Tuesday, police said.

The pair, while wearing hoodies, walked into a Metro PCS located at 219-25 North Conduit Ave. at about 3:30 p.m. on July 28 and took out silver firearms, authorities said. They then took a 30-year-old female clerk and a 47-year-old male customer to the rear of the store, where they tied them up. The suspects then removed money from the cash register and several cellphones before fleeing on foot.

According to police, the same suspects walked into a RadioShack at a Fresh Meadows shopping center on July 10, where they also tied up the store’s employees at gunpoint.

After the suspects entered the 87-12 Horace Harding Expwy. store at about 10:25 a.m., one of them displayed a silver firearm while the second forcibly bound the two employees with duct tape and then removed about $400 and various electronics devices, authorities said. The suspects then fled.

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Police have released video from the most recent incident and photos from the RadioShack robbery. The perpetrators are described as black males, with the first suspect as about 40 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall and 170 pounds.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


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Stop & Shop to buy out Pathmark, Waldbaum’s supermarkets in Queens


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Updated, July 21, 2 p.m.

Stop & Shop is looking to grab six Queens supermarkets off the clearance rack.

The company announced Monday it is acquiring local Pathmark and Waldbaum’s supermarkets from the struggling Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P), which filed for bankruptcy. In all, Stop & Shop is purchasing 25 Pathmark, Waldbaum’s and A&P locations in the tri-state area from the grocery giant for $146 million. The deal is subject to court approval, but is expected to be finalized before the end of this calendar year.

On Sunday, A&P announced it was filing for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, its second such filing in five years, according to The Wall Street Journal. A&P reportedly racked up $2.3 billion in debts versus $1.6 billion in assets, according to its bankruptcy filing. Reportedly, the company lost $300 million between February 2014 and February 2015.

A Stop & Shop spokesperson said the acquired locations will remain open and become integrated into the national supermarket chain, and all of its employees would be retained.

“Stop & Shop is always looking for convenient locations to better serve our customers,” said Don Sussman, president of the company’s New York Metro Division. “We are very happy to have the opportunity to expand our presence in greater New York and serve new customers.”

Stop & Shop currently has five locations in Queens, including on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale; on Union Turnpike on the Glendale/Forest Hills border; on Northern Boulevard in Little Neck; and on 48th Street in Long Island City.

The chain will more than double its presence in the “World’s Borough” with the addition of three Waldbaum’s stores on 26th Avenue in Bayside, Beach Channel Drive in Belle Harbor and Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, as well as three Pathmark locations on Farrington Street in Flushing, Atlantic Avenue in Ozone Park and Springfield Boulevard in Springfield Gardens.

The 19 other Waldbaum’s and Pathmark locations that Stop & Shop purchased are in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, Staten Island, Brooklyn, the Bronx and New Jersey.

The 25 stores Stop & Shop acquired represent about 10 percent of A&P’s 296 stores nationwide. As part of the bankruptcy filing, A&P put up 120 supermarkets for sale at a combined $600 million, which will be tested at an upcoming auction. The company is closing 25 other locations immediately; none of those stores are in Queens.

Stop & Shop has 395 stores from New Jersey to Massachusetts employing over 59,000 workers.

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Pedestrian fatally struck by car on Belt Parkway


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

AmbulanceInMotionHC0507_L_300_C_Y-624x4161

A pedestrian walking on the Belt Parkway in Springfield Gardens was hit and killed by a car Saturday morning, according to police.

The accident occurred just after 2 a.m. near Exit 22 (Springfield Boulevard).

According to authorities, the unidentified adult male was walking along the eastbound parkway adjacent to the south side of the concrete median divider when he was struck by a 2003 Nissan Sentra driven by a 21-year-old woman.

Officers from the 105th Precinct found the man lying on the roadway unconscious and unresponsive, with trauma about the body. EMS responding to the scene pronounced him dead at the scene.

No arrests were made and the investigation is ongoing.

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Bank robber strikes twice in Springfield Gardens


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

He lost one, he won one.

A bank robber had mixed results in two bank robbery attempts in Springfield Gardens on Friday afternoon, police said, failing to get cash from one branch but succeeding at another location a short time later.

Reportedly, the first attempted heist occurred at 3:39 p.m. inside the Bank of America located at 216-02 Merrick Blvd.

Police said the perpetrator approached a teller and handed over a demand note. He then fled the scene after the employee refused to comply with the request.

About a half-hour later, authorities said, the same crook walked into the Chase bank located at 231-02 Merrick Blvd. at about 4:10 p.m. and again passed a demand note to the teller.

Reportedly, he also motioned to his waist and threatened to shoot if the teller did not comply with his demand. Police said no weapons were displayed.

Authorities said the employee handed over $1,191 in cash to the bandit, who then fled in an unknown direction.

Both robberies were reported to the 105th Precinct; there were no injuries.

The NYPD describes the suspect as a clean-shaven black male between 30 and 40 years of age, standing 5 foot 9 inches tall who was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and a black baseball hat with the letters “NY” written on the front. Police said he wore sunglasses during the first robbery attempt.

Anyone with information regarding the heist attempts or the suspect’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter the code TIP577. All calls and messages will be kept confidential.

 

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Former governor inspires Merrick Academy graduates in Springfield Gardens


| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

After lining up to receive their diplomas, Merrick Academy graduates in Springfield Gardens received some advice from the ceremony’s commencement speaker, former Governor David A. Paterson.

Paterson, who was the first African-American and legally blind governor of New York, spoke about the hardships he faced in school and throughout his life. His parents moved to Hempstead when Paterson was a child to avoid New York City public schools, where he would have been placed in special education classes because of his impairment.

After graduating from high school a year early, Paterson attended Columbia University. It was during college where he faced one of his biggest challenges, he said.

“Something happened to me in my second year of my college life that almost ended any chance of me ever having any career,” Paterson said. During the summer of his sophomore year, he attended a barbecue and was asked by the host to come up with a list of 15 people who could work at a catering service, bagging lunches for children going to day camp. Paterson included his name on the list but was not hired because of his impairment.

“He did not think that I could put an apple and a sandwich in a lunchbox and close it,” Paterson said.

His underage brother was also hired, which upset Paterson even further. The former governor said that when he went back to school he was too upset to study and was in danger of failing out of school. Paterson went back to Hempstead to speak to an old teacher and she encouraged him to take a break from school and find a job to boost his confidence. He went back to school a year later and graduated with a degree in history.

In an interview with The Courier, Paterson said he spoke about his struggles to make his message relatable to all students.

“Hopefully, they won’t think of me in the best of times because they don’t need me in the best of times. They need my words when things are not going well,” he said.

Graduate Enola Fasola, who wants to be a video game designer when he grows up, said he learned about perseverance during Paterson’s speech.

“I learned that if something happens to you, you can always rise back up,” Fasola said.

Principal Dr. Karen Valbrun said seeing her students graduate was a proud moment for her, and that she is excited to find out what they accomplish in the future.

“My message to them is no matter what disability, no matter what challenge stands in front of you, if you want to accomplish something, nothing should stand in your way,” Valbrun said. “To hold such a high position, in spite of what the media may say about black students especially in terms of being disadvantaged or fatherless homes or whatever other negative perceptions that may lie out there, they can still achieve.”

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Former New York Knick Anthony Mason honored by Merrick Academy in Springfield Gardens


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

Merrick Academy in Springfield Gardens honored New York Knicks star and Queens native Anthony Mason by dedicating its basketball court in his memory on May 20.

The court will now forever be known as “Mason’s Court.”

Mason was born and raised in Springfield Gardens before making it to the NBA to play for his hometown team, the New York Knicks. Earlier this year, Mason died of a heart attack at the age of 48.

Before Merrick Academy became Queens’ first charter school, the gymnasium belonged to a church in the neighborhood where Mason spent his youth shooting hoops.

“Anthony Mason was a member of this community, and it’s wonderful to be a part of some communities that are producing great people who have achieved a lot in life,” said Gerald Karikari, chairman of the board of trustees for Merrick Academy. “While he was taken away from us too soon, we want to honor his spirit because we want you to know that if you play basketball on this court, you too can do anything you want.”

Mason’s family and former teammate on the Knicks, John Starks, were present at the ceremony to honor Mason’s memory.

“This is only fitting that this court will be named after him, in this community,” Starks said. “Anthony came from this same community that a lot of you guys come from and he learned, just like you guys learn. And he was able to reach his goals and his dreams through school,” Starks told the students in the gym.

Mason’s son, Anthony Mason Jr., spoke to the children about his father and following their dreams.

“When you come in here and you see this gym, and you see Anthony Mason’s name, let it inspire you,” Mason Jr. said. “So when you see that name, know that your dreams will come true, and can come true, through hard work and being dedicated.”

After the ceremony, both of Anthony Mason’s sons, Anthony Jr. and Antoine, took the ceremonial first shots on the court, followed by some shooting by Starks and the children who were in the gymnasium.

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Participatory budget results announced for District 31


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Donovan Richard's Office

BY ANGELA MATUA

Councilman Donovan Richards announced last week the winners of the participatory budget process for District 31.

More than 2,000 Rosedale, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens residents voted in this year’s budget process and found out exactly where their tax dollars would be going on Wednesday, May 13.

Richards, along with Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, tweaked the process by launching early voting, lowering the voting age to 14 and introducing the first electronic ballots in the history of participatory budgeting in New York City.

The most votes went to Springfield Gardens Education Complex (1,614 votes) to provide $525,000 for a sound and projection system to be installed in the auditorium.

Lilly Lucas, president of Excelsior Preparatory High school, which is housed inside the complex, said the upgrades are a blessing. Lucas, who graduated in the ’60s from the high school, previously named Springfield Gardens High School, said nothing in the auditorium had been upgraded since she was a student.

“I’ll put it to you this way: those curtains that are in the auditorium are the same curtains that I had when I was a student here,” Lucas said. “We have to do a lot of compromising when we have events, which are many since there are four schools here. It’s such a wonderful blessing.”

Lucas said the process of participatory budgeting was exciting this year because many children who attend one of the four schools were eligible to vote.

The students of I.S. 231 will hone their musical abilities with a new $300,000 music studio after 1,031 residents voted for the project.

The last project to be funded with 945 votes was the installation of reading and chess areas in Brookville Park in Rosedale and Springfield Park in Springfield Gardens.

“I want to thank everyone involved in making this year such a success, especially the students and faculty of our local schools,” Richards said. “I strongly believe that as we continue to bring this more direct form of democracy to our neighborhoods. It is crucial we engage our youth in the political process and prepare them to be the future leaders our city needs and deserves.”

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Bandits wanted for towing away air pumps from Queens gas stations


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are searching for the airheads who stole self-serve air pump machines from 17 gas stations in Queens and Brooklyn since December.

In each caper the suspects used a hook and chain attached to a vehicle to yank the coin-operated devices from their pedestals, authorities said. Each of the air pumps contained hundreds of dollars in quarters and police believe the crooks got away with more than $40,000 in change combined.

A dozen of the thefts occurred in Queens, and security cameras captured one of the incidents which occurred at 6:35 p.m. on March 21 at the Sunoco gas station located at 128-24 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park.


Two men, described as white or Hispanic, were spotted in the video. Police said one of them, who was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans, was observed operating a blue Honda Accord.

The other Queens air pump thefts are as follows:

  • At 4 p.m. on Dec. 29, the crooks removed an air pump containing $800 in change from the Citgo gas station located at 91-02 South Conduit Ave. in Ozone Park. They returned to the location on March 1 at 3 p.m. and stole the replacement air pump, valued at $1,000.
  • On Dec. 30, at about 10 p.m., the bandits stole an air pump containing $200 from the Getty gas station at 70-21 73rd Pl. in Glendale.
  • At 8 p.m. on Jan. 12, the suspects removed an air compressor valued at $2,500 from the BP gas station at 130-11 North Conduit Ave. in South Ozone Park. They returned twice more to this location — at 9 p.m. on Jan. 28 and again at 10 p.m. on April 1 — and removed the replacement air compressors.
  • On Jan. 13, at about 6:59 p.m., the crooks removed an air pump valued at $2,000 from the Sunoco gas station at 162-35 North Conduit Ave. in Springfield Gardens.
  • At 12:20 a.m. on March 8, the bandits removed the air pump from the Global gas station at 49-25 Van Dam St. in Long Island City.
  • That same morning, at 2 a.m., the crooks yanked away the air pump machine from the Exxon gas station at 59-51 Long Island Expwy. in Long Island City.
  • At 8:26 p.m. on March 16, the suspects removed the air pump machine from the BP gas station located at 100-07 Rockaway Blvd. in Ozone Park.
  • At 9:26 p.m. on March 20, the perpetrators removed an unknown amount of change from the vacuum air machine at the Eagle service center located at 49-05 Astoria Blvd. in Astoria.

Among the five Brooklyn locations in the pattern was the Exxon GPN Boulevard gas station at 1193 Myrtle Ave. in Bushwick. The crooks removed the station’s air pump machine, valued at $700, at 9:08 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 2.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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What cemeteries are most popular for Queens homebuyers


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

File photo

Not just the deceased are dying to be around All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village.

Although it may not be as attractive a view as the New York City skyline, All Faiths was the Queens cemetery with the most nearby home sales over a two-year period, with 103 residences sold, according to an analysis from real estate website PropertyShark. That number is double that of the runner-up, Mount Lebanon Cemetery in Glendale, which had just 48.

While Queens is well known for having an abundance of cemeteries throughout the borough, about a quarter of homebuyers who chose to purchase near the dead bought homes close to All Faiths.

There were approximately 377 sales of one- and two-family homes within 300 feet of a cemetery in the top ten list recorded since January 2013 to March 2015, according to the data.

Completing the top ten is Linden Hill Cemetery in Ridgewood, where only 13 homes sold over the two-year span.

Queens_cemeteries stat boxAlso interesting to note, Flushing Cemetery recorded the most expensive sales with average prices at nearly $630,000.

Not surprisingly, the Springfield Cemetery in Springfield Gardens had the least expensive home sales with an average of about $329,000.

The spirits probably aren’t behind the low prices for those homes, because in 2014 Springfield Gardens as a whole had median asking prices at around $343,500 and had the lowest absorption rate, a metric showing rate of sales by calculating what share of home listings either went into contract or were removed.

Click here to see a map of the properties that were sold around cemeteries in the borough over the past two years.

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Springfield Gardens Girl Scout is city’s top cookie seller for second year


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of DeAnne Lorde

She truly is the queen of cookie sales.

Springfield Gardens eighth-grader Najah Lorde is once again the top Girl Scout cookie seller in New York City with 1,816 boxes.

Last year, the now-13-year-old more than doubled her sales from the previous year, earning the cookie crown for the first time.

Najah was already aiming for another win shortly after the first one.

But when she found out she was the number one seller for a second time — beating out 10-year-old Brooklyn resident Danielle Bioh, who sold 1,782 boxes, and Manhattan’s Madeleine Noveck, an 8-year-old Brownie who sold 1,728 boxes — the news came as a shock.

Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of the USA

Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of the USA

“I was really busy during the Girl Scout cookie season so I didn’t get to sell as much as last year,” she said. “I was grateful and thankful that I was still able to be the top Girl Scout cookie seller.”

Najah’s mother, DeAnne Lorde, was also surprised Najah took the top spot after selling 2,833 boxes the previous year. Unlike last cookie selling season, she said her daughter was preoccupied with high school prep, including exams and applications, while keeping up with her grades.

“She didn’t have the time to put in the amount of effort that she really wanted to,” she said.

But Najah, using both new and old strategies, still sold an impressive amount of the sweet treats.

The Troop 4287 member again used the networking skills normally seen in a much older person, taking contacts from her parents’ phones and asking her customers to reach out to others.

“My favorite part [of selling] is learning all the skills like time management, organization and keeping track of money,” Najah said.

During the selling period — from the second week of December to late January — she sold cookies at her school, Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy in Douglaston; her church, the Greater Allen Cathedral of New York; and her parents’ workplace, SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

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Najah Lorde surrounded by boxes of cookies in the U-Haul truck her family had to rent to pick up her cookies after she became the top seller for the first time last year. (THE COURIER/File photo)

She also decided to try a new selling method this year — social media.

Najah posted an image of her sales sheet on her father’s Facebook page as a way to find more customers.

This year was also the first time in the nearly 100-year history of the cookie program that Girl Scouts got to sell the baked goods online through their own digital stores. The three top sellers all had significantly higher-than-average digital cookie sales, according to the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. With the help of the new online sales tool, the city’s Girl Scouts sold 1,084,526 boxes this year, up from 998,580 boxes the previous year.

“The focus of the cookie program is on teaching girls leadership and business skills in a fun setting that also builds courage and character,” said Girl Scouts of Greater New York CEO Barbara Murphy-Warrington. “Setting goals and developing a sales strategy, making independent decisions, managing money, learning to communicate well with people, understanding business ethics — these are all skills our girls acquire that will serve them well throughout their lives.”

In addition to being named the number one seller, Najah, along with each Girl Scout who sold more than 1,000 boxes, received all the prizes offered, including an iPad Air.

“I’m not sure about next year. I’ll just have to wait and see what’s going to happen,” Najah said about taking the top spot for a third time in a row.

Her mother says high school could get in the way of her cookie selling, but they are ready to “follow her lead.”

“We are ready to take on whatever she is ready to take on.”

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City seeking developer for seven-acre plot near JFK


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo via NYCEDC JFK North RFEI

A seven-acre vacant piece of land near John F. Kennedy Airport could be the future home of a new office or industrial complex as the city Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is seeking investors interested in the site.

The city agency released a request for expressions of interest (RFEI), first spotted by the Commercial Observer, for developers looking to purchase or lease the land and then redevelop the site, which is located in Springfield Gardens.

The land is bounded to the north by Rockaway Boulevard, to the south by the Nassau Expressway and to the west the Federal Aviation Administration office building.

Although the city has been recently releasing information for many Queens sites for more housing opportunities, such as Sunnyside Yards or vacant plots in Jamaica, to meet Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing goals, the EDC isn’t hiding the fact that this particular site should be for commercial or industrial uses.

“The project offers a unique opportunity to develop a commercial and/or industrial building on a very large vacant parcel adjacent to the airport,” the NYCEDC said. “Given the site’s [seven-acre] size, respondents have the opportunity to create a modern campus plan with industrial and/or commercial programming that supports job-intensive uses and attracts both established and growing businesses.”

As a residential community, Springfield Gardens, where planes fly over residents’ heads non-stop, has suffered from airplane noise. The area even had the borough’s worst housing selling rate in 2014.

But being so close to the major international gateway, Springfield Gardens contains one of the air cargo industry’s largest concentrations of custom brokers, freight forwarders, and numerous other airport-related industrial facilities, according to the RFEI, meaning the possible new complex could continue to expand the booming industry already in place.

Developers have until May 4 to send proposals for the site.

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These five Queens neighborhoods were the borough’s hardest places to sell houses in 2014


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of StreetEasy

2014 was a great year for Queens real estate.

More than $3.6 billion was spent on investment properties, according to a recent report, and in the final quarter of the year, the borough saw strong home sales.

However, for a variety of reasons, such as price points and disinterest in the area or homes, some Queens neighborhoods lagged far behind the borough’s selling rate.

The biggest loser for 2014 is Springfield Gardens, which had a 55 percent absorption rate, a metric showing rate of sales by calculating what share of home listings either went into contract or were removed, according to data compiled by real estate website StreetEasy. Meanwhile the borough’s selling rate increased from 74 percent in 2013 to 82 percent in 2014.

Springfield Gardens, is a mostly residential neighborhood in south Queens without a major downtown or transportation hub. It is bounded by John F. Kennedy Airport to the south, and residents have had to deal with low flying planes passing directly above their homes.

StreetEasy data scientist Alan Lightfeldt explained that there could be a variety of explanations for why homes don’t sell as quickly in some areas.

“There are a number of reasons why inventory does not move, but they can generally be grouped into two categories: price and quality,” Lightfeldt said. “The home may be in disrepair, requiring a lot of investment from a buyer. Or, the price just isn’t generating offers for the seller.”

Chart courtesy of StreetEasy

Chart courtesy of StreetEasy

Ridgewood, which is seeing rising demand and soaring prices in the rental market, took second place when it comes to lowest house sales.

Maspeth, St. Albans and Far Rockaway round up the bottom five.

The good news is that even the neighborhoods at the bottom are improving in sales. For example, St. Albans ranked fourth in the borough in both 2014 and 2013, but median prices are rising and the selling rate is improving, according to the research.

“Even the slowest moving Queens neighborhoods saw a higher absorption rate in 2014,” Lightfeldt said. “This is a sign that fewer Queens listings are falling by the wayside and buyers are snatching them up.”

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Merrick Academy gets renewed five-year lease


| slicata@queenscourier.com

merrick_Academy

Giving parents an educational option within a neighborhood that deals with economic challenges is vital to the success of the children living there, said Staci White, chief of operations at Merrick Academy, which recently received a new five-year lease with the city.

But at Merrick Academy, the school’s leaders and staff pride themselves on providing more than just an option to families — they want to be known as the best charter school in Queens.
On the heels of the academy’s new five-year lease, Dr. Karen Valburn, principal of the school, created a new motto for staff and students: “Proficiency and Beyond.” She said that doing just enough to get by doesn’t show success; instead, students should strive toward greatness.

“We don’t want to just prepare our children for the next grade level,” Valburn said. “We want them to go beyond that.”

The Springfield Gardens school, located at 136-25 218th St., has been in operation since 2000. It was the first charter school to come to Queens, providing instruction for students from kindergarten through sixth grade. The school just renewed a lease that will keep it going until 2020.

Valburn has worked in public education for most of her life, but this is her first year in a charter school. She said that being part of the charter school program has been a great experience because the opportunities for growth and creativity are unmatched elsewhere.

“There are no bounds by rigid district rules,” said Valburn. “We can do a lot of different things outside of school and run many different interactive programs we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.”

Some of these programs include instruction in fine and performing arts, often lacking at other public schools. Third-graders are learning how to sculpt and create still life studies as part of “Studio in School.” Fourth-graders are working with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

After completing the 17-week dance program, the students will put on a performance for the rest of the school. Fifth- and sixth-graders, meanwhile, are taking classes with the Metropolitan Opera. Not only will they get to perform an opera for their schoolmates, they’ll get to see an opera firsthand.

Valburn said the children enjoy the classes, adding that she has seen positive growth with their testing and overall performance. She was excited that because of the new lease for the school, she will be able to expand the system of learning at Merrick Academy and continue to reach their goal of preparing students to go beyond the minimum standards for proficiency.

“We want to regain our status as being one of the most competitive educational institutes in our neighboring charter schools and district,” she noted. “This is 21st-century learning, where we push our students to be leaders of their learning.”

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Springfield Gardens father massacres his own family, killing three and wounding one before taking his own life


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Updated Monday, Jan. 26, 9:44 a.m.

A Springfield Gardens man inexplicably massacred his own family early Saturday morning when he methodically shot his two daughters, their mother and their grandmother, leaving three dead and a 12-year-old girl fighting for her life, police said.

The gunman, Jonathan Walker, 34, fled the blood-splattered home he shared with his family in his GMC Arcadia, prompting an NYPD manhunt that ended five hours later when police discovered him dead behind the wheel of his vehicle, where he took his own life.

Officers found the four victims inside their home on 148th Avenue near 231st Street at about 5:40 a.m. All of them had been shot in the head, cops said. They were called to the scene by Walker’s 12-year-old daughter, who phoned 911 despite having a gunshot wound to her head, according to published reports.

Viola Warren, 62, her daughter, Shantai Hale, 31, and Hale’s daughter, 7-year-old Kayla Walker, were pronounced dead at the scene. The 12-year-old girl, Christina Walker, also Hale’s daughter, was taken to Long Island Jewish Medical Center in critical condition. She is now in a medically induced coma, reports said.

Police say that Walker, the girls’ father and Hale’s common-law husband, shot the four and then escaped their home in his car.

Sources told the New York Post that Walker believed his longtime partner had been unfaithful and shot his daughters because he didn’t want them to end up in foster care after the attack.

Walker was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head about five hours later inside his vehicle in a wooded area just south of the Belt Parkway near the Lefferts Boulevard exit, cops said. A .45-caliber gun was recovered.

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Two killed, teen injured in Belt Parkway ramp crash


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

ambulance

Updated 2:49 p.m.

Two young men were killed and a 14-year-old was hurt Thursday night after their car lost control near the Belt Parkway before slamming into a pole and then a tree, authorities said.

The vehicle, a Mitsubishi Lancer, was apparently speeding westbound on North Conduit Avenue in Springfield Gardens at about 10:45 p.m. when it swerved to overtake another vehicle, according to police. It then tried to swerve back into the left lane and enter the entrance ramp to the Belt Parkway near 181st Street.

The Mitsubishi lost control, drove onto the grass shoulder, striking a light pole and then a tree, cops said.

The driver, 20-year-old D’John Arias, of Corona, was pronounced dead at the scene. His front seat passenger, 19-year-old Karim Carter, of Jamaica, was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased, authorities said.

A 14-year-old boy suffered injuries to his legs and was transported to Long Island Jewish Hospital, where he is listed in stable condition.

The NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad is looking into the crash.

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