Tag Archives: turnaround schools

Students at saved Turnaround schools reflect on first day of classes


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

The first bell of the school year rang yesterday for a number of Queens high schools that were planned to lay dormant this year.

Seven schools slated for Turnaround started classes on Thursday, September 6 after a nearly year-long battle to stay open.

An arbitrator’s ruling to let all teachers keep their jobs and open the institutions this fall under their original names was upheld in State Supreme Court at the end of July. But the threat of closing by the state after this year, however, is still open if the schools don’t shape up.

Over at Long Island City High School, students lined up to review their course schedules before the start of the day.

Tenth graders Sohela Elgaramouni and Ouissal Elkharraz were happy to return to the school they knew and loved.

“We’re happy to see all our old teachers and most of the kids are still there,” said Elkharraz. “I don’t feel like a freshman again.”

But first-day jitters lingered long after dismissal for Flushing High School freshman Riana Painson.

Painson, 14, said she felt lost roaming around a new school and overwhelmed at having classrooms so far from one another.

“I felt lost, but I would have been more lost [if Turnaround happened],” Painson said.

Flushing senior Kassandra Marie said she was happy to walk into a school she was familiar with for three years, but already had one foot out the door.

“I’m used to Flushing High School already. I didn’t want to start all over again,” the 19 year old said. “But I just want to leave already, move on with my life and go to college.”

Magdalen Radovic is the current interim acting principal of Flushing High School, according to Department of Education spokesperson Marge Feinberg. But a C-30 process to find a permanent principal is in progress, she said.

Olga Perez stood outside of Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood near day’s end waiting for her granddaughter, junior Kayla Vargas, who had her first day there after transferring from a Manhattan high school.

Grover Cleveland was removed from the list of 26 city Turnaround schools hours before the Panel for Educational Policy voted to close them.

Perez’s children had gone to Grover Cleveland and she was relieved to hear the school would remain open when her granddaughter went to register.

Work still had to be done at the school, Perez said, referencing a high level of violence in the school. On the first day of school, though, she said things seemed quiet and would continue to.

“I was impressed by it,” she said. “I just hope it gets better and not worse.”

Other failed Turnaround high schools that opened its doors under the same staff and original names Thursday include Richmond Hill, Newtown, August Martin, Bryant and John Adams.

Additional reporting by Melissa Chan and Alexa Altman

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


EVENT of the DAY: 14th annual free summer concert at St. John’s University

This year the Queens Symphony Orchestra presents “La Traviata” at the 14th Annual St. John’s University Summer Concert. Wednesday, August 1, at 7 p.m. on the Queen’s Campus Great Lawn. No charge and no tickets are necessary, just bring your lawn chair or blanket and enjoy live opera under the stars, there’s no better way to spend a warm summer evening.

[Click here for more info] or to [submit an event of your own]

Neighbors say empty lot in Queens is a nuisance

Some residents of Whitestone, Queens, say that an undeveloped six-acre lot has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other creatures. The developer, Whitestone jewels, broke ground on the land about 4 years ago when they planned to build more than 50 homes. Read more: [Fox 5]

Queens homeowner says root of tree problem still exists

A huge, 100-year-old tree sits right outside Mickey Garnploog’s house in Woodside, Queens and he says it’s slowly but surely uprooting. Read More: [NY1]

Turnaround schools revert to old names

The city has retreated from part of its turnaround plan for 24 low-performing schools, telling principals the schools will keep their original names. A Department of Education letter to principals outlined the change in strategy regarding the names, and offered guidance on how to get the schools in shape before September. The schools affected include John Dewey High School in Brooklyn and Newtown High School in Queens, among others. [NY Times]

Queens’ new top architect

Derek Lee, the Buildings Department’s new Queens Borough Commissioner, started his second stint this earlier this month as the borough’s top architect. Lee, who oversees more than 15,000 blocks of houses, work sites and developments, said his top priority is safety. Read More: [NY Daily News]

Soccer’s worldwide popularity stretches to Queens

From the friendly pick-up games to a growing number of leagues and tournaments, soccer fever is high in Queens. It’s a summertime favorite for many immigrants, who play in the shadow of Citi Field and parks and playgrounds across the borough. Read More: [NY1]