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The Civic Scene: Boro high school grads receive numerous awards

June is the time for graduations in the Queens high schools. Queens College and St. John’s University are two locations where thousands of high school students graduate as the school year ends; however, the big night for most high school graduates is the evening a few days prior to the graduation, when they receive innumerable certificates, plaques, trophies and pins for their accomplishments during their three or four years of high school.

All high schools must have an awards assembly or night so students can receive their recognition for their academic, community service or sports team achievements. Big high schools such as Hillcrest, Francis Lewis, Townsend Harris, Cardozo, Martin Van Buren and Thomas A. Edison Vocational & Technical have so many graduates receiving so many awards that if the school tried to give them out during the graduation the event could take four or more hours.

At the graduation the top students speak and are honored, and a guest speaker is present. All the graduates march to the stage in their caps and gowns and are recognized. It is a great event for the students, their parents and the staff of the school.

The awards assembly takes place in the school auditorium usually in the evening but sometimes in the afternoon. Since all the graduates do not receive awards, the school auditorium is an appropriate place for the ceremony. There may be a couple of hundred students receiving awards in a big high school so the booklet listing all the awards may be several pages long. Most schools also have a sports dinner where the athletes get together and have their individual sports accomplishments recognized by their coaches and teammates.

In Hillcrest High School the awards are listed by department. In addition to the regular academic subjects awards are given out by the Theatre Institute, Business Education, Technology Department and the Health Careers Department. The Health Careers Department has approximately 500 students. Some are state certified as practical nurses and EMT workers. Others graduate with training as dental and medical assistants.

This department has its own assembly where the graduating students, wearing the appropriately colored uniform designating their profession, receive individual awards and recognition. This means that some of these students have three end-of-the-year assemblies to attend at Hillcrest.

Thomas A. Edison Vocational & Technical High School’s senior class awards assembly lists all those receiving awards alphabetically on page after page. Students are honored for technological accomplishments such as in Cisco Internet working, electrical installation, participation in the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association Regional Competition 2003-2004, Microsoft Office specialist program, achievement in the A+ computer repair program, excellence in computer applications and C++ programing.

Martin Van Buren High School is another large school that honors many students. Unique awards are those for fashion design, fashion illustration, social studies research, science research, plant science, concert band, business virtual enterprise program and electronic information processing.

Francis Lewis is yet another large high school servicing the Fresh Meadows community. It awarded students in all of the usual academic and athletic fields, but it has some unique programs and accomplishments. There is a large Junior ROTC program, as well as programs pertaining to science and social sciences research, Jacob J. Javits Law Institute, university scholars and student organization activities.

Small schools such as the High School for Arts & Business in Corona awarded students for Virtual Enterprise Business accomplishments, as well as for their arts work and Spanish accomplishments as native, heritage and second language students.

The Business Campus Magnet High School in Cambria Heights is another small high school that provides many awards. The Virtual Enterprise students were honored and the DECA club rewarded those students who participated in business competitions all over the United States.

Another small high school is the Humanities and the Arts Magnet High School in Cambria Heights. Special awards went to the marching band students and those in the TV production program.

All Queens high schools give out awards of a similar nature. They are for 100 percent attendance, school service in various departments, cooperation in government, participation in the National Honor Society, AP college courses and from various local civic associations, legislators, the governor, the state attorney general, the chancellor, city council speaker, various religious groups, from fraternal groups.

In addition, students are awarded for community service, and receive such honors as the Principal’s Outstanding Academic Award, Mayoral Awards, Parent Association, UFT, CSA, Long Island Blood Drive Scholarship, Public Advocate Award, from the school yearbook, New York State Lottery, Regional Superintendent’s Award, Queens district attorney, congressional certificates, oratory awards and academic awards in each field of study and from various education associations.

Good and bad news of the week

So many thousands of Queens students graduate, many with special awards, but not all students graduate with their peers, even though some may need more than four years to graduate.

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