"We have the most solid arts program in a non-specialized school in the city," Tarlo told around 50 parents of PS 41 students and future high schoolers gathered in the school's auditorium at 214-43 35th Ave. "I have every confidence that Bayside High School will continue to move in a positive direction."Though Bayside High School, located at 32-24 Corporal Kennedy St., boasts a strong music and arts program as well as a much-lauded science research program, it languishes in the shadow of the more prominent Cardozo High School and suffers a reputation for violence and low test scores. Tarlo said these issues, while common to many large city high schools, are blown out of proportion for Bayside."We don't have drug dealers, we don't have drug sales going on. There is no conflict other than conflict among typical groups that you find in most big schools," she said. The school is trying new initiatives that focus on developing students' relationships with teachers, Tarlo said, with both educational and developmental benefits."Some of the teenage responses to challenges are able to be worked out now that you have partnerships," she said. But Tarlo acknowledged that with 3,600 students enrolled at Bayside, and with Cardozo High School reporting overcrowded conditions as well, local parents need to prepare their children for the different environment at the area high schools."One of the important things you experience in an elementary school is the teachers get to know the students, and that's largely missing in traditional high schools," she said. "I wish I could get to know everybody's name."PS 41 PTA Co-President Caryl Stern-La Rosa channeled questions from the audience, touching on issues of student guidance and college preparation."We just hired two additional counselors, which makes seven for the general student body and one college adviser who is honestly spread very thin," Tarlo said, noting that some students gather college information on their own while others are less prepared to apply for a university spot. "We've been struggling with not enough guidance and development support staff," she acknowledged.Other parents were concerned that students from all over Queens are bused in to attend the school, including some who may not have benefitted from growing up in District 26, considered the city's best, and thus dilute Bayside High School's test scores and academic reputation."Busing in has a connotation that comes from a whole other era. Students are not bused in," Tarlo said. "What we have are programs that students apply to, and some are from Flushing, Corona, Jamaica. We are open to all the students in Queens." Tarlo added, "I don't feel like the thing to do is to become another Cardozo, but to become the strongest academic arts program we can be."Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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