The Civic Scene: Queens high schools provide great learning experiences

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TimesLedger Newspapers reported June 4 there were more than 2,200 graduates from Queens College and 800 graduates from York College. These facts reflect the learning that took place in our Queens high schools. The graduation of more than 3,000 Queens residents from two of our colleges shows things are being done correctly. Let’s look at a few.

August Martin High School has a culinary arts academy with a restaurant called Cook’s Café. Recently, local legislators were invited to dine there as a way of thanking them for their funding. The students are learning cooking and management and service skills.

Benjamin Weinstock, 17, a student at the Queens High School of Teaching, has been honored for his volunteer service with a President’s Volunteer Service Award. He founded the school’s community service club, organized events such as a toy drive and created housewarming gifts for Habitat for Humanity families in New Orleans.

The Queens Vocational and Technical HS’s robotics team won the New York City FIRST competition. Schools all over the United States are given a box of parts, which have to be used to build a robot that can perform certain activities. The community came together to help raise the money needed to send the team to the finals in Atlanta.

Two 10th-graders at Grover Cleveland HS in Ridgewood, Derlis Gutierrez and Nestor Barrera, took first and second place in a bridge-building contest. The bridges were built out of basewood sticks and judged on efficiency. The bridges had to be light, but hold as much weight as possible.

Newtown HS held a gathering to celebrate diversity in the school. The students come from 100 different countries speaking 50 different languages. There were musical performances and celebrations by many groups in the school, which include Club Pink for girls, the Leaders of Tomorrow, the robotics team, the Spanish drama class, the girl’s choir and the classical guitar group.

The Health Occupations Students of America club at Hillcrest HS in Jamaica sent 16 students to a state competition in Syracuse, N.Y. The students took part in skill competitions, attended workshops and elected state HOSA officers. First-place winners were Shanae Johnson for pharmacology; Vasnessa Elliott for human growth and development with partner Ashley Valeus, who won for health career display; Nikelsha Parris and Olivia Winters for CPR/first aid; and Monika Seepaul for dental spelling.

John Bowne HS in Flushing has a chapter of the Future Farmers of America because it has a 3.8-acre farm behind. Students from the agricultural program work at the Queens County Farm Museum in Little Neck.

Jamaica HS recently held its fourth-annual cardboard boat race. Using physics principals, 17 teams of students built and raced cardboard boats. Teachers acted as advisers for the builders, but the students had to build the boats themselves. The students not only learned physics, but cooperation and communication and got to know staff members on a different level.

Fresh Meadows’ Francis Lewis HS JROTC drill team took first place in the armed competition held in Daytona, Fla. The group’s unarmed drill team won second place in the national competition.

The Future Business Leaders of America chapter at the Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship HS in Cambria Heights won 11 awards at the Spring Business meeting. The winners were Akin Kayode, impromptu speaking, first place; Eftheker Asad, decision making, first place); Andrew Sargeant, job interview, second place; Shelly Lekhraj, Ryan Higgens-Dodd and Andrew Parker, Parliamentary Team, first team; and Wesley Jacobs, Mr. FBLA, second place, and Battle of the Chapters, second place.

Another outstanding student from a small school is Chandraika Niranjan from the Math, Science & Technology HS in Cambria Heights. He is the valedictorian for the class of 2009 and president of the school chapter of Arista, volunteers at the YMCA on Hillside Avenue and tutors neighborhood children.

Oni Hinton is the senior class president of the Humanities and the Arts HS in Cambria Heights who is in Arista; took Advanced Placement college-level classes; took part in the school’s actors and winter showcases; participated in shoe, coat and canned food drives; is in the school College Summit program and Anti-Defamation League; and mentors children in Far Rockaway.

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