City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott took a victory lap around the Queens High School for the Sciences at York College Monday morning after the Jamaica school was recognized as one of the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report last week.
“This is good news and we want to sing about it,” Walcott said as he toured several classrooms early in the morning with Principal David Marmor.
Citing near-perfect proficiency levels on math and English exams, the magazine awarded the school a gold medal, ranking it the fourth best in the city, seventh best in the state and 52nd best in the nation, out of nearly 22,000 evaluated.
Some 87 percent of the school’s 415 students, 90 percent of whom are minorities, graduate college-ready, according to the report.
On state English Regents Exams, 99 percent of students tested proficient — a figure that was bested by students on Math Regents Exams with 100 percent testing proficient.
The school, at 94-50 159th St., is a specialized high school that requires applicants to take an entrance exam and draws students from across the city.
It outranked prestigious high schools such as Stuyvesant in Manhattan and Bronx Science, although Marmor said it was still a struggle to compete with those schools when attracting the city’s brightest.
“I’m trying my best to make us more well-known, he said.
Assistant Principal Lenneen Gibson, who worked as a teacher when the school opened 10 years ago, credited the school’s recognition to its “rigorous curriculum,” with most students taking college-level and AP classes. U.S. News & World Report cited the AP participation rate at 97 percent.
As he popped in and out of early morning classrooms, Walcott said he observed “great leadership, committed teachers and students who are engaged and expressing themselves.”
Teacher Pamela Aucoin was a bit surprised when the city Department of Education head stepped into her 10th-grade history classroom as she and her pupils discussed the causes leading up to China’s Tiananmen Square student protests.
When asked why the country’s one-party system would seem so unfair to some 100,000 students who were protesting for governmental reform, sophomore Joseph DeRege recited the adage that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Walcott leaned in and offered a few words of encouragement.
“That’s impressive,” he told the young man.
Located on the York College campus, the high school shares a gym, cafeteria and performing arts center with the CUNY school, and students can take college classes and collaborate with undergraduates in research labs, programs York Dean Panayiotis Meleties said he hopes to expand next year.
The CUNY college wants to place a pharmacy school in the high school’s current location in the next three to five years, and Walcott said the DOE is “involved in that discussion” about relocating the high school somewhere else on the campus.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@
©2012 Community News Group
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