By Bob Harris

Jamaica High School, with its tower reaching upwards and manicured grounds, has been landmarked by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission. On June 17, a ceremony was held in the school auditorium. Students and staff attended the event, including a number of officials and graduates.

Jamaica HS was built in 1927 to accommodate the rapidly expanding population of eastern Queens. By 1956, the school had a population of 4,613 students and the largest enrollment in Queens, which drew people from as far as the city line. In the 1980s, it had the third-lowest dropout rate in the city. My wife, Edna, class of 1958, and daughters Andrea, class of 1986, and Jennifer, class of 1991, attended the school. I was Parent-Teacher Association president at the end of Jennifer’s stay.

The event also celebrated the naming of the school auditorium after the principal’s secretary, Doris Reid, who had worked in the school from 1948 until she retired in 2004. She was mentioned as part of the history of the school because a principal’s secretary is the gatekeeper. A scholarship was set up in her name after she retired called the Doris Reid Scholarship Fund.

A contribution can be sent to the Treasurer, Jamaica High School, 167-01 Gothic Drive, Jamaica, New York, 11432. The current principal, Walter G. Acham, spoke of the past and future and, with the help of City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) and Principal Emeritus Harris Sarney, dedicated the auditorium to Reid.

The landmarking was a tribute to the work of historian Jeffrey Gottlier and Gennaro, with the help of LPC Chairman Robert Tierney and local civic associations. During the ceremony, the school’s color guard presented the colors and the school’s Haitian Club danced. Current students Cheryl Leader, Zora Jiles, Tracy Ganga and Christopher O’Connor took part in the festivities. When the school song, “Red and Gold,” was sung, it seemed all the graduates were also singing — especially my wife, Edna.

Jamaica HS is old and has that old historic look. Woodwork was everywhere, wood-lined display cases along the corridor walls were filled with photos of bygone years, there was a large mural outside the auditorium and there were long corridors with those swinging fire doors, polished tile floors and offices on the main floor with the old wood everywhere. The school looked like a grand old lady.

I noticed alumni from my neighborhood, including a few who were up from Florida for the summer season. Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) came by for a while and told me he was an alumnus. Jackie Forrestal from the Hillcrest Estates Civic Association; Mike Bookbinder, president of the Jamaica Estates Civic Association; and Debbie Ayala, president of the Jamaica Hill Civic Association were there. It was Ayala, along with Gottlier and Acham, who accepted the landmark citation from Tierney.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: We like having Cunningham and Flushing Meadows Corona parks as greenspaces with animals and birds, but raccoons could pose a health problem.

Raccoons are only out at night, but raccoons out during the day could have rabies. Raccoons can also spread a disease called raccoon roundworm. Cases have been found in an infant and a teenager in Brooklyn. The roundworm eggs come from raccoon feces. Infants put their fingers in their mouths and can thus get the disease after touching raccoon feces found on the ground. The larvae can travel to the brain, liver and spinal cord of humans and cause nausea, seizures, blindness and brain damage.

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