Walcott visits city’s stand-out HS for Sciences

During a visit to Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott greets students Stephanie Anciro (l.) and Olajumoke Akinsulure, who is slated to attend Brown University. Photo by Christina Santucci
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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 or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 6:54 pm, May 16, 2012
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Reader feedback

Inverness from Forest Hills says:
Queens High School for the Sciences is not only a school that has some good teachers, it has something else: the ability to weed out problematic students because it's specialized, meaning that low-scoring students won't be able to attend the school.

That's another "secret" to their success. You might say the same, of high-performing charters -- when there are few-to-no special education students, nor students with behavioral problems, you will notice high performance.

There aren't any miracles, here.
May 19, 2012, 8:23 am
Norman Thomas from Kew Gardens says:
I find it quite ironic - sad and very funny - that Dennis Walcott in reaction to a student saying:“absolute power corrupts absolutely.", enthusiastically say “That’s impressive,” to the young man. Dennis Walcott knows all about absolute power and absolute corruption for he serves Mayor Bloomberg. This is the man who fixed himself a third term without asking the good people of New York who passed the term limit rule in a referendum. Bloomberg took over education - mayoral control - and dismissed anyone who had reservations regarding his methods even those who were elected by different boroughs to do so. Bloomberg presided over a serge of violence by the NYPD toward black and brown. Stop and frisk ballooned under him. It allows NYPD to stop and frisk anyone or 750,000 New Yorkers a year , most of which are black and brown and 97% released with no charges. Bloomberg - who called NYPD my private army - is corruption of power. Walcott have to be totally blind - or corrupt - no to this that
May 19, 2012, 9:25 am
Mirage from New York says:
@Iverness from Forest Hills...

First weed out your grammatical errors before trying to comment on an education-related new story. The issue at hand was the success of a public school that does not suck in nearly millions of dollars of taxpayers' money, yet achieved 4th in the city (under 3 private schools funded by an affluent alumni association and eager parents). The school does not "weed out problematic students" as you claim - every specialized high school has its problems. Many students of Stuyvesant and Bronx Science face drug-addiction and illegal substance abuse problems. I will not comment on QHSS's drug history as this is obviously a puff-piece, but QHSS accepts all the students that the Board of Ed sends it based on the SHSAT exam (which is rather easy and on the same level as the state-wide examinations in English and Math, if not a bit more challenging that students actually have to think critically), with their strengths and weaknesses. The faculty at QHSS does it to help the troubled youth that climbs to the 2nd floor (our only floor) in the York College Science Building, and they are quite successful and have justly earned QHSS 52nd place on the national rankings, above Townsend (which is not specialized, yet since you seem to be an embittered parent, I doubt your kid made it here either), Stuy, BxSci, and the infamous Tech. So before you hate on students' and teachers' hard work, learn a thing or two before taking a stance on something you know little about.

@Norman Thomas from Kew Gardens...
Similarly, this is an education-related news story, not an anarchist's forum where you can rant about your opinions of city-wide politics - so kindly gtfo.

I realize that neither of you will actually read this, but instead continued with this to make sure someone reading this article for its real purpose is not turned off by a disgruntled parent's rage over the school system that his/her child cannot pass for whatever the reason, and Mr. Thomas's hatred of Bloomberg and his handpicked staff.

Thank you.
May 29, 2012, 6:27 pm
Andy from Asgard says:
Damn Miraj, goin' IN.
May 29, 2012, 8:07 pm

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