Campus Magnet gets new HS

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Photo gallery

Incoming student Mahrukh Annum, 14, (front) checks into orientation. Photo by Caroll Alvarado
Principal Gareth Robinson (l.) discusses plans for the Institute for Health Professions inaugural school year. Photo by Caroll Alvarado
Chief Medical Officer David Battinelli highlights the opportunities available to high school students through a partnership with the North Shore-LIJ Health System and Hofstra University. Photo by Caroll Alvarado
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott says he expects a new high school to raise standards at the storied Campus Magnet complex in Cambria Heights. Photo by Rich Bockmann
A cake was made for the occasion. Photo by Caroll Alvarado

Educators are hoping the third time is a charm for the institution some in southeast Queens still refer to as Andrew Jackson High School.

City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and the city Department of Education’s partners were on hand at the Campus Magnet complex in Cambria Heights Tuesday morning for an opening ceremony for a new health school, the third major incarnation of the notorious Andrew Jackson High.

“All the students who are here today, we expect you to graduate in four years,” Walcott told the pupils who will make up the inaugural class of the Institute for Health Professions, a career technical education school set to open next month, at 207-01 116th St.

The school was approved in March by the city Panel for Educational Policy, which voted to phase in one grade a year until the 2016 school year as it simultaneously phases out two low-performing high schools at the campus: Law, Government & Community Service and Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship.

The schools were created in 1994, when the then-Board of Education broke Andrew Jackson High down into four smaller, thematic schools.

Andrew Jackson had a notorious reputation for violence and drug use, along with poor graduation rates. In 1992, the school had a four-year graduation rate of 31 percent.

The two other schools borne out of the ashes of Andrew Jackson have watched their four-year rates climb to more than 70 percent, while the rates of students graduating on time from LGCS and BCAE were at or below 43 percent in 2012, the latest year the for which the city has data.

The Institute for Health Professions and its partners, which include Hofstra University and the North Shore-LIJ Health System, are hoping the school’s support system will help push students to achieve.

“Career-technical education prepares students for college and careers through integration of rigorous academic and workforce skills through connections with industry and higher education, said Gerry House, president of the Institute for Student Achievement, a nonprofit that partners with about 60 schools in the city going through some kind of transformation.

Upon graduation, students earn a certification either as an emergency medical technician or nursing assistant through a collaboration with the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.

Principal Gareth Robinson told the inaugural class that the support they receive will give them a leg up after four years.

“When you graduate you will walk out with an industry-standard certification and real-world experience that will make you highly competitive for jobs and college,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 3:12 am, August 30, 2013
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Reader feedback

raina lee from cambria heights says:
so until the other two schools are fazed out, there will be 5 schools in one building. That is ridiculous, they barely have enough room for the schools that is there now. When are they going to realize that its not the name of the school its the core structure of the curriculum. This is why the kids are not graduating on time.
What a mess and for the record Andrew Jackson High School turned out some very successful, productive individuals.
Aug. 30, 2013, 8:23 am
Jaz from Brooklyn says:
I am a product of AJHS, class of 1984. I too, agree it's not the name of the school... I only attended my last two years. I would not change it for the world
Aug. 31, 2013, 6:59 pm
Cheryl Spencer from Valley Stream says:
" Andrew Jackson had a notorious reputation for violence and drug use.." Andrew Jackson also has a reputatation of resiliency, collaboration and community service. Look no further than the contributions of AJ alumni who annually attend the career day of whatever name our alma mata is being called. It will always be Jackson to us. Look no further than the works of a fellow AJ alum in Embrace Ya Kids helping the youth fulfill their education dreams. At minimum Andrew Jackson in the midst of that notoriety inspired and influenced many of the music played in video games, MTV, pop culture and fashion. I give credit to the few White teachers who didn't join the masses and exit when the demographics of Jackson changed. I thank the teachers who realized that in the midst of the reputation of drug and violence there were students who wanted to learn and parents who expected nothing less. I want to thank the genius behind College Bound, an initiative to support, promote and reward students who did well. We were not isolated from the acts of some of our peers no more than they were isolated from us. We were one then and one now. AJ forever. So let the reports of Andrew Jackson tell the whole story. Sincerely, Cheryl Spencer PhD class of 1982
Aug. 31, 2013, 7:48 pm
Rachel Wallace from Laurelton, NY says:
Don't believe the hype!! Nothing is all bad. The press painted a picture of Jackson being a repository for non performing students. Not true. As others have pointed out, many of the community's leaders are graduates of Andrew Jackson. The creation of the initial magnets was, at best, a huge waste of money. There was little concern for the intellectual development of students, but rather, let's get those statistics up. Little concern was given to the students who came to Jackson from many of the Caribbean islands. Many of those students had little education yet Jackson was charged with the responsibility of bringing them up to standards in four short years. When the Magnets came, these students were shipped off to Springfield Gdns. HS. Why? So that the magnet's scores would rise. Did it work? Obviously not and that is too bad.

By the way, the correct name of the school is the Campus Magnet High Schools at Andrew Jackson. Check it out.
And it will be Andrew Jackson High School forever.

Rachel Thompson-Wallace, Class of 1988
Sept. 1, 2013, 3:26 am
pandora washington-gadson from springfield gardens. says:
I am also a product of Andrew Jackson, class of 1973. Look the school had its ups and downs. Parents do need to get involved. Some kids are going to have problems. They need to be helped. Like someone else put, The school from us former students will always be Andrew Jackson.
Sept. 1, 2013, 7:54 pm
Jesse Brown from south jamaica,queens says:
I am and was a product of Andrew Jackson and yes back then the school had its ups and downs but its all about the individuals who wanna learn some wants it more than others that dont mean the school was not good.for me i went through it all and still made it out with a good education Andrew jackson for ever to me and to others who made it out.and tbanks to coach chuck Gramby ,Deanand friend.
Sept. 18, 2013, 11:45 pm
Marcel Webster from Concord,NC says:
It seems that there are always those who wish to give Andrew Jackson the negative publicity it does not deserve. It seems that Andrew Jackson, like ALL NEW YORK HIGH SCHOOLS, has had some form of drug/violence at one time or another. As far as the graduation rate, it is easy to assemble that data, but if you are comparing it with white new york city high schools(yes, unfortunately it has to be said), this data may be correct. However, the playing field for which black and white new York city high schools play by, are not equal. I cannot dispute the drug/violence/grad rate at Andrew Jackson. Just correlate the facts with real data. I am a alumni of Andrew Jackson, and proud of that.
Sept. 21, 2013, 7:44 pm
Todd Ferrell from Va Beach, Va says:
Class of 1979 and proud of it. Hoping the best for all the students.
Oct. 29, 2013, 2:19 pm
Brad Quincy Hartley from Queens says:
Feb. 16, 2015, 7:55 pm

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