1999-12-25 / Columnists

The Week at

The Rock
by Stuart L. Astor


On Saturday, December 11, 24 mentors from Far Rockaway High School, accompanied by their teacher, Mrs. Fern Jacoby, were treated to a holiday concert presented by the Grammy Foundation. This concert was sponsored by Mentoring USA, whose founder is Matilda Raffa Cuomo.

The concert was a wonderful mixture of Brazilian music and holiday songs. The highlight of the afternoon was meeting Mrs. Cuomo, who expressed great satisfaction with the mentors and their work tutoring and advising younger students at neighboring J.H.S. 180.

FRHS is the only high school in the city currently working with Mentoring USA. Our mentors have been thoroughly trained and are constantly upgrading their mentoring skills. They meet regularly to discuss problems and share techniques. All the mentors agreed with Mrs. Cuomo that mentoring is an extremely valuable experience.


Mr. Leonard Cohen teaches the conflict resolution elective in the Social Studies Department. This class, founded and originally taught by the late Joan Janciewicz, is part of the superintendents’ initiative to end violence in the schools. The 15 enrolled students are instructed in methods of negotiation. They develop a curriculum for themselves with two ultimate purposes: 1) to solve problems between and among students peacefully, even before they happen, and, 2) to spread the word of non-violence throughout the school. The program emphasizes tolerance of others’ cultures in a multi-cultural environment. Much of the class’s activities were featured just before Thanksgiving during the "Day of National Concern," when anti-violence posters were put in place throughout FRHS and students were encouraged to sign pledges against violence.

Conflict resolution class is one of two anti-violence measures funded by the Office of the Superintendent of Queens High Schools. The other, designed to deal with violent conflicts as or after they begin, is a peer mediation component. The adviser to that program, Ms. Fardan, works closely with Mr. Ernesto Isaac, of the community-based organization, Project Smart.

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