2000-01-15 / Editorial/Opinion

Beach Channel's Comeback

It took leadership. It took vision. It took courage. These ingredients were combined to return Beach Channel High School to its heyday, a school that Rockawayites could be proud of. Leading this charge, with a group of dedicated and determined teachers, was Bernard Gassaway, the principal of Beach Channel.

Let's rewind back a few years and take a look at what Beach Channel looked like. Parents were afraid to send their kids to the school because of "safety" concerns. Students would hang out in front of the school all hours of the day, often leading to fights. Teacher morale and school spirit was low. There were principals who said they were in charge, but spent more time behind closed doors or away at meetings. That has changed under the leadership of Gassaway, whose hands-on approach is refreshing and necessary.

Fast forward to the present and you'll see that the changes are dramatic. Drive by anytime and, except for the normal hours that students enter and leave school, you will not see any kids hanging around the premises. Inside the school is where the real improvements have taken place. Students aren't roaming the hallways, but in the classrooms learning. Beach Channel's teachers are excited about teaching and students are excited about learning.

Now there is no excuse for parents to take their kids out of the district for a "better" high school. Beach Channel is that "better" high school. The creation of the Beach Channel Law Institute, with an actual courtroom, is just one more bonus. Beach Channel has a well-respected Oceanography Institute, Honors Institute, Business Institute and a handful of other specialized programs.

Gassaway and his team of administrators and teachers have done a great job in turning the school around. Active parents who have worked close with administrators to accomplish these achievements must not be forgotten for their dedication. There are challenges still ahead of the school, but with the same leadership, vision and courage as displayed in the past two years, Beach Channel will not only be a shining star in Rockaway, but a shining star throughout the city.

Hey, What About Rockaway!

We were wondering if our elected officials or community board contacted the Mets and/or the Jets and asked, "What about Rockaway?" Maybe it's a long shot, but at least get the big shots out here to see what we have.

The Mets are looking to construct a minor league stadium in Brooklyn and the Jets want a new home. The Mets have had some problems with Howard Golden, the borough president of Brooklyn, in regards to settling on a site. The Mets threatened to walk away from the deal. Don't threaten…do it! And head right to Rockaway. We have everything to offer. Plenty of open space for a stadium and parking…take your pick of what vacant lots you want (no hassles).

Transportation wouldn't be a problem. If you're heading this way, the ferries will follow. We might even get the elected officials moving on reestablishing the Rockaway Beach LIRR line.

Rockaway could become a sports mecca--stadiums, sports-related family activities and entertainment, Sports Authority and Modell's, sports theme parks, hotels with sports themes, and maybe a sports museum.

It's big, but never impossible. It's that "vision-thing" that we so desperately need. So, which one of our elected officials wrote a letter…we'd like to see if they have that "vision-thing."

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