2005-09-16 / Community

Change Marks Opening Of New School Year

By Howard Schwach


Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at Far Rockaway High School in January as the school was taken off the city’s “Impact List,” the list of the most dangerous schools. Among those taking part in the Mayor’s press conference was Police Commissioner Raymond Kelley, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, School Principal Denise Hallett (left) and Region Five Superintendent Kathleen Cashin (right).Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at Far Rockaway High School in January as the school was taken off the city’s “Impact List,” the list of the most dangerous schools. Among those taking part in the Mayor’s press conference was Police Commissioner Raymond Kelley, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, School Principal Denise Hallett (left) and Region Five Superintendent Kathleen Cashin (right). Far Rockaway High School is now the Far Rockaway Educational Campus, a reorganized school with five different “smaller schools” and a brand new staff.

Beach Channel High School is now the Beach Channel Educational Campus with a growing “Channel View School For Research” program that is utilizing more and more of the school building each year.

Middle School 180 (the Gerald R. Dever Middle School) now has two principals and two programs – a regular eighth grade program and the district’s “Scholar’s Academy.”

PS 225 in Rockaway Beach has virtually an entirely new staff in a reorganized building.

More Rockaway schools have made it to the state’s “In Need of Improvement (INP) list. Of the 12 District 27 schools in the list, nine of them are now in Rockaway.

“It’s a year of change,” said one local principal who asked not to be identified because he had no permission to speak with the media. “Let’s hope it’s not a change for the worst.”

The major change took place at Far Rockaway High School, which begins the year with a new staff and a new program as well as a new name.

The Far Rockaway Educational Campus will actually house five small “Learning Communities.”

All ninth graders will spend the year in an intensive academic component in which students can pick up 12 credits in one year, taking double periods of both mathematics and language arts each day.

After the ninth grade, each student will choose one of the self-contained learning communities. According to a Department of Education source, those five communities include: The Health Career Institute; The Law, Leadership and Justice Institute; The Business and Computer Technology Institute and the Construction and Design Technology Institute.

Each of the institutes will reportedly run in conjunction with a community-based organization such as universities and trade groups.

In addition, the campus also houses the Frederick Douglass Academy IV High School, a grades nine to eleven program that emphasizes college preparation and is supported by “rigorous college prep courses and cultural enrichment.” That program will become grades nine to twelve next year, as will the Channel View School For Research at the Beach Channel Educational Campus.

The school program that will perhaps have the most impact on Rockaway parents and students is the Scholar’s Academy at MS 180, which will be run by Principal Brian O’Connell, a Rockaway resident who is moving over from PS 114. For many years, west end parents sent their students not to MS 180, but to magnet schools in Brooklyn or to private schools.

Those parents lobbied for many years for a gifted magnet school program for Rockaway students and Region Five Superintendent Kathleen Cashin responded with the Scholar’s Academy.

This year, the school building will also host a regular eighth grade program because students already in the school have a right to stay there through their terminal grade. Beginning next year, however, the school will house only the gifted program.

And, while the Scholar’s Academy represents the top performing students in Rockaway, there are other schools that represent the lowest performing students.

Those nine schools on the state’s INP List include: PS 42 in Arverne; MS 53 in Far Rockaway; MS 180 in Rockaway Beach; PS 183 in Hammels; PS 197 in Far Rockaway; MS 198 in Arverne; PS 225 in Rockaway Beach; Beach Channel Educational Campus and Far Rockaway Educational Campus.

Those schools will receive special funding and technical assistance, according to a spokesperson for the state’s Department of Education. Schools get on the list based on scores on standardized English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science test scores.

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