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Beach Channel High School
May 14, 2015
Victim in train derailment leaves lasting legacy at Queens high school
Justin Zemser, who died in this week's train derailment near Philadelphia, was Channel View's valedictorian, football team captain, and its student body president.
July 1, 2014
As Columbus closes, its last class celebrates a bittersweet graduation
More than 140 under-performing schools have closed since the Bloomberg administration began phasing schools out early in his tenure. Christopher Columbus High School is one of 18 to graduate its last class this year.
November 13, 2012
For storm-swept Rockaway football team, a brief bright moment
Coach Victor Nazario had no shortage of material to draw on as he launched into a pep talk for the Beach Channel Campus Dolphins before their playoff football game on Saturday. Less than two weeks before, the Rockaway Peninsula — home to Beach Channel and many of its students — had borne the full force of Hurricane Sandy. Since the storm, members of the football team, like so many others, had been camped out in cold, dark apartments or bouncing among family, friends, and hotels elsewhere — anywhere with power and heat and access to food. On Thursday, Nazario rushed to organize a practice to prepare for the Saturday matchup, but he was not sure if enough players would show up. A day earlier, just 15 percent of Beach Channel students made it to the school’s first day in a new location. Now, just before kickoff, Nazario looked around the Port Richmond High School cafeteria, the team's makeshift locker room, and saw that he had enough players to field a team. His voice cracked with emotion almost as soon as he opened his mouth. “Needless to say, the last two weeks have really tested our character and our resilience and, in my opinion, you guys passed in flying colors,” Nazario said. Before heading out onto the field, Nazario reminded the players to relish their time on the field. “We handle our business," he said. "And then we go home to deal with the dark.”
November 1, 2012
City moves forward with opening schools in Sandy's aftermath
A line across the bricks of Brooklyn's P.S. 195 indicates how high floodwaters reached there on Monday night. Despite massive transportation problems, ongoing power outages, and dozens of buildings so severely damaged that they cannot be used in the near future, the city is moving forward with a plan to open schools by Monday, one week after Hurricane Sandy swept across the city. On Wednesday, Mayor Bloomberg announced that students would return to classes next week and that teachers would be required to report for work on Friday to prepare. Chancellor Dennis Walcott told reporters today that the timeline was firm. "There are no ifs ands or buts about it," Walcott said. "They will open. We know they'll open." But exactly where each of the schools will open is an unresolved question. Of the city's roughly 1,200 school buildings, 174 are still not operational today because of flooding, loss of power, or other damages, Walcott said, a number that had declined by about 25 since Wednesday. Of them, 44 buildings housing 79 schools are considered "severely damaged" and will have to undergo major repairs before they are safe for students, he said. The severely damaged schools include Brooklyn's John Dewey High School, where officials said today a transformer fire had essentially burned through the building's electrical system, and Beach Channel High School in Queens, where flooding caused the school's boiler to burst and leak oil into Jamaica Bay. Walcott said the department was now working with city's Department of Environmental Protection to contain the spill. Students and teachers from the severely damaged schools, and from schools that still do not have power, will be sent to other locations when classes resume on Monday. The alternate locations, which could involve dividing some schools across multiple sites, had not yet been finalized this afternoon, Walcott said.
January 14, 2011
As closure hearings begin, format changes but opposition stays
School closure season began in earnest this week, as city officials began to hold required public hearings at each of the 25 district schools it hopes to shutter. But in contrast to last year's meetings — where officials often sat impassively as school supporters emotionally protested the closures — officials are now using the hearings to directly respond to attendees' criticisms and concerns. At Queens' Beach Channel High School, which held its hearing Thursday evening, the meeting format had changed, but the anger over the proposed closure — while quieter than last year's — was still palpable. At last year's hearing, vocal supporters of Beach Channel did not turn out in the vast numbers as supporters of other schools slated for closure like Jamaica High School, but those who did were passionate about saving the last zoned high school in the Rockaways. This year, a smaller but still fervent crowd came to the school to make many of the same arguments. The closure of Far Rockaways High School had flooded Beach Channel with needy students just as the school's budget began to be slashed, they maintained. And they argued that the Rockaways community needs a zoned high school, lest students be forced into long commutes to other, overcrowded high schools in Queens. "Right now there is no incentive to send a local child to this school," said LaVern Powell, who has taught living environment and human biology at Beach Channel since 2003.
December 21, 2010
A tale of two documents: the city's impact statements evolve
At the heart of the city's major courtroom loss to the union earlier this year over school closures were 19 short documents — the "educational impact statements" that the city used to make its case for shuttering schools. Now, the city has given those documents a makeover. But a review of last year's and this year's versions of the EIS for one school — Beach Channel High School in Rockaway, Queens — shows that while the reinvented statements are vastly more informative, they still skirt many of the points cited by critics opposed to closing the schools. When a panel of judges blocked the closures last year, they acknowledged that the law gives city officials little guidance on what to include in the documents but does give them the discretion to close schools they believe are failing. But, as a panel of appellate court judges wrote, officials "abused that discretion by limiting the information they provided to the obvious — that students at phased-out schools would be accommodated at other schools to be determined." The revamped documents are city officials' effort to cover their bases and go beyond "the obvious." It's still unclear how critics of last year's process will greet the new statements. Union officials have said that they intend to pay close attention to how this year's school closures unfold and possibly lobby Albany to change the process altogether.
January 7, 2010
Beach Channel supporters lay out their case against closure
Beach Channel UFT chapter leader David Pecoraro spoke against the Department of Education's plan to close the high school, as parents, alumni and other teachers waited behind him to speak. Parents, students, teachers and alumni of Beach Channel High School asked Department of Education officials last night not to close their school, arguing the phase-out would be arbitrary, unnecessary and devastating for the Rockaway Park community. The crowd that turned out to Beach Channel's auditorium for the public hearing on the DOE's plan to shutter the school wasn't huge, but it was energized. Audience members jeered at DOE officials, including Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, and speakers frequently ignored officials' requests to limit their speeches to two minutes. When senior Chris Petrillo approached the front of the auditorium, asking to give a presentation originally intended for Chancellor Joel Klein, Grimm initially asked him to wait until after a group of elected officials commented on the proposal. A chant grew in the audience: "Let the student speak." Grimm ceded the floor. Petrillo, who spent the evening of his 18th birthday at the meeting, proceeded to present a slide-show of reasons not to close the school, questions about the closure and photos depicting programs cut from the school during his time there. "Why can't the money being used to open up a new school be used to fix us?" Petrillo asked.
December 21, 2009
Queens City Council members petition Klein to save schools
City Councilman David Weprin (right) signs a petition urging the DOE not to close 20 city schools. Councilman Eric Ulrich (left) plans to deliver the petition to Chancellor Joel Klein's office this afternoon. Members of the Queens City Council delegation called on Chancellor Joel Klein to abandon plans to close 20 city schools today. Standing on the steps of Tweed Courthouse and joined by colleagues representing other boroughs, Queens Council members accused the Department of Education of threatening to close schools without first trying to improve them or seeking community input. City Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents Rockaway Beach, said the DOE did not notify his office before announcing its proposal to close Beach Channel High School. Ulrich is circulating a petition signed by nearly all of the Queens Council members calling on the DOE to abandon its plans to close the borough's schools. Ulrich said he intended to deliver the petition to Chancellor Joel Klein's office this afternoon. (He jokingly said he might nail it to the doors of Tweed.) Many of the 11 Council members and members-elect who attended the news meeting called for discussions with parents, community leaders, and the teachers union about how to improve struggling schools before resorting to closure.
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