Today’s news:

Boro high schools excel in academics, community service

Examining test scores and the grading system of schools shows an improvement of our lower grades and high schools. Last June, reading and math scores improved from the third− through eight−grades. Some grades made a double−digit jump in scores. Scores were up in every type of community.

Now the new progress reports about each high school have been released and they show an improvement in schools receiving A and B grades.

High school grades are based on school environment (15 percent of the grade), student performance (25 percent) and student progress (60 percent). Student environment results are based on surveys taken by parents, students and teachers. Student performance measures the number of graduates and student progress tracks how well schools help students graduate.

Two academic− and community service−minded students were honored by being invited to attend the inauguration of President−elect Barack Obama Jan. 20 by the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference. They are Carolina Torres from Hillcrest High School and Manakshi Panindranauth from Martin Van Buren High School. They were recommended by their teachers.

Townsend Harris High School was recently honored for its rigorous science program by Intel Corp. in Washington, D.C. The school was one of six winners of the Intel Schools of Distinction Award. It was also named the 45th best high school in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

Francis Lewis High School has more than 4,000 students. Of particular interest is the JROTC program. Students can be seen in their uniforms in surrounding communities. This school had the most admission applications of any Queens high school.

An interesting story was told of a bill created by the honors economics class of Forest Hills High School, with the help of state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D−Forest Hills). While studying financial literacy, the students realized that their utility bills have all kinds of extra charges which they did not understand. The bill being introduced will require utility companies to print surcharges in a larger font.

Last term, students from Cardozo and Francis Lewis high schools were winners in a Lincoln−Douglas debate in different divisions. These schools beat teams from other city high schools.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D−Forest Hills) recently visited Richmond Hill High School, where he talked to about 200 juniors and seniors about government and politics. The students participate in many activities, such as canned food drives, penny harvests, UNICEF fund−raising and helping the local Trinity United Methodist Church with its pancake breakfast. The students work through school organizations, such as the Key Club and ARISTA.

John Bowne High School has a 3.5−acre farm behind it with goats, chickens and a greenhouse where vegetables are raised. The 200 agricultural students belong to FAA, a student farm organization. Twelve students recently went to the national FAA convention in Indianapolis, Ind., where they attended meetings, visited agricultural booths and competed in agricultural career events.

The Long Island City High School JROTC distributed toys to students at Elmhurst Hospital. About 25 members, in military uniform or costumes, distributed toys as part of the hospital’s Child Life Program.

The city Landmarks Preservation Commission is reviewing the history and architecture of Jamaica High School to see if it can be designated a historically significant building. The school is 83 years old.

PS 173 in Flushing has just celebrated its 60th anniversary with a party in the school.

PS 178, the Holliswood School, has been named a U.S. Department of Education 2008 Blue Ribbon School.

The United Federation of Teachers has honored PS 33 in Queens Village and the Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights with UFT Partnership Awards for the professional relationship and collaboration between teachers and administrators.

Hillcrest HS is being recognized for transforming itself, a 3,000−plus, diverse academic urban school, into nine small learning communities and keeping its integrity intact. Principal Stephen Duch and Social Studies Assistant Principal Dan Scanlon recently spoke at a U.S. DOE conference in Baltimore on improving America’s high schools and transforming their school into SLCs. They will speak in Phoenix next month.

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