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Klein, pupils upbeat about Briarwood school

City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, school officials and students praised Queens Gateway for Health Sciences’ new building in Briarwood on the first day of school last week, saying the new location next to Queens Hospital Center will help students vying to make a place for themselves in the medical world.

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful building, but the most important thing is how effective the program is,” Klein said before he toured the school Sept. 8. “Every student here wants to go to a first-rate college. This is a model for schools from Boston to Baltimore. We should do more of them.”

The Gateway school, which houses about 650 students in grades 7 through 12, moved from 87th Avenue in Briarwood to a $70.8 million building at 160-20 Goethals Ave. this year in order to accommodate a larger number of students interested in a health sciences curriculum. Students will work closely with Queens Hospital Center, located just next to the school.

“We’re so excited to be on the hospital’s campus,” Gateway Principal Cynthia Edwards said. “The students feel at home here. We’re in constant collaboration with the hospital. Our students do rotations there, and we use their medical library. It’s a wonderful partnership, and with this new buildings it’s even better than before.”

George Proctor, Queens Hospital Center’s executive director, said the school’s new location makes it simple for hospital officials to work with students.

“By having the school on our campus, this will make it easier for us to coordinate efforts with the students,” Proctor said. “We love working with the students, providing them the spark that introduces them to the incredible field we’re a part of.”

Elizabeth Dalchand, a senior at Gateway from Jamaica, said her time at Gateway helped to cement her plans to study biomedical engineering at Columbia University after she graduates.

“Getting a chance to do rotations at the hospital, getting to talk to doctors and nurses, it gives you a perspective you wouldn’t get at another school,” Dalchand said.

Klein noted ambitious students like Dalchand are the norm at Gateway, where 98 percent of the students go on to college.

Students and school officials led Klein and elected officials, including Borough President Helen Marshall, state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) on a tour throughout the school Sept. 7, during which time the officials made stops in an eighth-grade social studies class and a class named “Hospital Experience at Queens Gateway.”

Students in the hospital class took Klein’s blood pressure — which was “normal,” according Talia Donas, a freshman from Richmond Hill.

Marshall said she was thrilled to see the building open.

“The health profession is one of the most lucrative,” Marshall said. “That’s a career where the students will find a job.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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