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Doors swing open in Briarwood for all-girls school’s new building

An all-girls public school that has been growing for half a decade now has a place to call home in Briarwood.

The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens kicked off the school year last week in its new building at 150-91 87th Road and students, especially its first class of seniors, said they were excited about the new location. The girls previously had to learn out of classrooms in trailers and until last year shared space with the Queens Gateway to Health School, which recently moved out of the building to a new space near Queens Hospital Center.´╗┐

Speaking at the school’s auditorium just before the sixth- through 12th-graders started their classes Sept. 8, Principal Avionne Gumbs said the building marked a significant moment in the institution’s five-year history.

“I was particularly happy for our seniors, who have found a home for their graduating year,” she said.

The all-girls institution is run by the nonprofit Young Women’s Leadership Network, which administers ´╗┐public schools in inner-city neighborhoods. Its schools in Harlem, Astoria and Brooklyn has a strong academic track record with more than 95 percent of their students going on to attend college following graduation.

The Briarwood school was founded in 2005 and currently has 520 girls in attendance. Senior Melissa Singh spoke highly about her education and said that studying in her own building was a testament to the hard work of her classmates and teachers.

“We took that big step five years ago, and look at where we are now,” she said.

The school was also commended by state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows). Smith advised parents to support what the girls were learning in their classrooms by encouraging them to stay in school.

“I know you are all working hard, but it’s not over because they are going to college. It’s just the beginning,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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