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LIC students land first-rate seats for State of the State

There were 2,200 people in a room in the New York State Convention Center in Albany to hear Gov. Andrew Cuomo give his State of the State speech last week and nobody had better seats in the house than a couple of high school seniors from Queens.

Shanice Davis and Jeffrey Murphy, seniors at the Academy of American Studies in Long Island City, were two of 63 students selected throughout the state to be seated on the stage where Cuomo gave his address.

“I was really nervous at first, but once you get up there it’s kind of cool,” Shanice said.

Jeffrey said he got a rush from seeing in person the same elected officials he reads about and sees on television.

“It was exciting to see all these politicians I follow,” he said.

Ellen Sherman, principal of the 680-student Long Island City school, said she got a phone call from the then-governor elect’s office in December, inviting the Academy of American Studies to participate in Albany at Work — a weekly webcast where Cuomo will be connecting to students across the state and fielding questions from pupils.

On. Jan. 3, Sherman got another call from the governor’s office inviting the school to send students to the State of the State.

Sherman said she never was given the reason why the school was selecting, saying a governor’s assistant only told her his office “did their research.”

“We’re a really good school and I like to participate” in events like the State of the State, Sherman said, noting the 15-year-old school also was invited to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City address in 2004.

In his speech, Cuomo gave a shout-out to the students, saying each was picked from each county in the state.

But Queens was the only county to have two students up on the stage.

Shanice, an aspiring attorney and Jeffrey, who wants to be an engineer, said Cuomo turned to the pupils on stage and asked them what they thought of his speech.

“He definitely broke down his plan for the Medicaid program in New York,” Jeffrey said.

Shanice said she liked how Cuomo highlighted the story of a woman in her 80s who was forced out of retirement so she could hold on to her house as well as the governor’s education plan, which is based on incentives instead of a strict formula.

The Albany at Work program is expected to start in February or March, Sherman said, with the entire school participating in the initiative.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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