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City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott made a stop at a unique school in southeast Queens last week as he toured the five boroughs for the first day of school.
The schools big-wig was greeted by a class of uniformed students at the Eagle Academy for Young Men, at 171-10 Linden Blvd. in St. Albans, Sept. 6 when they moved into their new home, the former Allen Christian School on Linden Boulevard.
The academy is a public school with the mission of closing the achievement gap for young men of color. It was founded by the Eagle Academy Foundation, which also established schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Newark and also acts as a fund-raising partner.
“When we opened our first school in 2004, the graduation rate for young black and Latino men was 32 percent,” said foundation President and CEO David Banks. “It’s 52 percent now. That’s [still] a crisis.”
“A lot of people think that if you’re a young man of color, you aren’t capable of academic achievement,” he added. “We’re disproving that.”
When the foundation opened its Queens school with 85 sixth-grade students in 2010, it was located in the same building with IS 59 in Springfield Gardens.
The school now has about 250 young men in Grades 6, 7 and 8 and plans to grow to almost 600 students as it adds Grades 9 through 12.
The school had been looking for a new home last year when the city Department of Education struck a deal with the Allen school, which was closing due to financial difficulties.
The city School Construction Authority renovated the building’s gymnasium/auditorium and 15 classrooms in preparation for the start of the school year, and it plans to complete a second phase of 15 additional classrooms, a science laboratory, band music room and new locker rooms for the 2013 school year.
Walcott said Eagle represented one of the “many choices” the DOE offers to parents as he toured the newly renovated building.
Principal Kenyatta Reid led Walcott to a classroom full of young men dressed in gray pants, blue shirts and striped ties with a golden eagle emblazoned on them.
“You have the unique distinction of being the first high school graduates of this school,” Walcott said. “You will be the leaders.”
The tour went through a science lab and an art room with a peek into the classrooms that would be ready next year before ending in the auditorium.
Anthony Lang, an eighth-grader from South Jamaica, said the new building was “way more high-tech and cleaner” than the last one.
“We had to share a building with another school, so we didn’t have a lot of space,” he said. “We have more opportunities than we had before.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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