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The launching of a new pre-med program has helped lift Martin Van Buren High School onto a steady path to recovery, administrators said.
First-year Principal Sam Sochet teamed up with North Shore-LIJ to establish the medical internships one year after lawmakers said public outcry and bad grades bruised the Queens Village school’s reputation.
Sochet made the project official Friday when he signed a contract with the hospital in New Hyde Park, ushering in the first of four programs.
“We have one of the largest employers right here, miles away from the high school,” Sochet said outside the Katz Women’s Hospital building. “To have something like this available to our students — I’m almost pinching myself.”
Lawmakers joined with concerned parents last year to call on the city’s Department of Education to remove former Principal Marilyn Shevell after a series of poor progress reports. Sochet signed on as the school’s new principal in July and his leadership has been under close watch with positive reviews.
“Martin Van Buren has historically been a wonderful high school and we have put our efforts in to help turn it around,” said City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), one of three elected officials on hand for the contract’s signing. “They have made amazing strides in the past year and this is a vital step in becoming a destination once again.”
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) helped lead the push for new leadership at the school in 2012 and said he was glad to see Sochet reaching out to the community for more neighborhood programming.
“These new programs are the product of a tremendous collaboration,” Avella said. “I believe they will help return the school to its preeminence.”
The pre-med program hopefully will be a big draw to attract more area students to attend Martin Van Buren, state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) said.
“We want kids to go local,” he said. “And we can do that if we have quality programs coming out of a quality local school.”
Borough leaders helped play matchmaker between Martin Van Buren and North Shore-LIJ so the school’s new leadership could diversify its programming. Under the new internship, North Shore-LIJ staff will open its doors to accepted pre-med students to conduct clinical research and receive hands-on experience. Sochet said students will be selected through a screening process based on demand.
Martin Van Buren senior Foysal Daian will graduate in June and attend Columbia University as a bio-chem major, but said he was still excited to see the new opportunity for his classmates with similar ambitions.
“This should be a great opportunity for students to explore their skills and research,” Daian said. “Our new principal has been great with the students and I’m glad to see him give us a chance to learn how the medical field works.”
Sochet said the school was also finalizing plans for three more internship programs, including engineering, pre-law forensics and computer technology.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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