Canarsie H.S. Prestige, Reputation Discussed At Town Hall Meeting
By Farah Louis
Canarsie High School hosted a Town Hall Meeting last Saturday in an effort to bridge the gap between the community and parents with goals to reshape its reputation and prestige.
The meeting was attended by 27 participants and was chaired by the school's Parent Coordinator Dwayne Washington, who introduced panelists Principal David Harris, Assistant Principal Ms. Mujahid, Assistant Principal of Physical Education Ms. Kennedy and CBO (Community Based Organization) members of Canarsie HS.
"The Town Hall Meeting is about building bridges with parents, local businesses, pastors from local churches, congressmen and everyone involved in the community to help get Canarsie High School back to the way it was," said Washington.
Washington addressed several issues, including student attendance, various academic programs and other concerns. Parents and others were allowed to express and offer solutions for the school's problems and its shaky reputation.
The high school was recently designated to SURR (School Under Registration Review) status and is undergoing evaluation by New York State, which could affect the secondary school's status.
Mujahid addressed Canarsie High School's future of being an overcrowded and failing school.
"We are in SURR status due to Regent test scores. Freshmen coming from middle schools can't handle the classes and it lowers the school's level," she said. "South Shore and Tilden are closing and we received 700 freshmen in 2006 because those schools are not taking them. We have 2,500 students and we're still growing. We're left standing and will continue to stand and will rebuild Canarsie."
Principal Harris noted that although Canarsie is on the SURR list due to low Regents test scores dating back five years, students remain focused.
"Our students don't consider the school as failing and take advantage of the resources to become successful. This too shall pass. We have a strong staff and students. We were given a two-year extension to get to a better level," Harris said.
In spite of pressures for substantial academic improvements, Canarsie High School has created programs and workshops with organizations, offers opportunities to students who excel, assists failing students and gives some students a second chance to succeed academically.
A program called Global Kids, supervised by David Vasquez, trains and empowers students through workshops and informs students about global issues and expands thinking beyond the classroom. Global Kids also educates on social issues that affects all races, religions and cultures.
"Our program funds resources for students with attendance issues. Our objective is to engage students to learn and better serve the community while improving attendance in school and with report cards. Global Kids has five different after-school programs such as photography, dance, healthcare, theater and College Now participation," said Vasquez.
Ironically, Canarsie High School has a successful nursing program, which was initiated in 1989 by Registered Nurse Leibowitz, who continues to work with students interested in pursuing a career in healthcare.
Leibowitz says, "I started the nursing program because I wanted to and because New York City has a high need for nurses. The program is approved by the Department of Health and recognized by the Department of Education. It is real training where students take a 10-course sequence throughout high school. When students successfully finish the program, they receive a seal on their diploma stating that they are certified."
Programs such as Global Kids and the Nursing Programs are the platform in which Canarsie High School students will excel and ignite others to join or petition for diverse programs that will bring them to a prosperous academic position and elevate the schools reputation level.