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THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata
THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Focusing resources and leadership to raise achievement is the motto of the city’s new initiative for “Renewal Schools,” one of which is Richmond Hill High School.

Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the school on Thursday to meet with students and faculty and map out its progress in this initiative.

“We are investing in tools that we know help students catch up and succeed — more learning time, extra tutoring, coaches to help teachers improve instruction. We’re already seeing signs of progress on the ground at places like Richmond Hill High School,” de Blasio said. “We have a plan to fix long-struggling schools, and we’ll hold ourselves and these schools accountable for results. This is why we’re calling on our colleagues in Albany to work with us to renew Mayoral Control and provide the level of support needed to drive these gains further.”

Richmond Hill was reportedly on a steady decline for quite some time regarding graduation rates for students, among other problems. The “Renewal School” process is meant to change the direction of these declining schools.

It’s also supposed to give a school “leadership coaching, expanded after-school programs, weekend tutoring and new tools to monitor and improve student performance.”

One of these new tools is called the “Are You Green?” initiative, a tracking method of each individual student’s graduation progress. If students are in the “green,” it means they are on pace to graduate; “yellow” means they need some improvement in certain areas and “red” means they are not on track to graduate on time.

Richmond Hill High School has over 2,000 students enrolled. At this point last year, 60 percent of students were on pace to graduate but since this program has been in place, that number has gone up by 7 percent.

This initiative has also made the school safer. Serious or violent incidents are down 27 percent compared to last year and suspensions are down over 70 percent.

“There have been challenges, but with the support and resources we’re receiving through the Renewal program, Richmond Hill is getting back on the right track,” said Neil Ganesh, principal of Richmond Hill High School. “We’re extending learning time, motivating students through the ‘Are You Green?’ initiative, engaging parents and families, and — because the city has believed and invested in us — we have saved our arts program. There’s so much more hard work ahead of us, but the Richmond Hill Lions are roaring again.”

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