New Gateway site saluted as science dream

Queens elected officials and school representatives celebrate the ribbon cutting for the Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School in Briarwood last week. Photo courtesy of Jim Gennaro's office
By Anna Gustafson

The Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School’s new building in Briarwood will help launch students into successful careers in the medical world, city officials, borough lawmakers and educators said at the school’s ribbon-cutting last week.

“Gateway is a dream come true,” Deputy Mayor for Education Dennis Walcott, who lives in Cambria Heights, said of the building that opened in September. “This school is and will be fantastic. It will be a pride to our community and city.”

The Gateway school, which houses about 650 students in grades 7 through 12, moved from 87th Avenue in Briarwood to a $70.8 million building at 160-20 Goethals Ave. this year in order to accommodate a larger number of students interested in a health sciences curriculum. Students will work closely with Queens Hospital Center, located just next to the school.

“Being on the campus of a hospital, these children will get to have field experience, which is really amazing,” Borough President Helen Marshall said. “God knows we need all the doctors we can get. These children will be taking care of us.”

People packed the new Gateway auditorium Nov. 17 for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at which numerous speakers lauded the school, both in its former and current building — a massive improvement over the old facility, according to the principal.

“It gives the students the resources they need for a first-class education,” Gateway Principal Cynthia Edwards said.

Edwards went on to say that the new school “represents freedom from cluttered hallways,” “freedom from our half-sized gym,” “freedom for us at least to provide our children greater entry” into medical professions.

City Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) and state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) both touted the school’s successes, saying student achievement will grow even more than it already had at the previous building. Gateway students have had an excellent record on college admission rates, and 98 percent of the students there went to college last year.

“I can’t help but think of the great things that will come from the students who will flourish here,” Gennaro said.

Lancman, who previously served on the board of Queens Hospital Center, said the new building gives students the chance to “become great leaders.”

Last week’s ribbon cutting was a long time coming for many of those involved with Gateway, said Morton Slater, director of the Gateway Institute.

“This is a struggle that began in 1992 or earlier, when we thought this building wouldn’t get built, and we thought that as late as 2005,” Slater said in reference to some community opposition to the school.

Former student Tashawn Williams, who graduated from Gateway in 2007, said his alma mater helped to propel him to academic success, and he is now going to Stony Brook University with the goal of becoming a doctor.

“When I came through the front doors and I saw the gym, I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, that gym is almost bigger than the old school,’” Williams said. “I went into the office and thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, it’s almost bigger than the old gym.’ When I look at the school, it reminds me of how much the Gateway family has grown.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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