Queens students showcase hard work in and out of school

By Bob Harris

TimesLedger Newspapers prints a special feature every two weeks called “Student of Distinction.” Here are some of its features:

1. Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village has had several Students of Distinction featured in this past school year. On Oct. 11, senior Samantha Lugo was featured as a superb athlete, an academically achieving person and a volunteer for the student government since her freshman year.

Christopher Chung has the distinction of being the president of the Student Government while still being a junior. He is also a member of the Scholar’s Institute, captain of the Robotics Team, on the school Website Team and in the Drama Club.

Aysha Rana was this year’s Arista president, coordinated tutoring for her fellow students, volunteered with the Scholar’s Book Club, participated in the Breast Cancer Walk on Queens Boulevard, volunteered during the summer in the Queens Village Library and worked with Junior Achievement to teach at nearby PS 33.

Jaya Lisa Hariprasad, the valedictorian of the class of 2012, did all the things which the other top students in her class did but also found the time to write stories and obtain photos about events and students in her school, which were printed by TimesLedger.

2. Hillcrest HS in Jamaica is another large academic school in Queens. It achieved an “A” grade this year and has many Students of Distinction. Sharnel Cleary was president of the Student Organization this past year and was involved in student activities such as the blood drive, lupus drive and food drive. As a member of the Humanities Institute, she became involved with the Model United Nations Program. She would like to work for UNESCO someday.

Adrian Alberga was president of the Thespian Club of the Theatre Institute. He helped raise money for the Salvation Army, took part in the August Wilson Monologue Competition and made posters for teachers who had a message they wanted displayed.

Ismael Garnica is the president of the school chapter of Arista and was in the Health Careers Institute. He even started a clothing company. He is a member of HOSA, a nationwide health career organization. He has been a HOSA delegate at conventions in Syracuse, N.Y., where he has won medals for his skills in the epidemiology and job seeking competitions.

3. The Campus Magnet Complex consists of four small high schools in one building in Cambria Heights. The four schools share the building amicably and participate in a Steering Committee chaired by state Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village).

Greg McKenzie, from the Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship HS, was honored as a Student of Distinction for his work as the chief financial officer of the innovative business in his Virtual Enterprise Class. He makes sure the students do all the things which workers would do in a real business, only it is make believe.

Leasa Silvera is a junior in the Humanities and the Arts HS and is president of the Student Council, is captain of the Campus Magnet girls’ soccer team and volunteers in the school library. She has honored her older sister, who died in a hit-and-run accident, with school programs.

Monique Green is a senior in the Law, Government & Community Service HS who is president of the Student Council and is captain of the girls’ track team. She has won first and second place in various meets in the 55-meter and 100-meter dashes and participated in the New York State Games with the team ranking second in the Queens PSAL.

Kierra Williams is the senior class president in the Math, Science Research & Technology HS who has been an intern for the past three years at the North Shore-LIJ hospital, is on the gymnastics team and like many other students has taken college courses through Queensborough Community College.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The city Department of Education has dropped its policy that there should be no social promotion.

It has realized that some students cannot pass tests in elementary and middle school, so there were older students in the sixth- and eighth-grades. Of course, some of these students cannot pass high school academic classes, so they drop out of high school when they are 17.

When will the DOE realize that closing schools like Jamaica HS and “turning around” current high schools by firing half the teachers is not a solution?

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