By Rebecca Henely
Two high schools born in the shadow of Long Island City’s LaGuardia Community College will now operate together for the first time.
City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) joined the principals of Middle College and International high schools last Thursday to cut the ribbon on the expansion of Middle College, at 45-35 Van Dam St. in Long Island City.
The expansion not only provided more space for Middle College, but allowed International to move from the rooms leased at LaGuardia Community College and into the building. International HS moved into the expanded space at Van Dam at the beginning of the school year.
“We’re thrilled to be operating in this new building,” said International Principal John Starkey.
The addition to the school cost $27.8 million to build and added 820 seats to the location as well as two science laboratories, a science preparation room, a demonstration room, an art room, a computer room and administrative offices.
“To see this is just a knockout to me,” Nolan said of the new science labs. “We want this in every school in the city.”
Linda Siegmund, principal of Middle College HS, said both her school and International have always been sister schools and focus on students considered at risk. Middle College focuses on helping students who score lower in reading and math than their peers, while International enrolls students who have recently immigrated to New York City from other countries and are learning English.
Both high schools also have a partnership with LaGuardia and were first located at the college across the street, at 31-10 Thomson Ave. She said LaGuardia President Gail Mellow has been supportive of the students, and that not only have students been able to take classes at the college but the faculties of the high schools and the colleges have sometimes taught at the other institution.
“It certainly is a partnership that we actually treasure and value highly,” Siegmund said.
Walcott, who toured the campus after the ribbon-cutting, said in both schools there is a mix of students from the neighborhood and from other countries and that the student bodies benefit from occupying the same space. He praised the city School Construction Authority’s work with the school and predicted the institutions would have no problems being co-located.
“I think it’s an outstanding school,” Walcott said. “The School Construction Authority sees a space. They’re able to design a space or give the space back in a very timely way.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.