New high schools set for Flushing building

New high schools set for Flushing building
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Joe Anuta

The principals of two new high schools are eager to open within the walls of Flushing HS this fall as part of a controversial co-location program at the troubled institution.

Veritas Academy is one of two schools that will be setting up shop, at the corner of Union Street and Northern Boulevard, and, according to future Principal Cheryl Quatrano, will offer education tailored to each individual student.

“We are going to be a separate, very small, safe and nurturing environment for students who are looking for rigorous education,” she said.

The Veritas Academy will follow a style of education called the Renzulli Model, which Quatrano is already familiar with from her current gig.

Quatrano is the principal of the Bell Academy in Bayside. She describes the model as first assessing a student’s strengths and interests before using those findings to foster a hunger to learn inside each pupil.

“We’ve had such tremendous success over the last several years there has been an outcry for a small high school in the area,” she said.

More than 30 percent of her students who met qualifications were accepted into the city’s elite high schools, a number she said is extremely impressive when compared to other middle schools in the five boroughs.

The high school will eventually cater to Grades 9 through 12 and house about 500 students, and if enough interest is generated will offer bilingual Korean transitional education, but traditional English as a Second Language programs will be available as well.

The other school that will be co-located inside Flushing HS will cater to both Mandarin-speakers and students who want to learn the language.

It is called Queens High School for Language Studies and will be helmed by Principal Melanie Lee.

The school will be composed of half Mandarin speakers who are learning English as a second language, and English-speakers who want to learn Mandarin.

“Our overall mission is to graduate students who are bilingual, proficient in both languages and college-ready,” she said, adding that the model is based on a Manhattan school that was nationally ranked.

But activist John Choe, who runs an area nonprofit and has been a vocal critic of the city Department of Education’s co-location policy, said the opening of the schools is another way the Bloomberg administration is trying to bring down Flushing HS, since its ranks will shrink by about 1,000 students once the new high schools are opened.

The institution was on a list of schools the mayor unsuccessfully tried to close last year.

“We all understand there are problems,” he said, speaking of large comprehensive high schools like Flushing. “But plans to co-locate and reduce enrollment don’t address a fundamental issue — that these schools have been repositories for large concentrations of special-needs students.”

The DOE begged to differ, and said in its proposal that reducing Flushing’s student body will help the administration focus on a smaller number of students.

“There are co-locations in schools across the city and when adults put children first, most are very successful,” said DOE spokesman Devon Puglia.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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