By Naeisha Rose
Students, teachers, faculty and elected officials gathered in Jamaica last week to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Queens Collegiate: A College Board School.
Queens Collegiate, located at 167-01 Gothic Drive, is one of four college prep schools co-located within the old Jamaica High School building, according to Principal Jaime Dubei, also a co-founder.
“We opened the school as an opportunity for students to learn about different cultures and different people, while having STEM, art and all different programs to help them progress,” Dubei said. “We are also proud to have a full-fledged musical program here as well.”
The school specializes in international affairs. It teaches students from grades six through 12, and has a four-year graduation rate of 87.1 percent and a six-year graduation rate of 91.1 percent.
City Councilman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows), a Jamaica High School graduate, had a few remarks for the school and the principal.
“It was so exciting to come here and walk up those steps in this magnificent building where you felt like you were going to college, not high school,” Weprin said. “You’ve accomplished so much in 10 years.”
After receiving glowing remarks from Assistant Principals Camille Jacobs and Robert McMahon, also a co-founder, recent alum Jeannisha Jasmin and senior Padma Mahabir sang a moving rendition of Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” to the principal inside the Doris Reid Auditorium.
Before the singing had begun, Jacobs read a poem to the principal.
“We rep our QC pride through and through,” Jacobs said. “Ms. Dubei, you sacrifice your family, your time and so much more to change to the world so that students can explore.”
Past Queens Collegiate alums and teachers packed the school and cheered on their former principal.
After Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) arrived during the ceremony, he joined Dubei, the assistant principals and PTA president Annette Brown in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the school. It was something they didn’t get to do when Queens Collegiate opened years ago.
It was a bittersweet moment for state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), a 1976 alum of Jamaica High School, who arrived after the ceremony ended from Albany. His former school was shuttered in 2014 as a result of poor graduation rates. Before the school failed, it was the largest high school in the United States and was a considered a premier secondary school in the mid-1980s, according to the New Yorker.
“I’m glad Queens Collegiate is working and that the building is well utilized,” Comrie said. “I’m still disappointed that Jamaica High School as itself is no longer viable. There are many alumni that would have liked to have had the opportunity to contribute and maintain the viability of the school, but I’m pleased that Queens Collegiate is doing well and that their graduation rate is higher than most high schools in the city.”
Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) allocated $1.12 million in labs and repairs for the school over the years.
“We want every kid in our district to have as much opportunity as possible,” Lancman said. “Queens Collegiate is terrific, but like every school, it needs resources.”
The school received $100,000 for a piano lab in fiscal year 2015, $65,000 in repairs to the auditorium in 2016, and it will receive $955,000 for a science lab in 2018.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose