Photo by : Caroll Alvarado
By Rich Bockmann

Educators are hoping the third time is a charm for the institution some in southeast Queens still refer to as Andrew Jackson High School.

City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and the city Department of Education’s partners were on hand at the Campus Magnet complex in Cambria Heights Tuesday morning for an opening ceremony for a new health school, the third major incarnation of the notorious Andrew Jackson High.

“All the students who are here today, we expect you to graduate in four years,” Walcott told the pupils who will make up the inaugural class of the Institute for Health Professions, a career technical education school set to open next month, at 207-01 116th St.

The school was approved in March by the city Panel for Educational Policy, which voted to phase in one grade a year until the 2016 school year as it simultaneously phases out two low-performing high schools at the campus: Law, Government & Community Service and Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship.

The schools were created in 1994, when the then-Board of Education broke Andrew Jackson High down into four smaller, thematic schools.

Andrew Jackson had a notorious reputation for violence and drug use, along with poor graduation rates. In 1992, the school had a four-year graduation rate of 31 percent.

The two other schools borne out of the ashes of Andrew Jackson have watched their four-year rates climb to more than 70 percent, while the rates of students graduating on time from LGCS and BCAE were at or below 43 percent in 2012, the latest year the for which the city has data.

The Institute for Health Professions and its partners, which include Hofstra University and the North Shore-LIJ Health System, are hoping the school’s support system will help push students to achieve.

“Career-technical education prepares students for college and careers through integration of rigorous academic and workforce skills through connections with industry and higher education, said Gerry House, president of the Institute for Student Achievement, a nonprofit that partners with about 60 schools in the city going through some kind of transformation.

Upon graduation, students earn a certification either as an emergency medical technician or nursing assistant through a collaboration with the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.

Principal Gareth Robinson told the inaugural class that the support they receive will give them a leg up after four years.

“When you graduate you will walk out with an industry-standard certification and real-world experience that will make you highly competitive for jobs and college,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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