Adams on the Rise

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John Adams High School in Ozone Park, N.Y.

John Adams High School in Ozone Park, N.Y. was listed as an Out of Time school by the Department of Education after failing to show improvement in student performance while being part of the School Renewal Program. Being part of the Out of Time program meant that there was a major turnover of staff and that the school’s academic performance was heavily scrutinized. Now, evidence of the program’s success is noted in the way in which John Adams has successfully graduated from a Renewal School to a Rise School, meaning that the extra social service provided for students and their families will be retained, whereas certain extra supports will be reduced over time. While the school will face less scrutiny from this point on, the Education Department will continue to focus on its improvement.

“Being that John Adams High School is the only large high school in New York to have graduated from a Renewal to a Rise School,” Principal Daniel Scanlon said, “this is evidence of hard work from everyone at Adams of which we should all be proud.” To him, this advancement means moving the school a step closer to where it needs to be in terms of the required graduation rate. When asked about the title of a ‘Renewal School’ being a stigma for Adams, the principal highlighted how the program was not originally formulated to be viewed this way, but it was meant to be a system of extra support for the schools that needed it.

“Due to politics, it received this reputation by those who were against Mayor de Blasio and wanted to see the schools shut down,” Scanlon explained before declaring that this was not the final step for Adams, but a path to ensuring that the school graduates completely from the Rise School Program.

Tarek Alamarie, a former student of Adams and the current Assistant Principal of Guidance and Data, says that the school has a 71 percent graduation rate. The city’s average is 74 percent, showing a significant representation of Adams’ achievements as the gap remaining to be filled is a considerably small one.

“When I was a student at John Adams, the graduation rate was 42 percent,” Alamarie explained to emphasize how far the school has come. Adams has proven to be resolute in its battle to educate the young minds of New York. A point that Alamarie thought was worth noting was how the majority of the students attending the school were from all over the world where English is not the spoken language. He found it admirable how these students came to the United States of America, completed examinations like the Regents, and graduated in four to five years all the while trying to fight the language barrier surrounding them.

Regarding the implementations made to ensure that the school would be promoted and eventually be taken out of the program completely, Warren Kaufman, the Assistant Principal of Organization, spoke of the new strategies which were introduced to the school such as tutoring, WITsi, PBIS (Positive Behavior, Interventions and Supports), and a longer school day. He reported how funding was used for laptop carts, JROTC, athletic gear for the many sports teams, Robotics, Kinvolved, Virtual Reality and multiple other programs.

To further encourage students to make use of the school’s library, especially during the summer time, air conditioning systems will be installed. Principal Scanlon mentioned that if a student was asked a few years ago how they felt about John Adams, they would tell you it was like a prison to them.  For this very reason, he has put in work to guarantee that students never feel this way again; he aims to create an atmosphere that is pleasant and yet supportive of education.