News stories

Boys and Girls HS celebrates a turning point

Jonathan Fickies

Joining the celebration are (from left) teachers Natasha Venner and Rosalyn Tomlin, PTA member Fred Baptiste and teacher Margaret McNeil-Rosado.

Jonathan Fickies

Paraprofessional Joel Walker (left) clowns around with Chapter Leader Dominique Borgella.

Boys and Girls HS has turned the corner. The once-troubled Brooklyn school has been taken out of state receivership — a designation for long-struggling schools — and out of the city Department of Education’s Renewal Schools program, which the de Blasio administration set up to help struggling schools.

With ascendant graduation rates and test scores and improving attendance, the school on April 11 celebrated “The Return of Academic Excellence” with a ceremony and supper for staff members, students and community leaders in its Bedford-Stuyvesant gymnasium.

“The staff worked hard,” said Chapter Leader Dominique Borgella. “We offer after-school tutoring, Regents boot camp, summer school and more.”

Boys and Girls HS offers students a variety of supports, including college and career preparation as well as crisis intervention and mental health counseling through Good Shepherd Services, its community partner.

“We’ve been through a lot,” said Margaret McNeil-Rosado, who has taught social studies at the school for 27 years. “But every year, we got a little better.”

DOE data shows the four-year graduation rate soared to 73 percent in the 2017–18 school year, up from 50 percent three years ago. The percentage of students who attended school at least 90 percent of the time increased from 40 percent to 52 percent during the same period. The school has about 450 students — 29 percent of whom have special needs — and shares its space with the Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice and the Research and Service HS.

“The High is back,” said Dr. Albert Vann, the co-chair of the school’s Community Advisory Board and emcee of the celebration. Dr. Lester Young, a state Regent-at-large and the other board co-chair, said Boys and Girls HS is now a model of how to turn a school around.

“It was a collaboration,” said Principal Grecian Harrison-Walker, who has led the school for three years. “So many worked together to make sure the students made progress. Everyone played a role.”

Joel Walker graduated from Boys and Girls HS in 2001 and has been a paraprofessional at the school for 10 years. He said the staff was determined to turn the school around.

“If you lived in the neighborhood, it was like your second home,” Walker said. “The fire everyone had in them, no one let the fire go out. We stumbled, but we got back up.”

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