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Meeks funds program to diversify specialized high school

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 2/9/2012, 12:39 p.m.

In an effort to help diversify one of Southeast Queens' specialized high schools, Rep. Gregory Meeks is providing funds for a preparation course.

Meeks recently presented a check for $5,000 to the Queens High School for the Sciences at York College for classes to help students in the predominately Black neighborhood of Jamaica prepare for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. Meeks said that the principal of the high school, Dr. David Marmor, wants to serve more students who live in the community.

"We wanted give individuals a hand up by letting them enroll in a program that helps them take the test to help them admit them to the school," said Meeks. "Here's an opportunity for kids to get involved in science, and we wanted to make sure we play a huge part."

The school is partnering with Matt Bardin, founder and president of Veritas and co-author of "Zen and the Art of the SAT," for the classes. Meeks added that the program will sponsor 30 students for the course and that the money will cover basic costs.

"When you look at the people in the community, we should be giving everybody as much of a hand to diversify so that these specialized schools have a good representation of students of color," said Meeks.

Queens High School for the Sciences was named the 32nd best math and science high school in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in 2011. It is often credited with having high graduation rates, Regents test scores and attendance. Students who attend the school have gone on to Harvard, Columbia and St. John's University.

Meeks is credited with bringing the Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) to York College in the first place. The program, developed by NASA, brings students into the field of science and follows them from elementary school to high school. SEMAA has served over 12,500 students since 1999.