New Healthcare High School Coming to Queens: Northwell School Admissions Will Not Be Screened, Will Prioritize Queens Residents

By Celia Bernhardt | [email protected] 

Rendering of what Northwell School of Health Sciences will look like. Courtesy of School Construction Authority

A new kind of high school is coming to Queens.

Northwell Health and New York City Public Schools announced on Feb. 14 that they plan to collaborate on a first-of-its-kind school designed to prepare students for well-paying jobs in the healthcare field — the Northwell School of Health Sciences. The school is slated to open on Northern Boulevard in Woodside in September 2024.

The high school’s admission process will prioritize Queens residents, and will not use screened admissions, according to a DOE spokesperson.

Supported by a $2.49 million investment from former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies, the school will serve about 900 students at full capacity. Its curriculum will be co-developed by Northwell and the NYC Public Schools, and is set to include specialized healthcare coursework, work-based learning opportunities, industry-standard training facilities, career mentorship, and opportunities to earn industry certifications and credentials alongside more traditional academic offerings. Freshman and sophomores will have access to job-shadowing programs, while upperclassmen will have the opportunity to complete paid clinical internships.

Students will be able to specialize in either nursing, diagnostic medicine, physical therapy, or behavioral health. A press release from Northwell stated that these paths were selected based on “the availability of entry-level salaries that either offer a living wage or are a clear steppingstone to living wage positions,” as well as the projected workforce needs in New York’s healthcare industry. The idea is to graduate students directly into high-demand, family-sustaining jobs, while also creating a talent pipeline to address healthcare workforce shortages—New York is expected to face a shortage of 40,000 nurses by 2030, according to Northwell, and the healthcare sector accounts for 20% of the city’s ecnooomy.

The new  Woodside school is one of ten that Bloomberg plans to open in urban and rural areas throughout the nation. A $250 million initiative overall, the organization is set to launch healthcare career-training high schools in Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Durham, Houston, Nashville, Philadelphia, Demopolis, and Northeast Texas. The schools should seat approximately 6,000 students all together.

“For too long, our education system has failed to prepare students for good jobs in high-growth industries,” said Bloomberg. “By combining classroom learning with hands-on experience, these specialized health-care high schools will prepare students for careers with opportunities for growth and advancement. America needs more health care workers, and we need a stronger, larger middle-class — and this is a way to help accomplish both goals.”

3-Alarm Maspeth Fire Injures Seven

By Celia Bernhardt | [email protected]

A three-alarm fire broke out in Maspeth on Monday, displacing families from a two-story residential building on 60th Rd between Mt. Olivet Crescent and Fresh Pond Road.

The FDNY received the call at 11:52 a.m. The blaze spread from its source to a connected home, doing major damage to both properties. It took a crew of 140 about an hour and a half to get the blaze under control.

A mother and two children were briefly trapped in one of the homes before being rescued by firefighters.

Five residents and two firefighters sustained minor injuries, including one firefighter who fell into the basement of the house as the floor partially collapsed. All were sent to local hospitals for evaluation as a precaution except one resident, who refused medical attention.

The Red Cross was on the scene, as well as Assemblyman Juan Ardila, the NYPD, and other agencies.

Credit: Celia Bernhardt

FDNY Deputy Chief of the 14th Division Mark Cuccurullo said that lithium-ion batteries were present on the scene, but had been kept in the backyard, outside of the home. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“Fire Marshals haven’t determined the cause of it. They’ve ruled out that it was a lithium battery,” Cuccurullo said.

He explained that the investigation would involve draining the basement of excess water used to quell the flames before determining the source of the fire.

15-year-old Brianna Paguay, who lives close to the impacted homes, said her aunt was among those who lived in the building.

“She’s kind of sad, crying, because of her stuff. We had money in there also, like over $50,000 in cash,” Paguay said. “And all of that got burnt down. All of the clothing, shoes, all of that.”

Interim Chief Executive Officer for the Greater New York Red Cross Celena Sarillo said that her team was working on identifying people’s needs.

“We’ll be able to help them with a place to stay, possibly some other types of financial assistance, you know, some comfort kits that just have the basic needs — people that clearly ran out of the home have absolutely nothing and left with nothing. So just trying to even give them their toothbrush, soap, you know, so other things that they might need for the few days ahead of them,” Sarillo said. “It is usually immediate, temporary assistance. We hope to at least be able to give people that first or second day of help until they can find a long term housing solution.”

Credit: Celia Bernhardt

Paguay said her aunt had only lived in the house for a couple months after moving from further East in the borough. “Now she has to look for a new place…She moved over here because she thought, ‘Nice neighborhood,” Paguay said. “Material is material, you can get new clothing and stuff like that. But it’s just the money we had there, it’s a bunch of money and it’s all gone. It’s their savings from their hard work.”

35-year-old Esthefanie Giordano, who lives a block away from the impacted houses, said she made sure to touch base with some of the families impacted by the fire.

“I’m just connecting with them because they are Latin, as I am as well. They didn’t speak English — at least this family doesn’t. So I just wanted to connect them with a bunch of resources.”

Giordano told the Queens Ledger over email that Assemblyman Juan Ardila had created a WhatsApp group with the affected families, and advised those interested in donating to contact him.

A GoFundMe for one affected family, the Pazminos, had collected $3,190 out of its $50,000 goal at press time.

“I think the community— I think we’re in need of another fire workshop,” Giordano said. “These are old houses, so they tend to be very flammable.”

“Always keep a lookout, you know, you never know when you could come of use and of assistance to others,” she added. “This can happen to literally anyone and everyone.”

Update: A new GoFundMe was created by Esperanza de Vida Church to provide support to all families affected. As of Thursday, Feb. 22, $1,390 of its’ $50,000 goal was raised.

POL POSITION: Drugged Driving Battle Heating Up

While we visited the State Capital Monday, we were greeted with unexpected Senate passion for a few legislative initiatives we see as important. First; The Drugged Driving Bill is picking up steam. Senator Mannion and Woodhaven’s native son Senator Joe Addabbo are fighting to get this bill into law. It would essentially make it illegal to drive impaired on marijuana.

What, you say?

It’s not illegal now?


The State’s definition of impairment is tied to alcohol, not drugs.

Crazy, right?

Well there is another side to this. There are those legislators who don’t trust law enforcement, and giving cops any more ability to stop and arrest someone is seen as violating the right to live free.

Hey, we’re all about being voluntarily impaired. But stay home!

Second, we were impressed to see Woodside’s freshman Assemblyman, Steven Raga speak about, and sign on to a bill that supports community media. QPTV, BRIC and Bronx Net happened to be up on Albany getting talking on what they see as a change that could put them out of business in 5-years. Cable companies have funded their existence since the mid 80’s. Their multiple cable TV channels are basically the only place for people to find out what is going on at their local library, the many cultural places in the boroughs and even community board meeting listings.

Readers can find them in our papers too, but community media like public access TV is essential to fund. ‘Cord Cutting’ has led to a lack of funding and while other states have had an excise tax (one which can not be passed along to the consumer) on streaming services we have none. Part of that tax goes to public access networks.

Public Access broadcast agencies operate programs that teach regular people to use professional video equipment to produce videos for a public need. Those videos are used on their channels. One producer, Dr. JJ Abularrage, is a doctor out of NY Presbyterian Queens. He spoke quite passionately about how his work as a producer with QPTV was essential for his passion on doctor/patient relationship. “I could not have set up these learning videos for the doctors at my hospital without QPTV,” he said. “I know it saved lives.”

“I love BRIC,” said Greenpoint Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher. “Community media is essential.”

Glad to see the support of a bunch of other Senators and Assembly members who spoke about their support at the press conference on the 4th floor of the Senate area.

IN OUR OPINION: The Perfect Storm For The Migrant Violence

Migration to NYC is nothing new. In the 1800’s, early 1900’s and during the wars in Europe, people fled here for a multitude of reasons. We just handled it better. The immigrants came to New York then, just as they are now.

It’s been nearly two years since this new migrant crisis started. Just like it was in the early 1900’s and Ellis Island, new people are arriving daily, if not weekly.

Here’s the difference; we had a plan.

Similar to other times when migrants came here, many people are able to live with relatives. Although it creates a housing problem in many neighborhoods where people are living in spaces meant for far less people, there are still many migrants who are in our migrant housing programs for housing.

It’s living in shelters. It’s living on Randall’s Island, Floyd Bennett Field, at the Roosevelt Hotel and we know there are dozens of other shelters.

The perfect storm has arrived. In perfect storm situations Mother Nature takes over and an inertia is created that can’t really be stopped.

The perfect storm in the migrant crisis results in migrant-on-migrant violence, a lack of regard for police – leading an even more dangerous lack of respect for anyone.

They can’t work, they have little to do but hang out in public spaces, just watching, wondering and waiting. And since it’s been nearly two years it has reached a perfect storm where migrant gangs grow and a crime wave persists.

While, for the last year or so, we have been worrying about retail stores closing because criminals know they can’t be prosecuted, the migrant community has now realized that ‘thuggary’ might be the only way to survive at the moment.

We don’t entirely blame bail reform. We can’t entirely lame the mayor for calling migrants here. We remember when he exclaimed, “We’ll take em.”

We can’t entirely blame the legislature for hot figuring out a way they can get work visas. It’s everything … all at once.

Middle Village Bagels Named Best Bagel in Queens

Middle Village Bagels, located at 79-16 Eliot Ave, was named Queens’ Best Bagel by the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

The nomination process included over 55 of Queens’ top bagel shops in a public vote. Over 3,000 bagel connoisseurs across the borough cast their votes in what the Queens Chamber of Commerce called the “closest vote of all the competitions.”

Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz awards Middle Village Bagels ownership with a certificate.

The owners of Middle Village Bagel and Chamber President Tom Grech were joined by Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz at the shop to award the top bagel business a plaque and certificate of their new title.

The Queens Chamber of Commerce has held similar vote competitions to name the best taco, best pizza, best empanadas and best barbecue in the borough. Voters ranked Utopia Bagels and Rockaway Bagels second and third respectively in the competition.

The winning bagels. Courtesy Queens Chamber of Commerce

The Woodhaven Beat: Warmer Days Ahead in Forest Park

By Ed Wendell

With this week’s wintry mix, you can be forgiven if Spring and Summer seem miles away, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about good times and warmer weather. And once you start thinking about good weather, your thoughts naturally turn to everyone’s warm weather friend, Forest Park.

The Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society is teaming up with The Forest Park Trust and Councilwoman Joann Ariola to celebrate a pair of historic centennials on Saturday, June 15th as both the Seuffert Bandshell and the Forest Park Carousel turn 100 this year. (The rain date for this celebration is Saturday, June 22nd).

First we’ll celebrate the Carousel by renaming the corner of Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive “Forest Park Carousel Way.” And then The Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society is celebrating the Carousel’s centennial in a big way by sponsoring free rides on this beautiful New York City Landmark from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

At the same time, there will be a daylong celebration of the bandshell’s centennial including Art, Music and more! We will have a DJ on stage all afternoon, playing music from local artists and we’ll also have a few performances and also a poetry hour.

And then, to help celebrate the anniversary and Flag Day, Councilwoman Joann Ariola is sponsoring a patriotic concert by the Queens Symphony Orchestra at 5 p.m.

The Forest Park Bandshell has an interesting history. Back in 1923, the wooden bandstand in Forest Park was less than 10 years old but was already showing signs of decline and was not large enough to hold all the musicians from any decent-sized band.

he George Seuffert, Sr. Bandshell in Forest Park on the day that it opened nearly 100 years ago, on June 15th, 1924. The Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society, The Forest Park Trust and Councilwoman Joann Ariola are joining forces to throw a big centennial celebration for both the bandshell and the carousel on June 15th, 2024, exactly 100 years to the day the bandshell was opened.

Mr. Harry Tourte of the Homestead Civic Association of Woodhaven was leading the effort to bring more live music to Forest Park. NYC Mayor John Hylan challenged Woodhaven, and Tourte himself, to prove that it would support a brand new, modern bandstand.

When an estimated 10,000 people turned up in Forest Park for a concert the Mayor was attending, the case was successfully made that a new bandstand was needed and plans were underway. When it opened on June 15th, 1924, the Forest Park Bandstand was said to be one of the finest in the United States, showcasing the latest achievements in acoustical science.

Sadly, Mr. Tourte didn’t live long enough to see the finished product he’d fought so hard for. He passed away a few months before it opened and the bandstand was dedicated in his memory. Today, there isn’t a sign or a marker noting Mr. Tourte’s contribution to our community but we are happy to report that his family will be in attendance for the centennial.

And during the entire day, The Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society is sponsoring “The Woodhaven Art Market,” an art show/sale featuring a group of talented local artists.

Mahfuza Shammy Rahman and Jennifer Lambert, two founding members of the Woodhaven Art Circle, are lending their talents to organize this exciting artistic endeavor.

“During the pandemic art really was an outlet for me and helped me process everything that was happening,” Rahman (who goes professionally by the name MSR) says. “We are past that, but there are still many things happening in the world that are incomprehensible, and again I turn to art to give and receive hope, to understand myself and to reach out to my communities.”

Mahfuza Shammy Rahman and Jennifer Lambert, two founding members of the Woodhaven Art Circle, will be organizing “The Woodhaven Art Market,” an Art Show / Sale on June 15th, 2024, during the dual centennial celebrations of the Forest Park Bandshell and the Forest Park Carousel.

Lambert also sees this as a great opportunity to reach out and meet local artists. “As a resident raising a family in Queens, I’m overjoyed to help provide this great opportunity for local artists to have their work seen in such a wonderful, beautiful and historic setting!”

The deadline for artists to apply for this event is April 15th, 2024. We are seeking painters, photographers, sculptors, jewelry makers, artisans, and printmakers. We are also looking for local musicians (recorded music from local artists will be played from the stage throughout the day, not performed live). Artists will keep 100% of the proceeds from their sales.

If you’re interested in applying, contact us at [email protected] and we’ll send you the entry form.

It may be chilly and frosty outside but it’s never too soon to turn our thoughts to warmer days in Forest Park. And this double centennial celebration is just around the corner!

Right Turn Signal Installed in the Intersection that Took Crossing Guard Krystyna Naprawa’s Life

By Celia Bernhardt | [email protected]

Months after the tragic death of Krystyna Naprawa, a crossing guard who was killed by a sanitation truck on Woodhaven Boulevard, a change has come to the intersection where she lost her life.

The city’s Department of Transportation has installed a right turn signal in the lane where the truck that struck Naprawa was turning from. Sam Esposito, head of the Ozone Park Residents Block Association, says he began urging DOT to make the change the morning Naprawa was killed.

“As soon as she died, I went to the scene and I looked at it, and the first thing I saw was that this needed to have a right turn signal,” Esposito said.

Naprawa died on Oct. 20, 2023, working her usual morning shift at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue. A vigil was held by the intersection days later, where family, friends, and community leaders gathered to mourn the sudden loss.

“We reached out to our DOT Commissioner. We said, ‘Look, this needs to be looked at ASAP. We don’t want an 18-month study. We want this fast-tracked because we believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg for somebody else that could die,’” Esposito continued. “For once, DOT actually agreed and fast-tracked it. This is the fastest DOT has ever responded to anything we’ve ever asked.”

The new turn signal. Courtesy of Sam Esposito

The turn signal will only flash amber, not green, signaling to cars and trucks to look carefully and move slowly. When other lanes have a green light, the right turn signal will remain red for an initial period before turning amber. Esposito says this delay will give crossing guards more time to get kids safely out of the street if they haven’t yet finished crossing, and get themselves to safety, before cars turn the corner.

“I don’t want to place the blame on anybody, but I think someone dropped the ball when they installed the three lanes—one going right, one going straight, one going left—and they didn’t take into consideration that that’s a truck route,” Esposito said. “There should have been a right turn signal there all along.”

In a Facebook post, Esposito credited Community Board 9 District Manager James McClelland, DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, and the block association’s advisor Darma Diaz as particularly helpful in pushing for the turn signal.

“NYC DOT is committed to improving safety along Atlantic Avenue—both in Brooklyn and Queens,” a DOT spokesperson said in a statement to the Queens Ledger. “We will continue to explore future safety upgrades across the corridor.”

Esposito said the block association also requested the Southwest corner of the intersection to be renamed after Naprawa, but that he expected that process to take longer.

Krystyna Naprawa.

Is The New 2024 Hyundai Kona A Better Small SUV Companion Than Its Predecessor?

In the realm of sleek subcompact SUVs boasting a fusion of style and substance, the Hyundai Kona reigns supreme as the epitome of value and sophistication. Offering a harmonious blend of chic aesthetics, top-tier features, and economical powertrain options, the Kona emerges as an excellent choice for any shopper looking for a modern small SUV.

We’ve meticulously curated an article to provide you with comprehensive information about the specifications and features of the 2024 Hyundai Kona. Here, we’ll guide you through all the talking points of this newly redesigned 2024 model.

Stunning New Design

With a recent redesign marking its entry into the new model year, the Hyundai Kona stands tall as a symbol of contemporary automotive excellence. Seamlessly marrying cutting-edge design with practicality presents an irresistible option for discerning buyers seeking a small SUV that exudes modernity and innovation.

Improved Interior Room

The all-new Kona has a slightly longer wheelbase and a stretched body length than its predecessor. This translates to a more spacious interior with improved headroom and legroom for both seat row seats and more cargo space.

Classed-up Cabin With More High-tech Features

The previous generation’s interior design was all right, but the 2024 redesign remains a massive upgrade. The all-new Kona boasts a streamlined interior design with a reimagined dashboard and retro-inspired controls. One of the most significant changes is the introduction of a column-mounted shifter, which replaces the traditional gearshift lever in the outgoing model. All trims now come standard with a high-definition 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display, while a 12.3-inch reconfigurable digital display is optional. Other optional features include synthetic leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, surround view monitor, an eight-speaker Bose audio system, eight-way power-adjustable seats, etc.

New Transmission, Slightly Less Playful

Despite the Kona’s ground-up redesign, the Korean automaker has opted to carry over engines from the previous model into 2024. The entry-level engine remains a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out 147 ponies and 132 lb-ft of torque. It pairs with a continuously variable automatic transmission and front- or all-wheel drive. Also, a 2.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 190 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque is still optional. However, Hyundai has dropped the last generation’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission in favor of an eight-speed automatic transmission. This change reduces the Kona’s zero-to-60 time by 0.2 seconds.

The newly redesigned Hyundai Kona is not just a beauty to behold; it’s also one of the best small crossovers you can acquire in 2024. To lease the all-new Kona or any other 2024 model in Hyundai’s extensive lineup, VIP Auto Lease is your most reliable choice. We offer mouthwatering prices, top-rated car and financial experts, swift delivery, and a slew of programs to help shoppers with low credit scores.

Visit 1204 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10305 for more info.

Hospital Mural by Jamaica Artist Unveiled

By Celia Bernhardt | [email protected]

A new mural featuring soft colors and detailed flowers stretches along the main atrium of NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens.

The mural was designed by artist Zeehan Wazed, and brought to life through a community painting party in the hospital. Wazed developed the design with the help of multiple focus groups where community members, patients, and hospital staff gave their input. Named Roots of Medicine, the painting was unveiled on Nov. 15.

The mural is one of nine painted in NYC Health + Hospitals locations just this year. It is part of the Community Mural Project, powered by the hospitals’ Arts in Medicine department. 26 murals were already created in a previous wave of the initiative. According to NYC Health + Hospitals, The Community Mural Project is the nation’s largest public hospital mural program since the Great Depression’s Works Progress Administration worked to commission murals in public buildings.

Wazed himself hails from Jamaica, Queens—he grew up just a few blocks away from the hospital that now sports his artwork. His parents still live there, though Wazed now resides in Astoria.

“I have a personal story with Queens hospital,” Wazed said. “When I was young, my dad took me [because] I broke my fingers. So using the same fingers to paint that mural—it kind of felt like it came in full circle.”

Roots of Medicine speaks to the long history of healing in different human societies, depicting eight flowers used in traditional homeopathic treatments: calendula, lavender, chamomile, echinacea, flax seeds, rose petals, St. John’s Wort, and nasturtium.

A great deal of thought went into the design. Although Wazed himself is not involved in the medical field, his sister is, and he said that his conversations both with her and with the hospital board were critical.

“Speaking to my sister, who’s pretty blunt with me—she was like, we deal with a lot of patients and sickness. To have something that reflects another aspect of recovery or medicine would be great. And also Dr. Stein, on the board of the hospitals, she wanted something that really represented not sickness, but rather life. And jubilance of life, you know? I think flowers are a great symbol of that. I think they’re very welcoming as well.”

Wazed mentioned that the flowers evoke the diversity of communities in Queens, and pointed out the green, vine-like patterned lines criss-crossing through the mural.

“There’s lines that intertwine to represent our communities, and how we’re all kind of connected.”

Wazed is appreciative of his upbringing in Jamaica’s tight-knit Bangladeshi population. “It’s an amazing community,” he said. “You can see this kind of support system that people find within their communities, at their mosque, at their library.”

“I think it’s pretty fitting that, you know, I come back to do something at Queens Hospital where there’s a lot of Bangladeshi staff as well,” he added.

Wazed has been working as an artist for about a decade. Though some of his work is in the world of canvas and galleries, he dove headfirst into public works during the pandemic.

“It’s definitely been a more humbling experience,” he reflected. “We don’t really have galleries out in Queens…but for the time being, it’s been amazing, creating public art for people who would never walk into a gallery, who just happened to walk by it and connect with it in that sense.”

Wazed’s next project is a mural in JFK. Beyond that, he plans to continue painting vibrant, public murals throughout his home borough. “I feel like I have some sort of mission here to help try to beautify Queens.”

Wazed is invested in the bigger picture of the borough’s relationship with the arts.

“I think there’s somewhat of a dearth of art in Queens,” he said, pointing out that there seem to be fewer gallery and museum spaces.

“There’s so much culture here. And I feel like it should be reflected with vibrant art.”

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