City’s graduation rate flat for Class of 2011; Just 21% leave high school on time and prepared for college

The city's graduation rate stayed stubbornly flat for the Class of 2011 following several years of increases. State education figures released Monday showed just 61% of city students graduated from high school on time, the same as the previous year. “There’s a lot to be proud of in terms of the progress that the city has made over the last few years,” said state Education Commissioner John King. “Certainly, there’s also a lot of distance left to travel between where the city is and where we would all hope the graduation rates would be.” The state has raised the bar on earning a diploma over the last few years, requiring students to pass more Regents exams. That rising bar could negatively impact graduation rates for the students in the future. They must pass five state-issued Regents exams in order to earn a high school diploma.  Just 53% of city students in the Class of 2011 passed all five exams. Twenty city high schools, including Bronx Guild High School and Manhattan’s Choir Academy, had a 20-point gap between their graduation rate and the Regents diploma rate in 2011, raising the possibility their graduation rates could plummet sharply.  City officials downplayed the flat graduation rate announced Monday. “Yes, the numbers are going to go up and down slightly, but look at the whole trend,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “You're talking about one year. Over 10 years they keep going up. And take a look at the graduation rates before we took office. For a decade and a half they were steady. C’mon!” The dropout rate remained 12% — the same as the prior year. Education reform advocates didn’t share Bloomberg’s enthusiasm. “This is the same ridiculousness every year. They congratulate themselves every year,” said Coalition for Educational Justice parent leader Zakiyah Ansari. “There has been no improvement.” Continue Reading

Bronx teen grows food on mini-farm on plot right next to his high school

From his family's farm on the island of Jamaica to the streets of New York, one Bronx student is finally establishing roots - right outside his high school. Basilous Falconer has turned an abandoned patch of land into a miniature farm and garden where chickens lay eggs and red-tailed hawks forage for food outside the Bronx Guild High School in Soundview. Falconer is being recognized for his work tomorrow at the fourth annual "Let Us Eat Local" awards ceremony in Manhattan, whose honorees also include Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). It's being hosted by nonprofit organization Just Food. Bronx Guild science teacher Bill Lynam says he always had a grand vision for the neglected nursery, but was waiting for the right green thumb to come along and commit to the work full time. "It was just a heap of invasive weeds and trees" for more than a decade, said Lynam as he looked out at the revitalized garden on Lafayette Ave., overflowing with greenery and trees such as mulberry, cotton and black walnut. "When you let a zone go wild, most of it is surprise after surprise," he added proudly. Falconer, 19, said he is still getting used to the Big Apple after arriving in 2008 from St. Thomas, Jamaica, with his parents, three sisters and twin brother. He grew up on a 5-acre farm, which explains his devotion to the half-acre garden - he goes there every day, including weekends - and the ease with which he scoops up one of the nine clucking chickens that cross his path. "This place reminds me a lot of Jamaica. The garden was a way of life," said the soft-spoken senior. "When I came here," he said, "I was surprised: There was concrete everywhere - barely any wilderness - and a lot of kids were surprised that things could grow that they could eat." Falconer and his classmates grow peppers, onions, tomatoes, basil, parsley, carrots and other vegetables and herbs on the school grounds. In an enclave nestled in the forestry, bees swarm to a honeycomb. Continue Reading

Tues. 2/24 Death Notices

ACHILLI—Raymond J., a resident of Westchester, passed away on February 21, 2009. He was 67 years old. Raymond was the loving husband of Deborah. Dear father of Nicole Vitale and Jordan. Cherished grandfather of Andie Grace and Joseph. Devoted brother of Deon Kauffmann. Funeral Service will be held Wednesday, 10:45 A.M. at the funeral home, with entombment to follow at Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, NY. The family will be present on Tuesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 P.M. at F. RUGGIERO & SONS, INC., 732 Yonkers Ave., Yonkers, NY 10704, 914-375-1400. BOLSTER—James. Died 2/17/09. Retired member of Steamfitters Local 638. Officers and members of Local 638 extend to the family of our deceased Brother our deepest sympathy. John J. Torpey, President James P. Elder, Sec'y./Treas. BRESLIN—Edward Francis, age 70, on February 22, 2009. Beloved husband of the late JoAnn. Dedicated father of Peter and Eddie. Loving grandfather of Paige, Erin and Eddie. Visitation at John J. Fox & Sons, Inc., 203 E. 201st St., Bronx, NY, on Wed. 2-5 & 7-9 PM. Funeral Mass at St. Philip Neri Church, 3025 Grand Concourse Bronx, NY on Thurs. 11 AM. From the muckstick to the i-beam, and everything in between, an American working class hero, his roots proud, strong and Emerald Green. KORENGOLD—Edna Gerler. With great sadness, the family and friends of EDNA GERLER KORENGOLD, mourn her loss. Born December 5, 1919 in New York City, Edna died in Naples, Florida on February 22, 2009 of cardiac failure. She is survived by her devoted husband, Marvin Korengold; sons, George Korengold, Danny Korengold and Tommy Korengold; and daughter, Karen Twible. "Grandma" of ten grandchildren, Adam, Erin, Maddy, Kara, Lizey, Meggie, Meredith, Will, Kendall and Greer; and great-grandmother to four, Maeve, Sam, Dylan and Benjamin. Educated at Wadleigh High School and New York University, Edna was an avid reader who provided numerous recordings for the blind. Continue Reading

Sun. 11/30 Death Notices

DONOHOE-Edward (Ned), on 11/27/2008. Devoted husband of the late Annie Marie. Devoted father of Elizabeth O'Connor & Eamon Donohoe. Adored grandfather of Caitlin, Erin & Ciaran O'Connor, Aoife, Eddie, and Orla Donohoe. Dear brother of Beezie, Nan, Paesie, & the late Alice. Friends may call on Sunday, 2-5 & 7-9PM at CHAS. PETER NAGEL, Inc., 352 E. 87th St., NYC. Mass of Christian Burial Monday, 10AM, St. Stephen of Hungary R.C. Church. Burial at St. Raymond's Cemetery. Donations in his memory may be made to Hospice of Palm Beach Co., Florida. KELLY-Margaret V. (nee MacFarland) on November 29, 2008 in her 103rd year. Beloved wife of the late James. Devoted mother of Pat Fitzgerald, Violet Murphy and James Kelly. Cherished grandmother of 10 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. Loving sister of Peter MacFarland. Reposing TODAY at MCNULTY FUNERAL HOME INC., 3006 Middletown Rd., BX from 2-5 & 7-9 P.M. Mass of Christian Burial Monday 10 A.M., Our Lady of the Assumption Church. Interment Gate of Heaven Cemetery. PERRONE-Madeline on November 27, 2008, age 96, of Corona, N.Y. Beloved wife of the late Anthony. Loving mother of Rosario and Salvatore (Vera). Cherished grandmother of Anthony, James, Lisa O'Blenes (Stephen), and Melissa Henry (Bill). Proud great-grandmother of Sydney and A.J. Visiting OYSTER BAY FUNERAL HOME, 261 South St., Oyster Bay. Funeral Mass Tuesday, 10:00 A.M., St. Gertrude R.C. Church, Bayville, L.I. Interment Mt. St. Mary's Cemetery, Flushing, N.Y. For further information visit RUGGIERO-Vincent L. Ruggiero, Sr. a lifelong resident of Bronx, NY, died in his sleep Thanksgiving morning, Thursday, November 27, 2008. He was 84 years old. Born in the Belmont section of the Bronx on July 14, 1924, he was the son of the late Louis and the late Amelia Acampora Ruggiero. A third generation NYS funeral director, he grew up above his family's funeral home, a business established by his grandfather, Francesco in Continue Reading

Sat. 11/29 Death Notices

CANN-Patricia A. On 11/28/2008. Beloved wife of the late John J. Loving mother of John and his wife Lisa. Survived by many brothers & sisters. Reposing M.V. COSGROVE & SON CHAPELS, 5723-5th Ave., Brooklyn. Mass of Christian Burial at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Tuesday 9:30 A.M. Interment Calverton Cemetery. CMAR-Mary Ann. On 11/26/08. Beloved wife of John P. Devoted mother of Mary Ann Capeci, John, Beverly, Marilyn and Brenda Jackson (Joe). Loving grandmother of John (Jackie) and Justin Capeci, Erica and Allison Jackson. Dear great grandmother of Gianna and Dina Capeci. Fond sister of William Bartes, Evelyn Bryant and Rita and Harry Bartes. Reposing JOHN KRTIL FUNERAL HOME, 1297 First Ave., NYC, Sunday 2-4 & 7-9 P.M. Mass of Christian Burial Monday, 10:00 A.M. at St. Catherine of Siena Church, 411 E. 68 St., NYC. Interment Calvary Cemetery. DIANA-Michele on November 26, 2008. Beloved wife of Rico. Cherished mother of Michele (Steven) Villani, Nicole (Jason) Klett and Rico (Rosemarie). Loving grandmother to Gianna Villani. She is survived by her siblings Frances (Frank) Nardulli, Vincent (Andrea) Cea & Frank Cea, Jr. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday, 9:30 A.M. St. Benedict's Church, Bronx,. Entombment to follow at St. Raymond's Cemetery. DONOHOE-Edward (Ned), on 11/27/2008. Devoted husband of the late Annie Marie. Devoted father of Elizabeth O'Connor & Eamon Donohoe. Adored grandfather of Caitlin, Erin & Ciaran O'Connor, Aoife, Eddie, and Orla Donohoe. Dear brother of Beezie, Nan, Paesie, & the late Alice. Friends may call on Sunday, 2-5 & 7-9PM at CHAS. PETER NAGEL, Inc., 352 E. 87th St., NYC. Mass of Christian Burial Monday, 10AM, St. Stephen of Hungary R.C. Church. Burial at St. Raymond's Cemetery. Donations in his memory may be made to Hospice of Palm Beach Co., Florida. FOPPIANO-Theresa (nee Gardella), on November 28, 2008. Beloved wife of the late Dulfino. Loving mother of Catherine Continue Reading

The Met reaches out to NYC schoolkids

Hey, parents! Thought opera wasn't for kids? The Metropolitan Opera wants you to think again. In a new initiative to bring the high-priced performance art to the masses, the Met has partnered with the city's Department of Education to beam opera "Live in High Definition" into a school in every borough, as well as local movie houses. And for a second year in a row, the glittering opera house has opened its doors to students at a discount, or even for free. On Dec. 21, some 2,500 enthralled city students packed the elegant theater to see the final dress rehearsal of "Hansel and Gretel" gratis. "This is great! I've never been here before!" gasped Brianna Gilbert, 8, of Brooklyn's Public School 219, pointing to the lobby's sparkling lights. "I love the chandeliers! I loved the singing, and dancing and music!" General Manager Peter Gelb intends to put the Met on the map of family holiday performances, calling the English-language version of "Hansel and Gretel" the high-art response to the New York City Ballet's "Nutcracker." Last year, Gelb offered $25 orchestra seats to students from the Opera Guild's school programs to see the enchanting "Magic Flute," featuring Julie Taymor's breathtaking puppet artistry. This year, it's the darker Grimm's fairy tale. Educators disagree on whether the scary themes of lost children, stressed parents and evil witches will bring nightmares instead of happy family entertainment. The Met advertises the program for 8 years and up, but the guild warned that children under 10 should stay clear. Those attending on Dec. 21, though, were undaunted. A very random survey of half a dozen students said they weren't scared at all, but they definitely ruled out bringing a kindergartner. "It was excellent," said Bronx fourth-grader Ira Bilgeln, 10, who admitted to being a bit unnerved by the curtains depicting a cavernous, greedy mouth. "That was crazy," he added, referring to when the lost children saw "trees starting to move." Continue Reading

The Citzenship Now! Volunteers

LAST NAME FIRST NAME Bio              ACEVEDO ANNA ANNA ACEVEDO is a student of human services at New York City College of Technology.  She is also a mentor for new students and a coach for students with academic problems.  She is fluent is Spanish. ACOBES JACQUELINE Jacqueline Acobes is a paralegal at CAMBA, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that assists clients with adjustment of status, asylum and naturalization applications. She is fluent in Spanish. ADES ALBERT ALBERT ADES, a lawyer in private practice  in Manhattan, has more than 30 years of experience in immigration and naturalization law. He is former chapter chairman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. AGRONT SONIA Sonia Agront is the associate director of the Immigration Department at Caribbean Women’s Health Association, which is accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. She is fluent in Spanish. AJAYI OLU Olu A. Ajayi is the president of the Nigerian-American Community Association (USA) Inc. He has more than 10 years experience assisting immigrants. A member of the National Immigrants Council, he is fluent in Yoruba and Hausa. ALAJBEGOVIC MAIDA Maida Alajbegovic is a paralegal at CAMBA, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that assists clients with adjustment of status, asylum and naturalization applications. She is fluent in Bosnian.  ALARNICK CORRINE Corrine Alarnick is a projects coordinator for the Division of Student Affairs at Brooklyn College.  She coordinates on- and off-campus civic engagement projects, including the Voter Empowerment Initiative. ALCIVAR MERCEDES   ALEXIS MICHEL Continue Reading

Brush Up on Pets’ Dental Care

A new study by the American Veterinary Dental Society shows that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3 have dental disease. That's a big stinking amount of bad breath - the No. 1 sign that something bad is brewing. "Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets," said Henry Childers, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The culprit is tartar, caused by plaque buildup from bacteria, combined with saliva and food debris between the tooth and gum. Tartar builds up on the tooth and below the gums, allowing bacterial growth and inflammation. If it isn't removed, pockets of infection along the gum line can lead to tooth loss. Worse, the infection caused by the disease may migrate into the bloodstream, potentially infecting the heart, liver and kidneys. Besides bad breath, other signs to look for in cats and dogs include drooling, a change in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face or mouth and depression. Removal of plague through brushing, dental checkups and a healthy diet can prevent or delay the onset of gum disease. But that doesn't mean it's always easy. For Nina Rayburn-Dec, brushing her Jack Russell terrier's teeth entails swooshing a specially designed toothbrush dotted with chicken-flavored toothpaste (Never use human toothpaste on your pet!) over Nigel's teeth - while her husband gently sings. She also treats her pooch to health biscuits to help remove tartar buildup. "He seems to love it," said the Manhattan-based freelance journalist, noting that brushing not only sweetens Nigel's breath but keeps his teeth whiter. Small-breed dogs are prone to tartar accumulation when very young, which results in the loss of many teeth by the time they're 10 years old. Larger breeds, such as German shepherds, don't collect as much tartar so they are not as prone to gum recession. In cats, dental problems may be a sign of other, more serious health problems, said Dr. Arnold Plotnick, a feline Continue Reading

Saturday’s Death Notices

Death Notices, In Memoriam and Acknowledgement Notices Notices may be telephoned to "THE NEWS" by your Funeral Director, Monday thru Thursday, 8:30 A.M. to 6 P.M., and Friday, 8 A.M. to 6 P.M. to appear in the A.M. edition the following day. Our Saturday hours are 9 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. Sunday notices must be phoned in by 1:15 P.M. on Saturday. Monday notices must be phoned in by 3:30 P.M. on Saturday. Call In New York 212-949-2000 Outside NYC 1-800-223-1660 fax 212-210-2049 D'ESPOSITO-Anthony on July 5, 2007. Beloved husband of Victoria of 66 years. Loving father of Caroline Van Ess and Joan Abood. Cherished grandfather of Christopher, Caroline, Gregory and Victoria. Devoted great grandfather of Olivia, Elizabeth, Caroline, Sadie, Madeleine, Gabriel and Benjamin. Dear uncle of Roy and Lea Gangi, Josephine Theisen and Ronald Rampone. Among his many accomplishments, Anthony was a reknowned builder in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and philanthropist of Adelphi Academy. Reposing at ANDREW TORREGROSSA & SONS, 1305 79TH St, Bklyn, NY. Visitation Friday 2-5 & 7-10 P.M. Funeral Mass Saturday 10:00 A.M. at St. Anselm R.C. Church. Interment Greenwood Cemetery. DIAZ-Antonio died 07/04/2007. Member of Steamfitters Local 638. Mass Saturday, 9:45 AM at Our Lady of Sorrow, 104-11 37th Ave, Corona, NY. Officers & Members of Local 638 extend to the family of our deceased Brother our deepest sympathy. John J. Torpey, Pres. James P. Elder, Secy./Treas. DIAZ-Frank P. Proprietor of Frank P. Diaz Furniture for over 68 years. Honored by the Dominican Consulate as one of the first Hispanic Proprietor/Business Owners. World War II Veteran. Beloved husband of Minerva. Devoted father of Frank Samuel Diaz, Norma Diaz, Gilbert Diaz, Frances Rodriguez, Elizabeth Diaz-Stuckey, & Javier Francisco Diaz. Dear father-inlaw of Debbie Diaz, Anna Diaz, Harry Stuckey & Jessica Diaz. Also survived by 18 loving grandchildren & 16 great grandchildren. Reposing at MARTIN A. GLEASON Continue Reading


Barry Rohrssen took the easy way to work on his first day on the job yesterday. He got on the 1 train at Columbus Circle and took it all the way to 246th St. in the Bronx, then walked up the hill to Manhattan College. "I had my copy of the Daily News, read it cover to cover," he said. "I was on a local." Rohrssen, 45, knows his way around this city. The Jaspers' new basketball coach grew up in Brooklyn and attended Xaverian High School and St. Francis of Brooklyn before getting into coaching and emerging as one of the best recruiters in the country as an assistant at Pitt. "To cop a phrase from the Wizard of Oz, 'There's no place like home,' " he said. Rohrssen dressed appropriately for the occasion, wearing a green tie he had just purchased in Pittsburgh and an "M" pin on the lapel of his pinstriped suit. Manhattan sprung into regional prominence in the 1990's when AD Bob Byrnes made some inspired hires, starting with Steve Lappas and continuing with Fran Fraschilla and Bobby Gonzalez. All three - who were Big East assistants - graduated to Big East head coaching vacancies. The Jaspers' job has become one of the best stepping-stone gigs in the country. But it takes a street-smart city kid who has strong ties to the high schools and the area's powerful summer travel teams to max out its potential. Rohrssen fits the profile. Like Lappas, Fraschilla and Gonzalez, Rohrssen does not have any head coaching experience, so there will be a learning curve. But the formula has worked here before. Rohrssen helped build the foundation for Pitt's nationally ranked program by opening the door for Ben Howland and then Jamie Dixon to sign local prep stars such as Chris Taft and Levance Fields of Xaverian, Ronald Ramon of All Hallows, Keith Benjamin of Mount Vernon, Mark McCarroll of Christ the King and Tyrell Biggs of Don Bosco in New Jersey. That is what resonated with Brother Thomas Scanlan, the Manhattan president. "Did I say recruiting was the key to our Continue Reading