New School Breaks Ground In Long Island City

BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ

The students of the Academy of American Studies will soon be under one roof, now that the city has broken ground on the $118 million project that will give all 969 students enrolled a school of their own.

The new four-story high school is being constructed in the backlot of Newcomers High School, located at 28–01 41st Ave.

For over two decades, students at the Academy of American Studies have been split, with half seated in classrooms at Newcomers High School and half at a small two-story building across the street.

The School Construction Authority (SCA) announced this project over a year ago. However, according to principal William Bassell, it has come to reality because of the push from both the faculty at the high school and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Long Island City).

“The groundbreaking for the new Academy of American Studies building is truly a momentous occasion, as it will bring our school into a 21st-century state-of-the-art facility” said Bassell. “We are grateful to the many students who made attaining this new school building their mission, and we are also grateful to Assemblymember Cathy Nolan, whose unswerving guidance and unstinting support helped us to bring this 20-year dream to a vibrant and exciting reality.”

The state-of-the-art facility will also include a competition-size gymnasium with locker rooms; two science demo labs; two science labs; two science prep rooms; music and art classrooms; a technology lab; a medical suit; a guidance counselors’ office; a library; a staff room; a kitchen; student and staff dining areas; a parent room; and an outdoor play area with four handball courts, a half court for basketball and a reading area.

“Community Board 2 is grateful to our local elected officials and the School Construction Authority for finding an acceptable location to build a new school near our district,” said Community Board 2 Chairwoman Denise Keehan-Smith. Creating a state-of-the-art high school helps to prepare our children to compete in the global environment. We are thankful the education of our students has been made a priority once again.”

The high school is slated for completion by 2020.

Nolan said that the new Academy of American Studies building is just one of many schools coming to the district.

“I am proud to see the Academy of American Studies finally get a proper school building” said Nolan. “Together with principal William Bassell, our community has advocated for this school for a long time. More schools and additional investments are needed for Long Island City, Dutch Kills and portions of western Queens. I will continue to advocate for the city to make these investments so we can keep our quality of life and communities strong.”

The SCA secured $60 million in its budget for the construction of a school in Court Square because of the need for seats in District 30. It is also working with local stakeholders, local parent associations and the Department of Education (DOE) to address other needs in the schools.

Elected officials, such as Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), are also pushing for more seats in western Queens neighborhoods.

“One of the greatest needs in our community is having enough school seats for our kids, and today’s announcement is good news on that front,” said Gianaris. “I will keep fighting for more schools throughout western Queens until all parents can be assured their children will have a seat in which to learn.”

Reach Ariel Hernandez at ahernandez@queenstribune.com or @reporter_ariel