Want to know how to compose a great persuasive essay?

We will show you all the persuasive essay writing peculiarities! With us you are sure to succeed!

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Mount Hope Playground

October 8, 2008

On Wednesday, Oct. 8, an official ribbon cutting ceremony was held at Mount Hope Playground to recognize the park’s recent renovation.

The playground, at East 177 Street and Walton Avenue, has been open to public since July, following a two-year makeover that cost $1.8 million. Improvements include two new basketball courts, play equipment, benches, a revamped drainage system, new swings, plants, and 12 new trees courtesy of the MillionTreesNYC initiative.

Before the ribbon was cut and local children unleashed onto the jungle-gym equipment, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe benepe engaged the audience with a history of the area’s progression from a farm in the 1840s, to a park in the 1990s. 

Hector Aponte, the Parks Department’s Bronx borough commissioner, said he has been thrilled to see the park brought to life by community members of all ages.

Sean Belle, Mount Hope Housing Company’s president and CEO, said there was now an “oasis” in “a place with the least amount of park space in the entire city.”

By ARIEL ELGHANAYAN

Baez Wants Term Limit Extension

October 6, 2008

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stated his intention to seek a third term in office. Under current laws, he’s barred from running because of the two-term limit (each term is four years). But Bloomberg’s hoping the City Council will vote to extend it to three terms. If that happens, the city’s other elected officials, including the five borough presidents and the 51 councilmembers, could potentially stay in power for another four years.

In a phone interview, Bronx Council Member Maria Baez said she’d like to see the law changed. “I’m definitely in support of it,” she said. “It gives an opportunity for members like myself to finish projects.” 

For Baez, these projects include the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, currently being built in University Heights, and Mount Hope Housing Company’s new community center – efforts she helped fund.

In recent times, however, Baez is better known for what she hasn’t done, not what she has. In September, the Daily News reported that Baez attended less than 50 percent of Council meetings in the first half of 2008, a record worse than any other councilmember. The newspaper accused her of “skipping work.”

Baez’s current term will be up at the end of 2009. The 14th District includes Mount Hope, Morris Heights, and Fordham.

By JAMES FERGUSSON

Davidson Community Center Turns 40

October 5, 2008

In the late 1960s and ‘70s, Burnside Avenue became – as its name eerily foreshadowed – the singed backside of Morris Heights. A victim of the arson that plagued much of the south Bronx during that time, the neighborhood resembled a war zone more than a community.

To aid in revitalization, Davidson Community Center was founded in 1965 on the corner of Burnside and Davison avenues. Today, services include a teen pregnancy program, after school care for children ages 7-12, and specific initiatives to help families, single mothers, and senior citizens. ESL courses run at four levels, five days a week.

Oct. 2  marks Davidson’s 40th anniversary since its establishment as a 501-c-3 non-profit organization. Its motto: servicing and empowering the community one life at a time.

True to its mission, Davidson’s 40 years abound with stories of personal triumph: a young girl who was once in the after school program graduated from college, and now works for a Bronx elected official; a boy, 17, formed a dance troupe and rehearsed at Davidson, choreographing original routines, and performing all over the Bronx; a troubled teen uninterested in school developed a penchant for stenography, obtained a degree at a vocational school, and is now raising a family and teaching incarcerated youth.

Keeping Davidson afloat through the years hasn’t always been easy. “I have to take from Peter to pay Paul,” says Executive Director Angel Caballero. “There were times when I didn’t know how I was going to pay my own rent and bills.”

Davidson receives federal and state funding, though grants have been cut in recent years.  Caballero says he occasionally works part-time jobs on top of his full-time duties at Davidson in order to care for his family. During a rough “ghost-like” patch, the center could sustain only one other staff member, part-time.

DCCThough he remains the only full-time employee, Caballero currently receives assistance from six part-time staff members and a dozen interns. During his 33 years at Davidson, he’s held multiple positions, at times concurrently, because of staff shortages. He’s been a counselor, assistant bookkeeper, and grant writer.

Might Caballero’s juggling act and occasional one-man show grow tiring? He laughs, “Listen, I’m not here to be a millionaire.” He continues, “My satisfaction is seeing the kids smile. The way you treat a kid is a way they are going to grow up to be. You have to give all the kids a chance.”

Staff member Paul Bryant corroborates, “The children come every single day and won’t walk out, leave the building until Angel leaves. They’ve adopted him as their father.”

Bryant is the merchant liaison for Davidson’s newest project, the Business Revitalization Program, which provides long-term services to local businesses. The program currently offers financial literacy courses, helps with general business concerns, and aids in drafting contracts or addressing legal issues. The center is also involved in an effort to create a Business Improvement District (or BID) along Burnside, to help stimulate the local economy.

On Fridays, the youth marching band, La Ramitas de Borinquén, uses the facility to practice. The dance troupe rehearses in the same space. On any given evening, adults and teens sit at the tables or on the bleachers in the brightly painted multi-purpose room in Davidson, playing Monopoly, cards, conversing, or indulging in a book. It is a place where the community gathers, learns, plays, and grows.

“Angel is always open to the community. He never turns anyone down, “says Bernice Williams, chair of the Human Services Committee of Community Board 5, who uses the building to hold monthly meetings.  “It’s really an asset to have a community center that is so involved with the community’s needs.”

By REBECCA CHAO

Boys & Girls Club will Open in a Year

October 5, 2008

In University Heights, work is under way to transform a long abandoned Hebrew school into a community center that will serve 350-450 children a day.

Construction at 1845 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. (near West Tremont Avenue) began in May. When finished, the center will boast a gymnasium, and a game room with pool and ping-pong tables. Youngsters will also have access to tutoring and college preparation resources.

The 30,000-square-foot building – known as the Hebrew Institute of University Heights – has been vacant for the past three decades. Some 15 ago Borough President Adolfo Carrion, then District Manager of Community Board 5, had the idea to convert it into a community center. But funding difficulties and problems with the building plans delayed the project again and again.

Kips Bay

“Unfortunately it’s taken some time,” said Daniel Quintero, the executive director of Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, the organization behind the center. “[But] the vision that has always kept us moving forward is serving the 3,000 families in that area.”

The major issues that stalled the building’s renovation have now been resolved, Quintero said, although he’s still looking for additional funds to pay for tables, chairs, computers, and other amenities.

Past the chain link fence and stone-carved facade, the space inside appears dark and cavernous. But sporadic clangs and flashes confirm that work is ongoing. The center is expected to open in the fall of 2009. It will be named after Frederic R. Coudert, a major donor and the president of Kips Bay’s Board of Directors.

Local Schools Get Graded

October 5, 2008

No one likes an F.

Thankfully, most local schools scored at least a B in the Department of Education’s (DOE) latest Progress Reports, released last month. That’s right, these days students aren’t the only ones being graded.

Several schools in the area were awarded A’s.  MS 390 on Andrews Avenue did especially well with an overall score of nearly 90 percent, higher than any other middle school in the Bronx. It’s the second year in a row that the school’s received a top grade.

In a phone interview, MS 390 Principal Robert Mercedes described himself as “somewhat” happy. But he said he’s cautious of reading too much into reports. Plus, with the new school year already in full swing, he’s focusing on the future, not wallowing in the past.  

“Every year presents new challenges,” Mercedes said.  “The things I did last year, believe me, are not always going to work with new kids… you always have to reassess.”

Some local schools didn’t fare as well. PS 85 Great Expectations on Marion Avenue got a D. Meanwhile, PS 230 Dr. Roland N. Patterson, near Roberto Clemente State Park, received an F. Neither school’s principal returned calls seeking comment.

The grades are based on three factors: the percentage of students passing state tests; the improvement in test scores over time; and the school’s environment, which takes into account surveys with teachers, parents, and students. The improvement in test scores, or “student progress,” carries the most weight.

In an interview with reporters on Sept. 26, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said the yearly grades are a fair and accurate reflection of how each school has performed.

“Most parents will want this information,” Klein said.

But not everyone is a fan of the Progress Reports. Last year, the first time schools were graded, PS 79 on Creston Avenue was slapped with an F, a grade teachers called grossly unfair. (Later it was announced that the school was being phased out due to poor performance. It will close for good in 2011; with new schools occupying the building. Because of this, PS 79 wasn’t graded in the 2007/08 school year.)

The United Federation of Teachers [UFT], the labor union that represents New York educators, thinks the system’s a mess. “No one can understand how it all works,” says the UFT’s Leo Casey. This year, many schools got radically different grades to the ones they received in 2007.  For Casey, this raises alarm bells. “Schools don’t change overnight,” he said.

Klein shakes off the criticism. The grades, he said, will make schools and teachers more accountable, and ultimately improve education.

By JAMES FERGUSSON

Editor’s Note: To find out how your school performed, view the table above. If it’s not listed, visit www.schools.nyc.gov, and type in the school’s name or number. High school grades have yet to be released. They’re expected later this month.