Parent involvement needed for superintendent hire

Following community and parent backlash, the Department of Education will be expanding the involvement of parental feed- back in the hiring process of its 45 public school superintendents.

Incumbent Superintendents, including Community Education Council District 30’s Dr. Philip Composto, will now be allowed to re-apply for their position.

The initial decision to not allow District 30 Superintendent Composto re-apply for his position was met with outcry from elected officials representing the area, which includes Astoria, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Sunnyside, Corona, East Elmhurst and Long Island City.

The DOE’s reversal came down on Monday afternoon, with Schools

Chancellor David Banks re- leasing a statement.

“The central pillar of this administration is parent and community engagement,” Banks said. “After listening to community feedback we are inviting all incumbent superintendents to be interviewed as part of the community process.”

Social media outrage, emergency Zoom meet- ings with parents and press conferences rallying for the 40-year veteran and widely popular Dr. Composto came with complaints of the lack of transparency from the DOE.

With nearly 500 attend- ees in an impromptu emer- gency Zoom meeting that lasted over three hours, parents and education advocates plead for the reconsideration of Dr. Composto’s application.

At a press conference held in Astoria the following day, elected officials stood in unity, saying that

hundreds of constituents have reached out with the same concerns regarding the DOE’s initial decision.

State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymembers Zohran Mamdani, Cathay Nolan and Brian Barnwell, Councilmembers Tiffany Caban and Julie Won stood with families from District 30 outside PS 171 in Astoria, calling for more transparency from

the DOE and praising the work of Dr. Composto as the district’s superintendent.

During his tenure as an education professional, Dr. Composto worked to implement a college tuition pilot program across Dis- trict 30 before it was ex- panded citywide by Mayor de Blasio and Mayor Ad- ams.

“We were told that the days of turning on the TV and finding out about the news and the policy for an entire school system were over,” Assemblymember Mamdani said. “Yet, for me, the only way that I found out about this decision was opening up Twitter on my phone and seeing a concerned parent tagging me saying they just heard a rumor that this has happened.”

The next day, Mamdani took a visit to a District 30 school where he found the rumor to be true.

Assemblymember Cathy Nolan said she has worked with Dr. Composto for many years, adding that Mayoral control over city schools was not meant to tune out the concerns of parents.

Mayoral control was not meant to exclude the voices of parents and this situation is an example of how important authentic community engagement is to the success of our students.

Candidate for Assembly District 37 Brent O’Leary called the initial DOE de- cision a “slap in the face to the community.”

“We need our parents and our neighborhoods who know best to have a voice in how their schools are run and who is running their schools,” O’Leary said.

The District 30 Community Superintendent Candidate Town Hall is scheduled for Friday, May 20 online at 5:00 p.m. Links can be found at Learndoe. org/supt2022

First ‘Art Walk’ comes to Metro

A little rain did not stop the Forest Hills and surrounding communities from coming out to support local artists over the weekend.

Metro Village Forest Hills, a small business alliance founded by Rachel Kellner of Aigner Chocolates, and Eileen Arabian of DEE’S Wood Fired Pizza + Kitchen, put together the first-ever Metropolitan Avenue of Art event.

AnnaMarie Prono showed her “100 Days of Birds” art series.

At the event, members of the community could go on a free, self-guided tour down Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills, and visit the 11 businesses who housed different artists’ work.

Joana Chu, a real estate salesperson at Home Court Real Estate, helped coordinate the event with Kellner and Arabian, along with Teri Basile of Art World Custom Framing.

“We kind of brainstorm different ideas and ways to drive traffic to the avenue, and that is how this event became an offshoot of one of our meetings,” Chu said. “So the four of us were interested in really hunkering down and actually putting the event together.”

Chu added that Metro Village’s main goals for the event were to familiarize the community with local businesses, as well as provide an outlet for artists.

“I think it’s really difficult for local artists to have venues and free opportunities to show their art and to sell their art,” she said. “So we thought this would be a nice way to support them, and to kind of connect with the community and have them become aware of both the artists and the businesses.”

Alan Cory Kaufman, a Forest Hills resident, displayed his artwork inside Aigner Chocolates.

His work consisted of acrylic paintings of various animals, primarily fish, that were executed in a playful, almost childlike manner.

Kaufman said that he started painting to keep himself busy while rehabilitating himself after he had undergone brain surgeries and spent a lot of time at home.

Alan Cory Kaufman displayed his artwork at Aigner Chocolates.

“I’m not really a trained artist, but acrylic paints are fun. They’re easy, and they’re simple to get,” Kaufman said. “I spent a couple of hours each day painting and they accumulated, and my wife Susan led me up to participate in this event when we ran out of space on our wall.”

Axel Checa, an architect with the Department of Buildings whose work was displayed at Dylan’s Restaurant, also does art for therapeutic reasons.

Checa, who is Native American and identifies as two-spirit, said that her artwork is a way for her to express and discover herself during the darkest of times.

“This piece is from five years ago, when I was in college, and just starting art. I made it to be secure and to comfort me, because at that time, I had no idea I was trans,” Checa said in reference to a self portrait.

“It’s funny because there’s two people in the portrait: the hood version of me and the spiritual version of me,” she continued. “It’s kind of a dark piece. I used it to get through some feelings of discomfort and not knowing who I am or what I’m doing.”

Other artists, like Debra Mintz, use art as a way to relocate their inner child.

Mintz is a graduate of Yale School of Art, and a retired teacher from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, where she taught for over 20 years.

“These are abstract, and I quote my father when it comes to these. He said if you are yourself then you will always be original,” she said. “Even though I’m highly educated,

I’ve always tried to think deep down inside and find out who I am and relocate the child in me. And that’s how I found all these shapes.”

Mintz uses any art material known to man to create her works, and the drawings she displayed featured various abstract shapes and bright, eye-catching colors.

Many community members came out to support the artists, including Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Councilman James Gennaro. A lot of the featured artists said they made quite a few sales during the art walk.

“There’s just a sense of a small town when you walk down Metropolitan Avenue. It has a different feel, and we really want to foster that,” Chu said.

“The fact that the small business owners are getting to know each other, and we’re all neighbors, many of them live above their businesses and many of them have been there for 20 years,” she continued. “So I think it’s really important to kind of make sure that we stay connected, and we support each other and each other’s businesses, so we can all thrive.”

Second annual AAPI heritage month fun run held in Bayside

In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the second annual AAPI Heritage Month fun run was held Sunday in Bayside.

State Senator John Liu and over 100 runners joined the 4.8-mile run on Joe Michaels Mile from Fort Totten to Northern Boulevard and back.

Liu noted a great turnout, where the first 100 runners received a free bright orange t-shirt and a healthy dose of exercise.

“Thank you to all the runners of all ages and backgrounds who ran, jogged, and walked with us as we enjoyed a fun-filled day celebrating Asian American heritage and community,” Liu said.

Queens College celebrates completion of $9.8M athletic field renovation

Elected officials cut the ribbon on a brand new $9.8 million athletic field renovation at Queens College on Monday, May 9.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Assemblymember Nily Rozic, Councilmember Francisco Moya and former Councilmember Rory Lancman joined Queens College President Frank Wu for an inaugural lap around the new track.

The $9.8 million project began in January 2021, with Assemblymember Rozic helping to secure a $500,000 grant for track renovation.

In addition to Queens College, the track will serve students at Townsend Harris High School, John Bowne High School and will be available to community members at-large.

The new soccer field will be used by division II level athletes at Queens College, and for intramural events and physical education classes.

On social media, Moya praised the completion of the athletic field and track.

“The future Footballers will be coming straight out of Queens College,” he tweeted.

St. John’s breaks ground on new facility

Health Sciences Center and Nursing Program to transform campus

St. John’s University administrators and local elected officials commemorated International Nurses Day by breaking ground on its plans to build a $106 million Health Sciences Center.

Part of a new initiative to transform the learning and landscape of the Queens campus, the proposed 70,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2024 as the permanent home of the recently launched Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing program at St. John’s.

“For the last two years, New York’s nurses have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we owe each and every one of them a debt of gratitude,” New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “This new state-of-the-art Health Sciences Center at St. John’s University will be crucial to educating the next generation of New York’s best and brightest nurses, ensuring they are ready to step up and protect their fellow New Yorkers when they are needed most.”

Establishing a nursing program is part of a planned expansion of the health sciences curriculum coupled with capital improvements to new and existing academic facilities on the campus.

The new Health Sciences Center aims to both support and house existing and forthcoming health science programs in one energy-efficient academic facility, which will provide students with access to state-of-the-art technology, classrooms, laboratories, simulation facilities, and flexible room layouts to allow for a multitude of teaching and learning opportunities. The innovative and flexible learning environment will ensure that future healthcare workers can keep pace with the dramatic advancements in the industry.

“Nursing is not simply a job or a career, it is a vocation—a true calling to service—the kind of compassionate service that is at the heart of the transformative Catholic and Vincentian mission of a St. John’s education,” Rev. Brian J. Shanley, president of St. John’s University, said in a statement. “Today, with a major investment and expanded commitment to the health sciences, St. John’s helps answer that call.”

St. John’s University will also provide students with hands-on clinical rotations within a network of partner healthcare systems that include New York City Health + Hospitals, New York-Presbyterian Queens, and Catholic Health.

With an innovative curriculum, support for brand-new facilities, and established community partnerships, the new nursing program at St. John’s aims to strengthen the local academic health system. The four-year nursing pre-licensure program is designed for undergraduate students with no previous experience in professional nursing. It is open to applicants with good moral character and demonstrated academic ability.

The construction of the new facility is funded by a mix of private and public funds including more than $20 million to date in philanthropic support. The Health Sciences Center is partially funded by a $1.25 million federal appropriation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration secured by Representative Gregory W. Meeks and Senator Chuck Schumer.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the need for adequate nurse staffing, which is crucial to ensure quality health care access for all New Yorkers,” Hope Knight, CEO, president, and commissioner of Empire State Development, said in a statement. “New York State’s investment in St. John’s University’s state-of-the-art Health Science Center reflects our strategic focus on workforce development and highlights New York’s commitment to strengthening our health care system. The New Health Sciences Center will create 21st-century jobs by creating a pipeline of nursing staff in the region that will help fulfill a crucial need across the State.”

In addition, St. John’s secured a $5 million New York State Higher Education Capital Matching Grant and a $700,000 Empire State Development grant from Round XI of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.

“Investing in our workforce is an important priority for the Regional Councils and the pandemic has put a focus on the need to expand the talent pool of skilled nurses,” New York City Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Winston Fisher and CUNY Chancellor Felix V. Matos Rodriguez said in a joint statement. “The NYREDC is proud to support the Health Science Center at St. John’s University, which will be an important long-term investment in future healthcare workers that will expand our workforce of nurses with good-paying jobs while also growing the State’s economy.”

When complete, the new facility will enable St. John’s University to train student nurses with the most innovative training tools and techniques available. Applications for the University’s Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing are now being accepted and preparations are underway for the first cohort of students to begin classes in August.

The new undergraduate nursing program is expected to produce approximately 125 nursing graduates per year.

Meng helps secure $3 million for new labor and delivery wing at Elmhurst Hospital

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng and representatives from the office of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited Elmhurst Hospital to celebrate $3 million in federal funding secured for a new Labor and Delivery unit on the hospital’s fifth floor.

In honor of Women’s Health Month in May, Meng led a “wall-breaking” ceremony before touring the current Labor and Delivery unity to see where the future renovations will take place.

Federal funding for the initiative — which will support the hospital’s goal of improving health indicators for pregnant women and decreasing maternal and infant mortality rates — was made available under the Community Project Funding Program and through the offices of Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer.

Black and Native American women in the U.S. are three times more likely to die than white women from pregnancy-related causes, and black babies are twice as likely to die than white babies, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. While 700 pregnancy deaths occur per year, two-thirds of them are considered to be preventable.

Rep. Grace Meng and representatives from the office of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited Elmhurst Hospital to celebrate $3 million in federal funding secured for a new Labor and Delivery unit on the hospital’s fifth floor.

In New York City, black women have an eight times greater risk of pregnancy-related death than white women. They were also three times more likely than their white counterparts to experience severe maternal morbidity, which can include blood clots, kidney failure, stroke or heart attack.

Meng said she was proud to deliver the federal funds to the local hospital, enabling expanded access and care to families. Construction of the new hospital wing is scheduled for spring and summer 2022

“Elmhurst plays a critical role in the health and wellbeing of our communities, and I cannot wait until the renovation is completed,” Meng said. “All families deserve a modern, safe, and equitable maternal health care experience, and investments like this are needed to ensure that the hospital can continue to provide efficient, high-quality and state of the art services that local residents need and deserve. It is also crucial to meet the growing needs of the area. When the COVID-19 crisis began, NYC Health + Hospitals in Elmhurst was in the heart of the epicenter, and this project is an example of how we must build back better and stronger as we work to recover from the pandemic. I’m excited for this renovation to begin, and look forward to the upgrades benefiting Queens families for decades to come.”

Meng also took part in a patient baby shower co-sponsored by MetroPlusHealth, which included educational presentations on prenatal care, breastfeeding, safe sleep, nutrition, and the hospital’s doula program. Community-based organizations CommonPoint Queens and the Queens Museum also joined in the baby shower events. Following presentations, patients had the opportunity to win prizes by answering trivia questions related to well-baby care.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst CEO Helen Arteaga-Landaverde said that she is beyond ecstatic and grateful to lawmakers who will help see the project through to its completion..

“Our expectant mothers and newborns will greatly benefit from these investments in infrastructure and improving patient care and patient satisfaction at our facility,” Arteaga-Landaverde said. “We look forward to working closely with our federal legislators to ensure that Elmhurst has the resources it needs to meet the growing healthcare demands of our community.”

Classic Cars return to Bay Terrace

This summer, Cord Meyer Development will host a series of classic car shows at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center, located at 212-45 26th Ave. in Bayside, featuring Jackie DeLuca and the Queens Classic Car Club. Shows will run every other Tuesday, beginning May 24, from 5 – 9 p.m., through August 30, with rain dates reserved for Tuesdays in-between the eight events.

All classic and vintage cars are welcome to participate. Admission is free and open to the public.

“We are thrilled to welcome back this enjoyable, family-friendly event,” Cord Meyer Development Vice President Controller Joe Forgione said in a release. “The Bay Terrace Shopping Center is the heart of the community and has so much to offer, including great casual dining options. It’s the perfect place for a car show and we look forward to presenting other events in the months to come while meeting the needs of our neighbors in Bay Terrace and beyond.”

Each event will also feature a 50/50 raffle, with all proceeds going to St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital, and live musical performances.

To kick off the festivities, on May 24, the Lisa Polizzi Band will perform popular covers, from soul to country to rock.

Founded in 2013, the Queens Classic Car Club is dedicated to promoting the classic car hobby and educating the public on the historical significance of automobiles of the past. For more information visit The Bay Terrace Car Show group on Facebook.

Cord Meyer is a premier developer, owner, and operator of high-quality retail, commercial, and residential properties in Queens and the surrounding metropolitan area, including its historic Bay Terrace property. Developed from a Meyer family farm, the Bay Terrace Shopping Center has grown with and served the community for more than 60 years. To find out more about the Cord Meyer Development Company, visit

Local musicians team up with laundromat to host clothing drive

Local musicians are doing their part to “clean up” the neighborhood with a free music festival on May 21st, from 3 – 7 p.m., at the Clean Rite Center, 50-14 Roosevelt Ave. in Woodside, to support a local clothing drive.

King ECH will perform at the first annual Clothing Drive festival.

The Loosies, a Maspeth-based rock group, came up with the idea for the festival with the goal of collecting on-site donations for All of Us Clothing, an organization that distributes clothes to different charities and causes in the area, and Clean Rite Center, a 24/7 laundromat service company with over 70 stores across New York City, Baltimore, Allentown and parts of Ohio.

Tony Sofio, the drummer for The Loosies, said he was half-joking when he suggested the idea of holding a music festival/clothing drive at a laundromat. The band sent an email to their local Clean Rite Center regardless and were shocked to hear that not only was Clean Rite interested in the suggestion, but they pitched in and offered to help plan the event.

“Clean Rite takes pride in making a difference in the communities we serve,” Felicia Galitsky, chief of staff for Clean Rite, said. “We have been taking on a more active role in community initiatives and when The Loosies came to us with this, it seemed like a no-brainer – we love the idea of different local businesses coming together to unite the community!”

Sean Cantatore will perform on May 21

In addition to putting on the free concert, local musicians will be providing free laundry soap for all patrons and free cookies courtesy of Subway.

“Who doesn’t love clothing drives? Good for our neighbors and our environment,” Astoria-based singer-songwriter Sara No H said about performing at the upcoming festival. “Let’s gather, share resources, and make some sweet music while we’re at it.”

The festival will feature eight different live performance from local artists and bands including The Loosies, Sara No H, Jeff Rodriguez (Jackson Heights), Sean Cantatore, Jam Young, King ECH (Westbury), Too Dapper (The Bronx), Tom Smollins (Woodside), and Rao (Woodside).

For more information and set times, visit the band’s website at

Pol Position: The ‘formula’ for disaster

The nationwide shortage of baby formula is leaving parents with newborn children worried over how they plan to feed their infants.

Consumer shortages are the direct result of a massive recall of products produced by one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of powdered formula, Abbott Nutrition, which had been found to cause bacterial infections in four infants who needed to be hospitalized as a result.

Since then, major retail chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Target have restricted the number of formula products a customer can purchase.

The Food and Drug Administration continues to work closely with Abbott and other manufacturers to try and bring safe products to the market and increase the availability of infant and specialty formula products, while at the same time, monitoring the recalled products including Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare.

New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul reassured parents with infants that she is working in close cooperation with the FDA to monitor this crisis and to provide support to families in need of formula.

“My administration is committed to ensuring every newborn and child has access to the nutritional support they need to stay healthy,” Hochul said. “I urge every parent and guardian to take advantage of these resources and keep up to date with important information to take care of their families.”

In a further effort to assist parents struggling to cover expenses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Hochul has also announced plans to provide $28 million in federal funding to help more than 112,000 struggling New Yorkers on public assistance with a child 17 years or younger to help pay for housing expenses bills and other critical needs, including formula.

Since baby formula products are in such short supply, state officials are urging parents not to hoard formula products, as it could potentially further impact the supply chain and other families from receiving the resources they need.

Parents experiencing frustration with the shortage should also be aware of potential scammers, who are using this crisis as a means to make a buck.

According to the New York State Division of Consumer Protection, these scams are typically rooted in online sales and private sellers who are asking for double the market price, knowing that big retailers are in short supply.

Some of the big retailers have empty shelves and little information about when they may receive their next shipment.

“Parents, feeling the pressures of the shortage, may find themselves scrambling to find alternative solutions but in the end could end up being scammed by unscrupulous bad actors online,” Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said in a statement on the crisis. “At a time when there is a national shortage of baby formula, it is imperative that parents and guardians be aware of scams and know how to spot illegitimate online sales.”

The most important thing for parents to remember is to safety check any formula-based product to make sure it is not subject to a recall. This requires examining the lot code, a multidigit number on the bottom of any container of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare powdered products.

Not only has the shortage opened the door for third-party retailers to take advantage of the crisis, but it has forced some families to ration food supplies and even made some travel for hours in order to obtain formula.

“No family in America should ever be concerned they cannot feed their children,” U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand said. “Corporate greed and malfeasance have put us in this dire situation and now we must act with urgency.”

In a letter addressed to President Biden, Gillibrand calls on the executive to invoke the Defense Protection Act in order to help address the ongoing crisis.

If put into effect, the Defense Production Act would give the President authority to assist in domestic industry and increase the production of baby formula by requiring people, businesses, and corporations to prioritize and accept contracts for baby formula production.

It would also allow for the expansion of production capacity and supply by incentivizing the domestic industrial base, while entering into voluntary agreements with private businesses to coordinate the production of excess formula.

“These authorities have been employed numerous times since the 1950s to supplement national stockpiles,” Gillibrand states in her letter. “Given that reports suggest that nearly 40 percent of formula nationwide is now out of stock, the need to intensify the production of formula to prevent a future child nutrition crisis is clear.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney and Congresswoman Raja Krishnamoorthi also recently sent a joint letter to the four major manufacturers of baby formula products, including Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestle USA, and Perrigo Company—who together control nearly 90 percent of the U.S. market of formula—requesting information on what these companies are doing to address the nationwide shortage.

“The national formula shortage poses a threat to the health and economic security of infants and families in communities through the country—particularly those with less income who have historically experienced health inequities, including food insecurity,” the letter states. “It is critical that your company take all possible steps to increase the supply of formula and prevent price gouging.”

Maloney and Krishnamoorthi are requesting a briefing and response from all four of the manufacturers by May 26.

Jastremski: Comeback Rangers advance to Round 2

Postseason Series fascinate me on so many different levels as a sports fan.

After all, the loser sees their season come to an end, but it’s much more than that.

It’s the heightened drama, suspense, and all of the twists and turns that accompany intense games between two of the same teams over a week to two-week span.

New York Rangers fans experienced the rollercoaster of emotions that a playoff series can provide over the last two weeks.

A week ago, the Rangers season was on life support.

After a feel-good regular season, the first four games of their 1st round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins were nothing short of a nightmare.

The Rangers lost both games 3 and 4 in Pittsburgh and to make matters worse, star goaltender Igor Shesterkin was pulled in each game.

The onslaught of Penguins goals in Game 4 didn’t exactly inspire confidence that a comeback was possible.

Something changed in the Rangers returning home for Game 5.

Rangers Head Coach Gerard Gallant called the team soft following the Game 4 loss. Personally, I thought it was a desperate ploy by a coach of a dead team trying to wake his team up.

Guess what, it worked.

The Rangers sense of intensity and determination was all over the ice in the final three games of the series.

They were down 2 goals in Game 5 and came back to win.

Game 6, they returned to Pittsburgh, the scene of the Game 3 and 4 horror show, and proceeded to overcome yet another two-goal deficit.

In Game 7, the Rangers trailed late in the third period, but Mika Zibanejad’s clutch game-tying goal set the stage for Artemi Panarin’s series-clinching goal in overtime.

The Rangers’ star players were quiet for the first four games of the series. However, in their final three wins, they were instrumental to their success.

Zibanejad and Panarin struggled for the first five games of the series but responded in a big way. The same could be set for netminder Igor Shesterkin.

Shesterkin found his comfort zone and got back to the winning style of play that was on display throughout the regular season.

The Rangers won a series that in many ways validates their feel-good regular season.

Up next for the Comeback Kids, the Carolina Hurricanes. A team that knocked the Blueshirts out of the 2020 COVID Bubble Tournament and dominated the head-to-head regular-season match-ups.

Unlike the last series against Pittsburgh, the Rangers are underdogs heading in.

Let’s see what other twists and turns await “The Comeback Kid” Rangers in the roller coaster ride that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs…

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. We will have episodes following Game 1 on Wednesday & Game 3 on Sunday. Plus you can catch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight following the Mets on SNY.

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