BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
The students at Bard Early College High School in Long Island City patiently waited for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott on Dec. 20, as the two made their way to Queens during Bloomberg’s farewell visit to the five boroughs.
During each visit, the Mayor highlighted where each borough stood in 2001 and where it stands today in key areas. The Bard Early College High School is one of 81 new schools, which opened in 2008 in the Borough, where more than 41,500 new school seats have been added.
One of the students to introduce Bloomberg and Walcott to the podium was Omar Ferreira, 17, a resident of Woodhaven and a native of the Dominican Republic, who will graduate from Bard to attend the University of Chicago on a scholarship in the fall.
“Once I started taking the courses that Bard offers, I realized I wanted to take physics and mathematics,” Ferreira said. “I don’t think I would have been able to do it without the amazing range of courses that are offered here.”
Bloomberg highlighted the 2012-13 school year because 67.6 percent of Queens high school students graduated within four years, an increase of 25.3 percent from 2005, when the State started its calculation. He touted that the administration has built 63 new school buildings in Queens.
“The good news today is that people want to go to the public school system,” Bloomberg said. “No matter how quickly we are building seats, we are filling up the demand.”
“For the record, I was never lucky enough to go to a school like this,” Bloomberg added. “They didn’t even exist when I was in high school.”
After focusing on how well schools in Queens are doing, he spoke of the many accomplishments the administration has made in Queens as a whole.
“In New York, we live as a mixture and elsewhere, they live as a mosaic,” he said.
According to the Queens Progress report released by the City, overall crime is down by 37.6 percent since 2001.
“Crime is a record low in the City,” he said.
Since 2002, Bloomberg said 9,000 businesses have been created in Queens. From 2002 through 2012, there was also a nearly 19 percent increase in the number of private employers in the Borough, according to the report.
That also adds to the fact that 52 new hotels in Queens have opened since 2002 – the most of any Borough – with another 14 under development.
“There is more to see and do in Queens,” Bloomberg said. “This is the place where the world comes.”
Bloomberg said the City has invested in more than 75 cultural projects in Queens.
“Queens is stronger than ever,” he said. “I don’t think there is a better place to see that than here in Long Island City, along the waterfront.”
Even though access to the waterfront has been cut off for many years, he said the City has been trying to reconnect to the waterfront by developing it. The East River Ferry service has been extended to 2019, Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg said the LIC waterfront will be home to the largest affordable housing development project since 1970. It will see 5,000 housing units when the Hunter’s Point South development is complete.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.