Sunday, June 29, 2014


Jamaica HS phased out on Thursday after 122 years of service to the community.  We had a final graduating class of around only 25 students for 2014 but nobody had their enthusiasm dampened at the graduation ceremony and reception held at Antun's on Thursday evening. For students to make it through a phase out situation with its very limited course offerings was not easy. These pupils persevered.

Borough President Melinda Katz was in attendance at the ceremony as was her deputy: former Councilmember Leroy Comrie. The Borough President's father taught at Jamaica and Comrie is a graduate.

The alumni were fully represented with recent grads such as Kymberly Walcott mixing with keynote speaker and 1974 graduate, Assemblyman David Weprin and Comrie.

Weprin, just like Community Activist Jackie Forrestal and me, refuses to concede defeat on Jamaica High School ceasing to exist. The school has been around since 1892. Jackie, her husband Kevin and their daughter Kathy (Jamaica HS class of 1994) were all in attendance at the graduation.

What made the event truly inspiring were the speeches from the students. Adriana Vega's emotional valedictory speech along with addresses from Sarah Kissoon and Phillip Samuel were the equal of anything ever said at past graduations, even when we had much larger graduating classes.

Don't take my word that this was a great evening. Read the Daily News account and see highlights for yourself that the Daily New put on video.

Jamaica High School's Class of 2014: Their motto: "Out with a Bang!"

Reception follows the Graduation ceremony



Anonymous said...

Javon Williams-Alum

its a disgrace what New York City has done to Jamaica High School, one of the most historic schools in NYC!

Anonymous said...

We must keep the memory of Jamaica HS alive in this age of privatization of public systems and elimination of the middle class.

Anonymous said...

Lucas Rule said: Even though it was a sad send off, I think the old beaver would be proud.  It was kind of like a family gathering... From the moment I walked in- I saw familiar faces, some who I didn't know by name, felt at home when I saw people I hadn't seen in a while, and once we talked it was like no time had passed at all.

Anonymous said...

Mohammad Ishrak Khan 11:17am Jun 29

We all started our real life journey from here. This institution and the people of this institution taught us as many things as parents teach their kids how to tackle the obstacles in real lives. Thanks for the great experience. Thanks Mr. James Eterno, you are one of the few people that I have always prayed for and appreciated your relentless effort on saving this school. Long live JHS. We are proud to be a part of JHS

Anonymous said...

You guys fought the good fight. We are so sad to see Jamaica close.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for everything you did for Jamaica High School. The 14 years I worked there were the most rewarding, happy days of my teaching career. We were a family. I also had the privilege of working at my mother and my aunt's alma mater being that they graduated from Jamaica High in the early 1940s.

I know that we all motivated and encouraged thousands of students and will smile whenever I think of them....which is one of the reasons I became a teacher.

Jamaica High School will always hold a special place in my heart and my memory. Bloomberg and the NYC Board of Ed can never take that way.

Anonymous said...

It is very sad.
Thank you for all your effort throughout the years!

Anonymous said...

CONGRATS to the Eternos on their baby!!!

Keep that wonderful event in the front of your minds, so that the disgraceful betrayal of Jamaica HS, and of all the great schools targeted for the glue factory, becomes, at least for now, at least for the summer, CELEBRATE!!! (From a long-time teacher forced to retire, trying to follow his own advice...!!!)

Anonymous said...

James why did you not tell the daily new about how Mulgrew, Farina, and Deblasio all turned their backs to Jamaica H.S. and how nothing has really changed at the doe, with them spending millions on lawyers

Unknown said...

Now it's time to follow the Chicago model and open up a new charter named after some white banker.

James Eterno said...

To 8:37 am- We've told the press many times how Jamaica High School was murdered by Bloomberg-Klein-Walcott but could have been saved by deBlasio-Farina who decided not to. It is symbolic of a continuation of the Bloomberg methods of killing traditional high schools by de Blasio. I have seen very little, if any, change under the new regime. That is sad to have to report.

Anonymous said...

You have fought the good fight, and run the race well. Those of you leaving JHS owe apologies to no one. Several nearby schools watched your planned demise then went and hid their heads in the sand. Watch as the last few real high schools in Queens are dismantled by the supt. and friends. (Long past overdue to investigate cronyism and nepotism in this district anyway.)
What a wonderful time for Matthew to arrive! Rest assured the Mulgrew leadership will keep you an ATR forever, so at least you will have some time to enjoy the little ones and celebrate a new beginning.
Congratulations to all!

Anonymous said...

First of all congrats on the arrival of your new son. The last time I saw you, you were wheeling a stroller at the first SOS rally in Washington, DC. Nice to see the family is growing.

The fact that a great teacher and union rep like yourself will no longer have a class to call his own is very sad news. Farina no longer wants experienced teachers. She is taking big steps backwards to make sure the Klein era continues.

Anonymous said...

Kathy Forrestal 8:47am Jul 1

The graduation was a bit of a New Orleans funeral, I'd say. But what made -- makes -- jamaica special was the people and how alums and people connected to the school are all family. That doesn't change...the DOE can't take that away. Thankfully!!

Anonymous said...

Marvin Underweiser said:

How does one grieve such a loss? It is hard to imagine a world without Jamaica High School.