From the Queens Tribune:
With the Dept. of Education eyeing their school for possible closure, dozens of students from Newtown High School in Elmhurst implored Black Friday shoppers at Queens Center Mall, only a few blocks from the school, to help save their 113-year-old home.
"Where will we go?" asked one student, standing in front of the mall entrance, handing out flyers. Another group of students stood along 57th Avenue in front of the Newtown athletic fields, the iconic green cupola of the school in the background.
Another student, who said she immigrated to Elmhurst from Ecuador only a year before attending Newtown, was concerned about others like her. Because of Newtown, she said, she was able to learn English and plans to attend college. "What will others who were in my position do?" she asked.
The flyers asked passers-by to contact the school's DOE representative, demanding the school remain open.
"What a shame," said one woman looking at the flyers. She promised the students her help.
The DOE pondered closing the school earlier this year after it received a "C" on a 2009 progress report, and the school's graduation rate slipped to around 50 percent.
Students, parents and school officials say the problem is not with the school, but rather with statewide standards, which do not work for Newtown High School, where 40 percent of students were recently-arrived immigrants, most of whom do not speak fluent English. Though many high schools will not accept teenage immigrants who are not English-proficient, Newtown does, and though these students do not graduate on time, they do eventually. That, according to the school's administration, is what affects the graduation rate.