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Influx of migrants at NYC high school overflows classes

I realize that 21,000 new students seems like a lot, but it isn't that bad. Honesty, you guys are overreacting. You'll hardly know they're there.

Sure the classes may be a little larger, and some folks may not speak English but I view that as an opportunity, not a problem.

Trust me! This is going to work out.

Influx of migrants at NYC high school overflows classes, forces students to other building

By Kevin Sheehan, Khristina Narizhnaya and Isabel Keane

Published Sep. 7, 2023, 12:55 p.m. ET

With 21,000 new migrant students enrolled in schools across the Big Apple and new data released by the Department of Education Wednesday showing 36% of students were chronically absent last year, the situation at Newcomers could only get worse if the no-show students start attending class.

While the data indicates the city school system was still reeling post-pandemic, even before the influx of migrants arrived, it also may mean schools could become even more crowded as the year progresses.

Newcomers High School in Long Island City felt the strain from the migrant crisis on day one of the academic year, with a line to get in that stretched around the block and some students forced to go to another building to make room.

The line to enter Newcomers High School in Queens wrapped around the block Thursday morning.

Teachers outside the school told The Post they were already facing a massive capacity issue.

Paul Martinka

“It’s a capacity issue,” one exasperated teacher told The Post. “They should have worked this out two days ago!”

While some of the students thronging the school were clearly seen wearing their migrant shelter IDs, it was unclear exactly how many of the kids at Newcomers on Thursday were asylum seekers, as the Department of Education does not keep such records because it does not track the immigration status of students.

Chancellor David Banks, who spoke to students at PS 121 in the Bronx, said Thursday, “We are welcoming all these migrant students into our schools with open arms. We know it’s a larger political issue, and that the mayor and others have to deal with. But when they show up in our schools, they get the best that we have.”

Teachers stood outside Newcomers early Thursday directing students to either that school or another that shares the Newcomer building, Gotham Tech High School.

Unfortunately for the kids at Gotham, the number of students got so large that they were forced to leave the Newcomers building and head over to another nearby facility to take classes.

“The Gotham students are being pushed out to a facility across the street that the principal will be walking them over to this afternoon in groups,” a teacher told The Post. “Gotham only has three classrooms as of right now, I think.”

Another educator stood in front of the school’s entrance, yelling in Spanish, “If you have ID, the left door. No ID, the right door. You pick up your program in the auditorium.”

Students at Gotham, inside the Newcomers building, were escorted across the street to a different building.

Many of the migrant students were gleaming with excitement as they navigated the start to the day — some wearing their Queens shelter ID badges around their necks while others used Google Translate to communicate.

Others were less thrilled to see their school teeming with students.

For George Kara Lekas, a 14-year-old from Astoria starting at Gotham, the inconvenience of being crammed into a new building across the street from what should’ve been his school has him thinking about transferring.

“They gave us crap! No information! I’m getting a late start and I left early. I’m two subway stops away. I mean, look at this?!” the teen vented while waiting for his principal to usher him across the street.

“I’m going to try to transfer into the Academy of American Studies, like as soon as I can!” he said, glancing at a long line of migrant students before adding, “Yeah, it’s because of this! I think the Academy of American Studies will be much better. I think so.”

Other students seemed more accepting of their new classmates but were concerned about how overwhelming and unorganized the situation seemed.

Alex Gonzalez, a 14-year-old who already felt anxious ahead of his freshman year, was less than thrilled by the crowds Thursday morning.

“I wanted to get here early because I’m new. I’m going to be lost and so are all of these guys? I think they should have let them come a day before,” he told The Post.


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