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Sound Bites: Put a Blue Ribbon on that school

In this Nov. 7, 2019, photo, Crosby High School algebra teacher Jennifer Desiderio works with freshman students in her class in Waterbury, Conn. While students in the Waterbury public school district are predominantly black and Hispanic, the vast majority of its educators, as in school districts across the country, are white. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Jessica Hill
A teacher works with freshman students in her class in Waterbury, Conn.

Good Morning! 

Several Connecticut and Long Island public schools were named U.S. Department of Education 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The Blue Ribbon is awarded nationwide annually to schools who demonstrate overall high achievement or success in closing achievement gaps. More than 350 schools received the award across the country this year, including:

  • Marine Science Magnet High School in Groton, CT
  • Amagansett School in Amagansett, NY
  • Philip R. Smith School in South Windsor, CT
  • George A. Jackson Elementary School in Jericho, NY
  • Skinner Road School in Vernon, CT
  • Denton Avenue Elementary School in New Hyde Park, NY
  • Stamford Charter School for Excellence in Stamford, CT

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we are hearing:

South Shore University Hospital broke ground on a new $468 million hospital pavilion on Wednesday. The six-story pavilion will expand patient access to advanced cardiac, neuroscience, and trauma services. The hospital’s parent company Northwell Health expects the pavilion to support 5,000 new patients annually. The project is expected to be finished by mid-2025.

Two people were arrested for the theft of an Aston Martin in Westport. A man was attacked in his garage on Sunday before the car was stolen. Police arrested Berlin resident Derrick McGill with four counts of first-degree larceny and one count of illegally operating a chop shop after authorities found him in possession of the sports car and several other stolen vehicles. An unidentified Waterbury teen was arrested for robbery by carjacking and assault.

A program to help Long Island firefighters and ambulance workers afford housing was expanded. The EHAP is designed to help recruit and retain emergency service employees struggling to purchase homes amid high real estate costs. The program provides employees $26,000 in public funds for down payment assistance to purchase a home and an additional $24,000 to improve the property after purchase.

Connecticut will pay $25.2 million to settle a lawsuit from two men who were wrongfully convicted for murder in the 1980s. Shawn Henning and Ricky Birch were charged with the murder of New Milford resident Everett Carr. The State Supreme Court reversed their conviction in 2018 after the court found that the state’s forensic scientist Henry Lee fabricated evidence tying the teenagers to the crime. The pair were imprisoned for over 30 years.

The New York State Bar Association released a new guide in response to the Supreme Court ruling that overruled affirmative action programs in the college admissions process. The association recommends universities focus less on standardized test results, and instead focus on how applicants may further a school’s goals and values, consider a student’s socioeconomic status in admissions decisions, and provide scholarships for low-income students, among other proposals.

Tourism spending on Long Island reached pre-pandemic highs in 2022, according to a report from the travel analytic company, Tourism Economics. Tourists spent a record breaking total of $6.6 billion last year, a 14% increase from the prior year. More than 56% of the tourism dollars were spent in Suffolk County. More than a third was paid at Long Island bars and restaurants. This high spending cost generated $464 million in local taxes.

Some New Yorkers have been struggling to receive new COVID-19 vaccines amid slowly increasing infection rates. Residents attempted to receive free vaccines but were faced with $120 fines or were told to wait for a later date instead. These barriers were a result of federal pandemic vaccine funding being cut off last spring as infection rates died down. Medicaid, Medicare, and insurance companies have since begun to cover vaccine costs. Insurance companies and other federal programs are expected to cover costs again by the end of the week.

In-state students are more likely to be accepted into University of Connecticut than out-of-state or international students. According to data from UConn, 90% of in-state high schoolers who applied to the university were accepted in the past two years. Meanwhile, the university’s overall admission rate, including out-of-state and international students, was found to be 75%. UConn applications rose by 13% this year with more than 48,000 applicants.

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Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.