Jamaica High School
Jamaica High School, perched high on a hill and surrounded by manicured lawns, has a majestic façade and an entrance adorned with Art Deco lamps and gold crown moldings. The building has amenities such as a swimming pool and a football field. Unfortunately, students must pass through metal detectors and security is tight, with safety officers gathering at the end of the school day to minimize incidents.
For years, Jamaica suffered from poor academic performance and a high rate of suspensions. The Department of Education decided in 2011 to phase out Jamaica High School and replace it with small themed schools in the building. Jamaica's final students graduated in 2014. Although it is too soon to say whether the new schools will succeed, the students we talked to said they felt safe.
Jamaica Gateway to the Sciences, formerly a program in Jamaica High School, opened as its own school in 2011. The program prepares minority students interested in exploring the sciences and mathematics for college, especially in medicine and related fields.
Queens Collegiate, which opened in 2008, has a challenging college prep curriculum, a strong sense of community and a vibrant, family feel. It has begun to attract students who might once have chosen private schools or better-known public schools.
The schools share facilities and sports teams. Jamaica has an impressive roster of PSAL sports, including baseball, basketball, football, golf, handball, track, soccer, swimming, tennis, volleyball and wrestling. (Aryn Bloodworth, January 2012; updated June 2014)