Brooklyn Community High School of Communication, Arts and Media

300 WILLOUGHBY AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11205 Map
Phone: (718) 230-5748
Website: Click here
Admissions: Citywide, limited unscreened
Principal: James O'Brien
Neighborhood: Bedford-Stuyvesant
District: 13
Grade range: 09 thru 12
Parent Coordinator: DAWN FLYNN

Buses: B38, B44, B48, B52, B54, B57, B62

What's special:

Students get four years of arts instruction

The downside:

Shared middle school building; few PSAL sports & no dedicated college counselor

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

At Brooklyn Community High School for Communication, Arts and Media (BCAM) students get four years of instruction in the arts, real world experience with internships and the opportunity to display their work in professional art galleries.

Only about one-third of the students choose BCAM because they are interested in the arts; others choose it for its strong academics, said Principal James O’Brien. Art provides the core curriculum at the school where every student get hands-on experience and  must assemble a portfolio of their work as a requirement for graduation. They also must pass the required Regents exams.

BCAM is one of four schools that share a middle school building in a rapidly gentrifying residential area of Bedford Stuyvesant. On the first floor are a transfer high school, Brooklyn High School for Leadership and Community Service and PS 369, a District 75 school for students with special needs. Peace Academy middle school is on the second floor. BCAM occupies the entire third floor. All four schools share the basement lunchroom, outdoor schoolyard, and other public spaces, creating some logistical challenges. In a 2010 upgrade, the building got six new “million dollar” science labs, two of which BCAM uses for physics and chemistry, O’Brien said.

Students wear simple uniforms of polo shirts and slacks or jeans, four days a week and may wear what they wish on “fresh Fridays.” As they pass between classes, instead of bells, the ‘batter up' melody familiar to Yankees fans signals the beginning of the new class period. Student ‘cohorts' change every quarter, so there's ample opportunity to mix with different peers throughout the year.

The most distinctive elements of BCAM's curriculum are the 3-day-a-week community arts and media electives-–called seminars here-–which are taught both by BCAM faculty and some outside artists. Students may choose to take academic subjects, such a certain literature genre, or arts-oriented seminars such as music production, hip-hop poetry or dance.

Students start with a foundations art course in 9th grade and later get instruction in digital photography, video production and graphic design among other specialties. A Pratt Institute-trained art teacher helps students create Chuck Close-style autobiographic portraits using tools like Photoshop.

According to O’Brien, the curriculum is “inquiry-based” and frequently involves community service and social issues. In an after school project that includes schools in Rio de Janeiro and Amsterdam, students are studying gentrification. Sponsored by an organization called World Up, the students from three different countries will produce a global music album.

Bringing students up to and above grade level is critical at BCAM, where most students arrive under-prepared for high school work. They participate in advisories for all four years, with a single faculty member as advisory leader, to foster strong relationships. Spanish is the only foreign language taught.

College admissions: A two year grant from CUNY brought a ”bevy of college prep” resources to the school, says O’Brien, although the school doesn't have the budget for a dedicated college counselor. Students may enroll in College Now courses with John Jay College of Criminal Justice and City Tech. Most graduates go to CUNYs and SUNYs with a handful going to arts school. Three graduates are now at Pratt on full scholarships.

After school: Students may participate in after school arts and sports clubs, do community services projects and get academic tutoring. Boys basketball is the only PSAL sport.

Admissions: Citywide. Students who attend an open house or otherwise express interest in the school have priority. (Helen Zelon, February 2008/updated Pamela Wheaton, interviews & Web reports, September 2012)

InsideStats

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At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the former IS 117 Building

Number of Students 401

Average Daily Attendance 82%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
1%

Black

  
75%

Hispanic

  
20%

White

  
2%

Free Lunch

  
86%

Special ed

  
19%

English Language Learners

  
3%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.60 2.80 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


1 = Far below grade level 2 = Below grade level 3 = At grade level 4 = Above grade level

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

25 24 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

63% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

76% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

How many students say they feel safe in hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?

84% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

83% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

46% 34% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2013

How many 2009 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

70% 66% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2007 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

76% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many 2008 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

66% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen earned an advanced regents diploma within 4 years?

0% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2006 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

71% 73% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen dropped out within 4 years?

9% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

College prep

Does this school offer a college preparatory curriculum?

How many students took an AP or IB class and scored at least a "3" on the AP exam or a "4" on the IB exam?

2%

How Many Students took a College Course and Got a "C" or Higher?

46%

How many students passed a Regents exam for algebra 2, physics or chemistry?

9%

Are students ready for college?

How many 2009 freshmen graduated in four years with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?

17% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

373
414 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 496 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2009 freshmen graduated in four years and enrolled in college?

51%

SAT math scores

373
425 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 514 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

How many students say that this school provides helpful counseling on college or job-seeking?

78% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students starting school in 2008 graduated within 4 years?

60% 44% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students starting school in 2006 graduated within 6 years?

44% 53% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students with disabilities spend most of the day with non-disabled peers?

100% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

80% 88% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners starting school in 2008 graduated within 4 years?

38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners starting school in 2006 graduated within 6 years?

57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Priority to New York City residents who attend an information session
  2. Then to New York City residents

Source: High school directory

Brooklyn Community High School of Communications, Arts and Media

Limited Unscreened

Academics

AP COURCES: English Literature and Composition, Statistics

Online: N/A

Language classes: French, Spanish

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Academic Centers, Animation, Batik T-Shirt Printing, Boxing, Capoeira, College Now, College Preparatory Courses, Fashion, Filmmaking, Hip-Hop African Dance, Hip-Hop/Spoken Word Poetry, Internships, Journalism, Music Production, Peer Mentoring, Portfolio Development, Spirit Squad Dance Team, Student Government, Student Publishing, Theater, Weightlifting, Yoga

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Football

Other schools sports: Basketball, Flag Football, Soccer, Track & Field, Weightlifting

Source: High school directory

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