Adlai E. Stevenson Educational Campus
Adlai E. Stevenson Educational Complex houses nine small schools that share sports teams, a library, and a cafeteria. While students must pass through metal detectors to go to class, teachers and administrators agree the building is much calmer than when it housed the old Adlai Stevenson High school, which closed in June 2009 after years of poor performance.
For a lot of students, sports are the draw. The building PSAL teams include boys’ football, soccer, volley ball, baseball, track and girls’ basketball, bowling, soccer, softball, and tennis.
Each small school has a different mission. The Millennium Art Academy offers engaging classes in art and photography as well as a strong academic program.
The Bronx Guild High School offers an unusual program in which students attend class two or three days a week and have internships on the remaining days. The school has a relaxed tone and a good graduation rate. Bronx Compass opened in 2012 as a new high school for creative kids who like art, science and technology and want a say in how and what they will learn.
Pablo Neruda Academy for Architecture and World Studies offers classes in art and architecture. Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Academy serves kids in grades 6 to 12. Bronx Bridges High School, is designed to serve new immigrants who are learning English. Bronx Community High School is a transfer school for older students who need a fresh start.
The Department of Education has announced plans to phase out two schools in the building, School for Community Research and Learning, and Gateway Academy for Environmental Research and Technology. While these schools helped some kids succeed, their overall performance was not good, according to the DOE.
Whatever struggles the new small schools have, the building has come a long way since our visit in 2002, when we saw one young person led out of the school in handcuffs and three students, accompanied by their parents, request "safety transfers" to enroll at other schools. As we waited to speak to the administrator who gave us our tour that day, we overheard one child tell a counselor "I don't want to be here." The counselor replied "I don't want to be here either."
On our recent visit, morale was understandably low in the two schools that the DOE has vowed to close. Suspension rates remain high and attendance remains low. Nonetheless, class changes were orderly trhoughout the building, teachers were working hard, and hundreds of kids seemed to be getting a good education. (Clara Hemphill, January 2012, updated March 2013)