Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design

An Insideschools pick
257 NORTH 6 STREET
BROOKLYN NY 11211 Map
Phone: (718) 388-1260
Website: Click here
Admissions: Limited unscreened, Brooklyn priority
Principal: Gill Cornell
Neighborhood: Williamsburg
District: 14
Grade range: 9-12
Parent Coordinator: Lai Sin Chu
Architecture
Vocational

Buses: B24, B32, B39, B44, B44-SBS, B46, B48, B60, B62, Q54, Q59

What's special:

Students get professional training in architectural design and preservation arts, paid internships

The downside:

No elective classes

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design (WHSAD) is a small school that lives up to its theme in a big way. Students follow a rigorous four-year curriculum in architecture, design and historic preservation, and get hands-on instruction in everything from drafting architectural plans and building models to mixing mortar and learning computer programs used by professional architects. The school accepts students of all abilities and gets them to succeed: Many graduate with a CTE (career and technical education) endorsed diploma and some college credits.

Gill Cornell, a former English teacher who came to WHSAD as assistant principal in 2007, became principal in 2009. He has built up a robust internship program with juniors or seniors placed in paid internships in architecture, arts, community engagement, design and preservation.

Freshmen and sophomores participate in service programs that tie into the school’s theme. One group designed and constructed tree guards to install throughout the surrounding neighborhood. Others worked with Groundswell, a community arts organization, to create public art projects such as a mural on display at Ellis Island, depicting its history.

Walk into any of the shop classes and you can see hands-on and applied learning in action. In the 11th-grade shop that focuses on design, students seemed relaxed, engaged and happy as they spread out across the expansive room—some worked at tables, translating a sketched design into a sewn pattern, others retrieved supplies and still others put the finishing touches on bigger projects. In a computer lab, students worked quietly, drafting room layouts according to very detailed specifications.

Visual arts and design skills are woven into architecture work. “A lot of kids know CAD (computer aided design) but not design graphics,” said Cornell who explained that developing technical skills and the more abstract and creative skills associated with design are equally important in the architecture industry.

In 9th grade, students begin drawing with T-squares, and are introduced to AutoCAD and Autodesk. In the upper grades they delve more deeply into computerized programs and design skills, including electrical wiring, wood-working, drawing and creating 3-D models in various mediums (plaster, clay, metal and wood).

Academics do not get short shrift, and teachers often find ways to connect lessons to the CTE curriculum. All students take four years of math, a very important subject for aspiring builders and architects. One teacher showed us references to logorithms in a textbook on electrical work. The school-wide emphasis on design principles helped a group of 9th-graders win first place in the U.S. Department of Energy’s BioengizeME competition for their research and infographic on cellulosic ethanol.

Through a partnership with Park Avenue Armory, teaching artists work with WHSAD teachers to connect academic studies to arts and preservation work. Students recite poetry, perform their re-interpretation of scenes from plays read in English such as “The Crucible” and “Macbeth,” and design and construct the sets and props for an annual performance held at the armory.

To help bolster literacy and deepen students’ understanding of history, 10th- and 11th-graders take courses on historical speeches in addition to their regular global and U.S. history classes.

There are a handful of Advanced Placement courses and students can also take free college courses for credit at New York City College of Technology. During school breaks students can participate in “field school” where they work on building restoration projects.

The school is roughly 75 percent male, but girls who attend are motivated by the school’s theme and thrive, says Cornell.

Students who fail a course repeat it in "night school," which runs from 2:45 to 5:45 pm. “This is not credit recovery,” said Cornell. “Students have to do real classwork. No one is getting away with just writing a paper to pass.”

There are no elective classes because students’ schedules are packed with academic and shop classes. Students participate in building-wide PSAL sports teams; clubs include Girls Who Code, photography and music.

Housed in the Van Arsdale building, WHSAD shares the facilities with Brooklyn Prep and Williamsburg Prep. Each school has its own dedicated space in the building.

Though located in a safe area of Williamsburg, students in all three schools must pass through metal detectors on their way into the building. Cornell approves, saying it keeps the school safe. Students and staff give the school high marks for safety and overall vibe based on their responses to the NYC School Survey.

In an attempt to boost parent involvement, parents are expected to collaborate with their children on in-school projects twice a year.

The graduation rate is high and many graduates go to either two- or four-year colleges, including art and technical schools. Some graduates obtain good-paying jobs and paid apprenticeships straight after high school. There is no college counselor, but there are four guidance counselors that provide college support. Each counselor follows the same class of students for all four years. Volunteers from New York Cares provide SAT prep and college essay writing help.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are ICT classes and SETSS as well as a full-time social worker on staff.

ADMISSIONS: Priority to Brooklyn students or residents who attend an information session. (Laura Zingmond, March 2015)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

Harry Van Arsdale Educational Campus

Number of Students 595

Average Daily Attendance 91%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? Yes

Students at this school

Asian

  
2%

Black

  
32%

Hispanic

  
60%

White

  
4%

Free Lunch

  
77%

Special ed

  
26%

English Language Learners

  
4%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.31 2.40 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

31 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

98% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

94% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

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

100% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

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

94% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

27% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2014

How many students graduated within 4 years?

91% 73% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

88% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many students graduated within 4 years?

90% 65% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates earned an advanced regents diploma within 4 years?

27% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

90% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates dropped out within 4 years?

7% 10% 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?

0%

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

13%

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

38%

Are students ready for college?

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

28% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

415
418 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 497 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated in four years and enrolled in college?

65% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT math scores

429
426 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 513 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

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

95% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students graduated within 4 years?

67% 47% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students graduated within 6 years?

81% 54% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

100% 89% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners graduated within 4 years?

37% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners graduated within 6 years?

56% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Priority to Brooklyn students or residents who attend an information session
  2. Then to New York City residents who attend an information session
  3. Then to Brooklyn students or residents
  4. Then to New York City residents

Source: High school directory 2014-2015

Architecture and Design

Limited Unscreened

Introduction to historic architectural preservation, architecture, engineering and design concepts. Students participate in a professional internship and college portfolio review.

Academics

AP COURSES: Calculus AB, English Language and Composition, Human Geography, Spanish Language and Culture, United States History

Source: High school directory 2014-2015

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Students organize to establish clubs that interest them. Students have organized clubs such as the video game club, architecture club, photography club, peer tutoring, and skateboarding club. WHSAD invites honor roll students to free incentive field trips at the end of each marking period. Past trips have included court-side seats to a Brooklyn Nets basketball game, ice skating at Central Park, as well as Broadway plays and musicals.

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Baseball, Basketball, Handball, Indoor Track, JV Basketball, Outdoor Track, Volleyball

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Softball, Volleyball

Other schools sports: Cheerleading, Co-ed Soccer Club, Dance, Girls Flag Football, Step

Source: High school directory 2014-2015

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