Talent Unlimited High School

Phone: (212) 737-1530
Website: Click here
Admissions: audition
specialized arts
Principal: LINDA HAMIL
Neighborhood: Upper East Side
District: 2
Grade range: 09 thru 12

What's special:

Strong performing arts program

The downside:

Friction between the administration and faculty

The InsideStats



Our review

Talent Unlimited combines a strong performing arts program with engaging academics, preparing students either to go to a liberal arts college or on to conservatory training in musical theater, voice, instrumental music, drama or dance.

Housed in a wing of the Julia Richman Educational Complex on the Upper East Side, Talent Unlimited has its own entrance. It shares facilities such as a library and cafeteria with other schools in the building. The corridors could use some fresh paint and brighter lighting, but the classrooms are sunny. Students were consistently engaged in both their academic classes and their performing arts classes on the day of our visit.

Music classes are on the same floor as math classes; dance is on the same floor at science, and drama is on the same floor as English and social studies. This arrangement encourages teachers to integrate academics and art and to take advantage of students’ artistic talents to make academics more accessible.

Students read Shakespeare in English class--and act out scenes in drama. A math teacher gives a lesson on wave lengths, and the musicians learn about intervals and frequency. A science teacher makes a connection between radioactive decay and the rhythms that dancers understand. Students taking an introduction to engineering make props and sets for a school play.

While seniors at many New York City schools have a very light course load, Talent Unlimited encourages students to take four years of math and four years of science and about one-third of them do. The school offers a few Advanced Placement courses. Some students take courses at Hunter College, just a few blocks away. Under the leadership of Principal Linda Hamil and Assistant Principal Pierre Orbe, Talent Unlimited has become increasingly popular in recent years. Both the academic and the performing arts are stronger now than they were on our previous visits.

There is some friction between the administration and faculty. Two-thirds of the teachers responding to the Learning Environment Survey in 2012 said the principal was a poor manager, and nearly half said the principal does not put children’s interests above other concerns. A disgruntled staffer wrote Insideschools that the principal spent more time on her Broadway shows than on the kids. Hamil, a former actress, is proud of her work as a producer of plays such as the “Scottsboro Boys.” However, she acknowledged that the survey was a “wakeup call” and she is committed to improving relations with the staff. [The Learning Environment Survey for 2013 showed improved relations between the principal and staff. However, about one-quarter of teachers responding to the survey said the principal is a poor manager who does not put children's interests above other concerns.]

College admissions: A few students have won POSSE scholarships to the University of Southern California and Wheaton College in Massachusetts. One dance student was admitted to Juilliard.

Admissions: Students may audition in dance, drama, voice, instrumental or musical theater. Applicants should score level 2-4 on standardized exams and have an 80 average or above in academic classes. There are weekly tours from September to December. (Clara Hemphill, January 2012)

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