High School for Arts and Business
QUEENS NY 11368 Map
High School for Arts and Business
High School for Arts and Business is a medium-size school that offers some large school perks. Students can study commercial or fine arts, take courses in business management, participate in PSAL sports and after school clubs and choose from a selection of Advanced Placement classes on scale with many large and selective high schools. Founded in 1997 to help alleviate overcrowding at Newtown High School, Arts & Business still draws many students zoned for Newtown, but also attracts kids from across Queens and other boroughs too.
Most students come from poor families and many are immigrants or first generation Americans. Typical 9th graders start school performing below grade level, although Arts & Business is starting to attract high achievers, according to principal Ana Zambrano-Burakov. In recent years the school has added honors sections for select math and science classes. Stronger students take single-period English classes that cover more advanced work. Students needing extra support take double-period English classes that place more emphasis on fundamental skills.
What the school does best is ensure that all students enjoy opportunities beyond core academics. Starting in 9th grade students pursue concentrations in either arts or business. Art offerings include painting, drawing, photography, design and graphic design. In the Virtual Enterprise program, students take classes in computer applications and business management, and spend their senior year running a mock silver and gold trading company. Students can also take classes in dance, instrumental music, music theory and can participate in chorus or one of the school's two bands.
Since its inception, Arts & Business has been committed to offering Advanced Placement classes to all students, not just high achievers. About one-third of all students take at least one AP class before graduation, and a core group of motivated students take multiple AP classes, some as early as 10th grade. AP courses include American History, World History, Calculus, Computer Science, English, Environmental Science, Psychology, Spanish Language Arts and Spanish Literature.
Foreign languages taught include French, Italian and Spanish. For Spanish, there's a three-tiered curriculum with separate classes for native speakers, heritage speakers (educated in English, but exposed to Spanish in their homes) and non-native speakers (both educated and raised in English-only settings).
Despite the nice offerings, many students struggle. During our visit in early June, we observed several Regents review classes geared for students who failed the exam at least once before. Though the graduation rate is above average, the school is working to boost its college enrollment. Zambrano-Burakov said that more than 90 percent of graduating seniors are admitted to college, but some don't attend because of finances. Undocumented students present a particular challenge for the school. "We have smart students who get into college, but can't go because they can't afford tuition and they can't get a job to pay for it," Zambrano-Burakov said. "We have some who were born here, but their parents are undocumented, so they are too afraid to fill out aid forms."
In 2011, the facilities got a much-needed upgrade – windows. Prior to their installation the entire two-story building, a former bowling alley, was windowless. There are no outdoor facilities. Sports teams practice at Flushing Meadows Park. The building also houses a Young Adult Borough Center (also known as a YABC), which runs evening classes for Queens students who want to graduate, but were unsuccessful in a traditional high school.
The school fields several PSAL sports teams and offers roughly 30 different clubs and extra-curricular activities ranging from cooking and dungeons and dragons to chess, fitness club and student government.
Special education: There are ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) classes. For English language learners (ELLs), the school offers bilingual (Spanish-English) instruction sections for all math, science and social studies classes required for graduation.
Admissions: Priority to students zoned for Newtown High School, then to Queens residents, and then to students citywide. Students are admitted according to the educational option formula designed to ensure a mix of low, average and high achievers.
College admissions: Most students who attend college after graduation enroll in CUNY and SUNY schools. Some graduates attend private colleges including Ivy League schools. Each year the law firm of O'Melveny & Meyers awards scholarships to three graduates. To encourage more students to attend college, the parent association helps very poor students by sponsoring tuition for their first semester. "That gives them extra time to find a job to pay for the rest of college," said parent coordinator, Cira Herrera. (Laura Zingmond, June, 2012)