Bayside High School
QUEENS NY 11361 Map
Bayside High School
Bayside is a big, well-functioning neighborhood school with specialized programs open to students from outside its attendance zone. Long known for its selective music and art programs, Bayside also has programs for high achieving students--one focused on the humanities and one on environmental science. Two other programs are designed to serve students with a range of abilities--in sports medicine and computer programming.
Although the Department of Education, at the request of parents and the administration, has reduced enrollment significantly in recent years, classes are jammed and the school operates on two staggered sessions. Still, for a student not intimidated by a big school -- and able to get to northeastern Queens -- Bayside could be an interesting place to spend four years. The school's size and programs convey a sense of activity and energy. Even on a Friday afternoon--when most schools are nearly empty--Bayside was bustling with students preparing for an afterschool track meet and an art show.
Partnerships with industry and grants help provide equipment, and Bayside's facilities seem more akin to those at a suburban high school than one in the city. This was particular striking in music classes with keyboards, computers and recording equipment, and in art where students used high-end computers and drawing tablets.
Students and teachers appear to interact easily, with lots of give and take. We saw students involved in projects and class discussions that seemed to capture their imaginations. In an anthropology class, one student explained his study of whether Amish young people return to the fold after venturing out into the secular world.
Principal Michael Athy says the new programs are designed to give useful job skills to students who want to work while attending college. He also created programs that didn't duplicate the successful offerings at Cardozo and Francis Lewis.
The Digital Art & Design program combines traditional studio art and journalism with digital technology; the instrumental and vocal Music: Performance & Production program has added studio recording to its course offerings. Students learn to perform and produce music. Beginners are welcome, as well as experienced musicians.
In Humanities & Non-Profit Management, students develop writing and presentation skills and learn to write grant proposals and develop and manage projects. Environmental Engineering & Technology gives students hands-on training in engineering and environmental science, helping them prepare for green careers.
The most unusual programs are ones that offer certificates in Career and Technical Education: Computer Programming & Web Design and Sports Medicine & Management. While most CTE programs are designed for students who plan to work after high school, Athy and his staff insist they want students to graduate with a marketable skill and also have academic preparation for college. Students in computer programming gain skills in web design and development. Students in sports medicine may get jobs as personal trainers after high school, while studying physiology or sports medicine in college. "All of our programs are designed so that kids can work in a field in an entry level capacity," said Assistant Principal Elizabeth Guglielmo.
The school offers many Advanced Placement classes--open not only to top students but also to those who may not have perfect grades but who are willing to put in the effort. Bayside teaches six languages: French, Spanish, Japanese, Latin, Korean and Chinese.
To make the big school less intimidating, Bayside has sharply reduced the caseload for guidance counselors to about 200. Although the school has no dedicated college counselors, each student has a guidance counselor who speaks his home language and who will, in Athy's words, "take the kid from being a frightened freshman to going to college." Counselors keep track of the kids' credit accumulation and encourage them to get involved in extracurriculars. "A big criticism of large schools is anonymity, [but] these 200 kids belong to one person," he said.
The school boasts a high rate of college admissions. Top students have been admitted to highly selective schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, and Stanford. A large proportion of students attend four-year colleges, including SUNY and CUNY schools.
Special education: About 400 students receive special education services. Most of the students with IEPs are in team teaching classes. The students in self-contained classes have different teachers for individual subjects and teachers are dually certified in their subjectr area and in special education--a rarity in the public schools.
Admission: Students within Bayside's zone may attend the zoned program but are encouraged to apply to one of the other programs, which are open to students from all over Queens. The art and music program require an audition; environmental science and humanities screen students based on grades and test scores. Computer programming and international relations are limited unscreened; and sports medicine uses the educational option method. (Gail Robinson, May 2012; updated October 2013 with changes in the six specialized programs offered at Bayside)