Richmond Hill High School
QUEENS NY 11418 Map
Richmond Hill High School
Richmond Hill is a large, comprehensive high school founded at the turn of the 20th century. Like many large urban schools, Richmond Hill faces overcrowding and low graduation and attendance rates; and many students arrive ill-prepared for high school work. On the upside, the school offers students a nice variety of courses and extracurricular activities.
The school is housed in a large, 1920’s era building designed to accommodate 1800 students. Though enrollment at Richmond Hill is down from a high of 3600, overcrowding persists and the school is forced to hold some classes in red trailers set up in a fenced-in yard adjacent to the main building.
During the 2011-12 school year the Department of Education identified Richmond Hill as a poor performing school and announced that it would close in June 2012 and then reopen in September 2012 under a new name, with new leadership and a majority of new staff. Legal action against the city put those plans on hold so Richmond Hill remains open, though its principal of seven years, Francis DeSanctis chose not to return. Wayne Anderson, a former book editor–turned–teacher, was appointed interim acting principal in June 2012. Prior to his arrival at Richmond Hill, Anderson taught math for several years at Pathways College Preparatory School.
Richmond Hill students offer a mixed picture of their school in response to the Learning Environment Survey. A majority of students say they feel welcome in the school as well as supported and inspired to learn by their teachers. However more than one-quarter of the students who responded say they are not encouraged to develop challenging academic goals. Also, roughly one-third of students report not feeling safe in the hallways or outside the building on school property.
Students take a traditional load of classes required for graduation, supplemented by a career-themed program or “pathway” in business, law, engineering, health, forensics or design. Ninth-graders explore their options in an advisory class and at the end of their freshman year choose a pathway that they stick with through graduation.
Each pathway offers a unique set of required and elective courses related to its theme. For instance, students studying design take a 10th-grade introductory course and then choose from electives such as drawing, painting, CAD (computer aided design), digital photography and architectural design. In the engineering pathway, CAD and engineering design are required courses, but students can choose from electives such as architecture, robotics and biomedical engineering. Students are also encouraged to participate in career-themed activities such as internships and academic competitions like mock trial.
Advanced Placement courses are offered in calculus AB, computer science, English, Spanish and both American and global history. Motivated students can also enroll in select college courses at local schools such as St. Johns University and Queens College. Spanish is the only foreign language taught.
There are many sports teams and an eclectic mix of clubs and activities such as anime, art, student newspaper, short-story writing, student government, peer mediation and South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!). The school also offers English instruction for parents.
Facilities include an auditorium, library, indoor swimming pool, two gymnasiums, an indoor track that sits atop one of the gymnasiums and a rooftop space used for additional gym classes and activities.
Special education: The school offers a range of services, including self-contained classes (students with special needs only) and team teaching classes, which mix general education and special education students.
College admissions: Most graduates who attend college enroll in CUNY and SUNY schools. Many must take remedial courses at CUNY because of low scores on Regents exams, SATs or college prep courses.
Admissions: Queens residents have priority consideration. Applicants are selected according to the educational option formula designed to admit a mix of low, average and high achieving students. Zoned students have priority when applying to the “Zoned” option, also known as the Academic Comprehensive Program. (Laura Zingmond, statistics and news reports, January 2013).