High School of Graphic Communication Arts

439 WEST 49TH STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10019 Map
Phone: (212) 245-5925
Website: Click here
Admissions: No new admits
unzoned
vocational
alternative
specialized arts
Principal: Brendan Lyons
Neighborhood: West Midtown
District: 2
Grade range: 09 thru 12

What's special:

Very cool Mac and photo labs

The downside:

Closing because of poor performance

The InsideStats

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Our review

JUNE 2013 UPDATE: The High School of Graphic Communication Arts is being phased out and replaced after years of poor performance. No new students were admitted in September 2013, and the phase-out will be completed in June 2016. The DOE has proposed to open and co-locate a new district high school in the building.

OCTOBER 2011 REVIEW: The High School of Graphic Communication Arts trains students to work in digital photography and digital printing. Founded as the High School of Printing in 1925, the school has replaced its outdated printing presses with shiny Mac labs where students learn desktop publishing and video editing with programs like Photoshop and Final Cut Pro.  

A Career and Technical Education (CTE) school, Graphic Communications is designed to train students for a trade as well as offer them regular academic classes. It faces many challenges. Attendance is poor and graduation rates are low. Students must pass through metal detectors to get to class. A majority of students responding to the 2010-11 NYC School Survey said students are disrespectful to teachers and to one another.

However, Brendon Lyons, who became principal in 2011, has brought new ideas and new energy. He hired student aides to telephone classmates if they miss school. He gave teachers common planning times so they can discuss students’ progress and coordinate lessons. He is working with his staff to ensure that the training the students receive prepares them for current jobs in industry—and not for yesterday’s trades.

Lyons, who taught at the progressive Central Park East High School and a number of schools in Manhattan and the Bronx, believes the best way to improve attendance is to make classes so exciting that students will want to come to school. At least in the classes we visited, his strategy seemed to be paying off: students in the photo dark room, an English class and a digital printing class were focused and engaged in their work. Class changes were calm, with no signs of rough-housing.

The school has long had a Navy Junior ROTC program, which emphasizes leadership training, community service and citizenship. Students march and drill in lieu of physical education.

Special education: Nearly 300 students receive special education services, including "self-contained" classes and Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT). Nearly 200 are designated as English language learners.

The building also houses two small schools, The Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology and The Business of Sports School. Students are admitted to Graphcic Communication based on the educational option formula. (Clara Hemphill,October 2011)

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