Newcomers High School
QUEENS NY 11101 Map
Newcomers High School
Opened in 1995, Newcomers High School remains true to its founding mission of being a gateway to American education for newly arrived immigrants. Unlike most high schools for new immigrants, which keep their students until they graduate, Newcomers' encourages students to transfer into regular high schools.
Students who enter in the 9th grade usually stay for only one year. However, those entering in the upper grades usually remain until graduation.
Most students come from China and Latin American countries. In recent years, an increasing number hail from countries such as Poland, Haiti, Tibet, Portugal, Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh.
Orlando Sarmiento became principal at the start of the 2009-10 school. A member of Newcomer's founding faculty, Sarmiento taught social studies and more recently served as assistant principal at the school.
With roughly 900 students, all learning English, language plays a main role in every aspect of instruction. Students spend up to half their day in English classes, all geared towards English language learners and grouped according to level of fluency. All subjects that culminate in a Regents exam, such as Algebra, Global History, or Living Environment, are taught in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
Every teacher has at least some training in English as a Second Language (ESL). Many have lived outside the United States and are fluent in a second language. In classes, teachers ensure all students speak up. When discussing a passage in a book or reviewing an assignment, someone is always asked to read the material aloud. For group work, teachers often ask students to partner with classmates who do not speak the same native language. It's common to come across a group of four or five students working together, none of whom speaks the same native language.
Classes run an hour, rather than the typical 40 minute period, to allow students more time to digest lessons and teachers more flexibility with assignments. Beyond core academics, students enjoy instruction in art, dance, music, and business.
There's a school orchestra and chorus and a popular media program in which students film and edit their own public service announcements. Advanced Placement classes are offered in U.S. Government, AB and BC Calculus, and Spanish, French, and Chinese language studies.
Students use iPods for self-paced tutorials. The library is stocked with books in 35 different languages as well as a large selection of easy-to-read titles in English.
Students, parents and teachers all expressed favorable views of the school in the 2011-12 Learning Environment Survey. An overwhelming majority of parents, students and teachers said the school is safe. Teachers gave high marks to Sarmiento and almost all who responded that they would not want to work any place else. Most students responded that they get extra help when they need it and have a wide enough variety of classes and activities to keep them interested. However, nearly half of students said they feel uncomfortable talking to teachers or adults at their school about something that's bothering them.
The school evaluates every student individually for language and academic skill level and has a class targeting students performing significantly below grade level.
The school has a full-time college counselor.
Family participation is good, according to the school's parent coordinator, Eduardo Duarte. "We usually have a high number at PA meetings and nice attendance at school events."
Newcomers is housed in an early 20th-century red brick building within walking distance of the Queensborough Bridge and Queensborough Plaza subway station. It shares the building with the Academy of American Studies. The schools share use the gymnasium, auditorium, library, and cafeteria. Newcomers has exclusive use of two computer labs and a media center equipped with sophisticated film production and editing equipment. The only outdoor facility is a massive cement yard, half of which is used for faculty parking. Sports teams practice at Flushing Meadows Park. The swim team practices at Long Island City High School.
Special education: Newcomers does not provide special education services because new immigrants are not formally evaluated for special needs before entering the education system.
After school: Sports teams include basketball, soccer, tennis, swimming, handball, volleyball, and cricket. Academic support is offered after school as well as a variety of clubs such as yearbook, dance, painting, and cartooning.
Admissions: Students enroll throughout the school year. Admission is limited to students who have been in the United States less than one year and completed the equivalent of the 8th grade in their native country. Most students who enter Newcomers in the 9th grade transfer to their neighborhood Queens high schools, though some are accepted to selective programs and specialized high schools. (Laura Zingmond, March 2009, updated August, 2012)