High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture

94-06 104TH STREET
QUEENS NY 11416 Map
Phone: (718) 846-6280
Website: Click here
Admissions: Selective; review of grades & attendance
unzoned
vocational
alternative
Noteworthy
Principal: Lakeisha Gordon
Neighborhood: Ozone Park
District: 27
Grade range: 09 thru 12
Parent coordinator: AUDREY GRAVES

What's special:

Hands-on projects in construction and engineering

The downside:

Very limited art, music, and foreign languages; poor subway access

The InsideStats

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Our review

Each spring, seniors at the High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture build a house in the yard behind the school. (The following fall, a new class of seniors takes it down again.) Other students make architectural plans and construct 3-D models; learn how to install energy efficient wiring; and study the principles of engineering.

For some, the school leads to unionized apprenticeships in the construction trades. For others, it offers a strong background in engineering or architecture that prepares them for a four-year college.

Opened in 2006 in a new building in Ozone Park, the school has become a popular choice for students looking for in-depth career education and hands-on projects. Almost everyone graduates on time, and about one-quarter receive the demanding Advanced Regents diploma.

Attendance is high and the school is orderly. On our visit, class changes were smooth, and students seemed happy. Students in career classes were excited about their projects and eagerly explained them.

"It's fun. It brings out your creative side," one student told us.

"There's not much to complain about here," another said.

Students apply to one of the three programs: architecture, engineering or construction trades. In 9th grade, all students in the school take an introductory course in their major, followed by two periods a day in 10th through 12th grades.

Architecture students learn drafting and design. Engineering students identify a problem and design and build an invention to solve it. Having identified their dilemma as going back to sleep after the alarm goes off, two students weighed solutions such as incorporating a snooze alarm equipped with a hand buzzer to jolt any slugabed.

In the construction program, students take a year each in electrical work, carpentry and electrical mechanical. completing their studies by erecting a house their senior year.. The school has been seeking state Career and Technical Education certification for all three programs.

The school also offers the standard complement of academic subjects, including Advanced Placement classes. All first year students take a nonfiction literacy class in addition to English. Unfortunately, the school only offers one year of Spanish and one studio art course—the minimum graduation requirements.

The academic classes, if lacking some of the energy of the career classes, engaged most students. In 10th grade, student grappled with what constitutes genocide, while 9th graders reading the memoir "The Color of Water" discussed what effect religion had on the characters' lives.

The school has a full-time college counselor. About 95 percent of students go to college, with CUNY and other local schools the most popular choices. Another staff member works with students who want to go into a union apprenticeship program.

There has been a high rate of teacher turnover as well as friction between the administration and the faculty. Some teachers complain that Lakeisha Gordon, principal since 2010, has poor management and communication skills, according to the Learning Environment Surveys. In 2012, two teachers sued Gordon saying they were terminated unfairly. Assistant Principal Steven Wynn told us that some staff members resisted Gordon’s efforts to "raise the bar;" he added that the administration was meeting with teachers to try to improve communication. Gordon was on maternity leave at the time of our visit.

Special education: The school has team teaching classes and other services but no self-contained classes. The building also houses a District 75 program for students with more severe disabilities. Some of its students participate in an inclusion program that allows them to attend classes at the high school of construction trades.

Admission: Students with standardized test scores Level 2 or above and grades of at least 75 in core academic subjects may apply. Preference is given to students who attend HCAT's open house. Although the school has screened admission, the administration encourages students with fairly low middle school test scores to apply. The school is open to all New York City students, although the nearest subway is not close. (Gail Robinson, March 2013)

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