Civic Leadership Academy
QUEENS NY 11373 Map
Civic Leadership Academy
The Vision: A small, supportive school focused on service learning and leadership in the community.
The Reality: Civic Leadership Academy is a growing, close-knit community that opened in September 2008 in the Elmhurst Educational Center. "It's been like a roller coaster because we're trying to do more and more," said the ESL coordinator at the high school fair. "We finally have enough teachers to be able to offer more activities." A new music teacher is building up the program by offering an AP music theory course, mixed chorus and core music. After school he offers jazz chorus, keyboard and guitar ensemble. Other courses include psychology, forensics, bioethics and art. The parent coordinator teaches cooking and the dean coaches weight-training.
Founding Principal Phuong Nguyen was a special education teacher and a mentor teacher for several schools in Queens and Brooklyn. The first wave of students worked closely with the school's partner, the Child Center of New York, which was located in the building, but has since relocated. The Child Center provides counseling and service opportunities like peer mentoring and tutoring. Since the school lacks a full-time service learning coordinator, it has been difficult to build up other partnerships: "We do need to work on getting more community service projects at the school," said a guidance counselor. There are chances to serve and lead in school, as kids help plan fundraisers, dances, holiday-related activities and the Shakespeare Fair.
Students and parents seem pleased with the solid education at Civic Learning, according to the 2011 Learning Environment Survey. Suspensions are low and attendance is good. Ninth and 10th graders in honors English classes said they had read short stories by Edgar Allan Poe and books by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Emilio Paz. A 10th grader said she and her classmates were writing five-paragraph essays in English class and were preparing for the Regent's English exam.
The school does not have fields for official PSAL sports teams but kids can join football, baseball and bowling clubs after school. Aerobics, weight training and basketball are campus-wide, but Civic Leadership has its own gym. "We play games together, but we don't really have sports teams," said a teacher. "We're trying with football."
Children are supported in a variety of ways. A three-day summer bridge program is designed to help 9th graders feel comfortable through team-building activities. Tenth graders have an extra writing class. Tutoring and support from a trained student mentor is available after school. Eleventh and 12th graders email back and forth with adult mentors who provide a link to the professional working world and help with writing. Free SAT test prep is available on Saturdays. The school offers AP English, history and music theory. Strong students may also participate in classes at Queens College.
The school uniform is a polo shirt with the school logo and khaki pants. Polo shirts come in a variety of colors including pink, green, blue and black.
College Admissions: Two guidance counselors encourage kids to aim high: one student applied to Harvard and a couple of others to NYU and Barnard, as well as CUNY and other schools. The majority applied to in-state schools. The first class graduates in 2012.
Admissions: Limited unscreened. Priority is given to students who attend informational meetings such as an open house or a high school fair. (Lydie Raschka, interviews at the high school fair, November 2011)