Bard High School Early College Queens

30-20 THOMSON AVENUE
QUEENS NY 11101 Map
Phone: (718) 361-3133
Website: Click here
Admissions: Selective
unzoned
selective
Noteworthy
Principal: VALERI THOMSON
Neighborhood: Long Island City
District: 24
Grade range: 09 thru 12

What's special:

Small classes, college-level courses, good class discussions

The downside:

Not many extracurricular activities, no special education services

The InsideStats

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Our review

Bard High School Early College Queens has small classes, engaging class discussions and a challenging curriculum that prepares students equally well in the humanities and in science. Like its sister school in Manhattan, Bard Queens compresses the work of four years of high school and two years of college into four years, and students graduate with both a high school diploma and a two-year associates degree.

It's a serious place. Even at lunchtime in the cafeteria, we saw some kids studying rather than relaxing with friends. But some kids said that for them, school work is fun. In nearly every class we visited, students were engaged in lively discussions. They talked about what it means to be human in a class on the Epic of Gilgamesh and pondered why people vote for corrupt politicians in Caribbean literature class on Jamaica Kincaid's A Small Place. Most of the teachers have PhDs. They are passionate about their work and experts in their fields. Students may choose Latin, Chinese or Spanish. Founding Principal Valeri Thomson, who was director of a science research program at Bard College, encourages students to take part in their professors’ research projects. Most classes have about 20 students.

Housed in leased space on the 6th and 7th floors of an office building that also houses the High School of Applied Communication and the Academy of Finance and Enterprise, Bard Queens has sunny rooms and well-lit corridors that circle an interior atrium. White walls and dark green lockers give the space a crisp, clean feel. There are dance studios, an art room and a small theater, but no gymnasium. Physical education is taught in an exercise room.

About three-quarters of the students come from Queens, and they reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the borough. Students speak 34 languages at home. There is a nice mix of black, white, Latino and Asian among both the students and the faculty. While most kids wear standard teen apparel of blue jeans and T-shirts, Muslim girls feel comfortable wearing headscarves.

Homework is demanding, and students often spend three hours a night or more studying. "Most kids find it's more than they expected, even though they expected a lot," said Pat Sharp, dean of students. Each year, a handful of students who cannot keep up with the workload are asked to leave.

Students say the extracurricular activities are limited. For example, a group of girls interested in starting a Step team said they couldn’t find a faculty adviser. However, there are a number of sports teams, including soccer, track, wrestling and basketball.

Special education: No special education services are offered, although a few students receive extra time on tests to compensate for mild learning disabilities.

Admissions: Students must have an 85 average and 3's or 4's on 7th grade state math and ELA exams to be admitted. Students must also complete the school's own writing and math assessment. A joint admissions committee screens applications for Bard Queens and the original Bard High School Early College in Manhattan. (Clara Hemphill, September 2010)

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