The Cinema School
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The Cinema School
The Cinema School is a promising new high school in the Bronx for bright students who want to explore their creative vision through film. The school’s lead partner is the Ghetto Film School, a non-profit organization, which provides film and production education, industry internships, and a guest lecture series.
The four-year Cinema Studies curriculum includes filmmaking 101, music videos with storytelling, and screen writing, culminating in a senior thesis project. In a tenth grade film class we visited, students made their own short silent films after watching Charlie Chaplin's The Kid. During a six-week period in the winter, students work exclusively on film projects: ninth graders work on animation and tenth graders make music videos.
Principal Rex Bobbish said the theme of cinema is woven into both academic and film classes. "It's not just a school with film as an extra thought," he said. In a humanities class, for example, students reduced the plot of a movie they saw to a haiku and created story boards to identify plot elements in the novel Lord of the Flies.
Classes, with about 23 students, are smaller than typical for the city’s schools. In many classes we visited, students seemed motivated and engaged. One girl told us she typically does three hours of homework a night. However, there was some fidgeting in at least one class we visited.
Students with an average below 75 are placed on academic probation and must attend Saturday school six months prior to the Regents exam. They also receive extra math and reading help in pull-out classes. Advisors meet with all students twice daily to check in on progress. Students are grouped by ability for Earth Science and Math. Bobbish plans to offer Advanced Placement classes starting in 2011.
The school shares a new building at the James Monroe High School campus with a middle school, Mott Hall V. Some parents have expressed concern about the neighborhood around Monroe, but Bobbish says it’s “much safer than it used to be.” Safety officers and school administrators maintain a “safe passage corridor” to ensure that students get to and from the subway safely, he said.
Special education: The school offers SETTS. There is one special education teacher.
Admissions: The school gives preference to students with an 85 average and standardized tests scores of Level 3 or above. About one-third do not meet those standards. Bobbish says the school admits mid-year transfers. (Lydie Raschka, October 2010)