The School for Classics: An Academy of Thinkers, Writers and Performers

Phone: (718) 277-1069
Principal: JANICE ROSS
Neighborhood: East New York
District: 19
Grade range: 09 thru 12

What's special:

Small school uses performing arts to engage students

The downside:

Difficult neighborhood

The InsideStats


Our review

Like so many new small schools, the School for Classics: An Academy of Thinkers, Writers and Performers has a long name that may be a bit grandiose. But in a just a few years, the staff and faculty have created a school in the shadows of the Cypress Hill Houses that seems to nurture students, encouraging them academically in a safe, supportive environment.

Key to the school is the theater. First-year students take an introduction to theater class, culminating in a performance piece they create themselves. From there students can go on to focus in a particular aspect of theater choosing from majors in acting design, technical theater or stage management. Teaching artists from professional theater companies supplement the instruction. Students are required to participate in yearly dramatic productions, probably of a play by Shakespeare. Being involved in theater -- on or off stage -- is designed to pique student interest in literature and other subjects.

The school also features story telling classes, an emphasis on writing and dance classes that include ballroom and more contemporary styles, as well as some Advanced Placement classes.

The emphasis on drama, students says, does not mean the school works only for the stage struck. "I'm the stage fright one," a senior says, adding that she has enjoyed School for Classics. "Kids love it. It's a great learning experience," she says, crediting much of that to the school's small size.

Students give the school high marks for helping them achieve. In the Learning Environment Survey, 95 percent said their teachers encourage them to succeed and 93 percent said teachers provide extra help when they need it. Judging from student's comment on the survey, the School for Classics has been able to create security in one of the city's more difficult neighborhoods. The numbers citing discipline problems were relatively low, and the vast majority said they felt safe in school.The school shares a building with JHS 218.

The School for Classics does not offer any interscholastic sports.

College: The school has guidance counselors but no dedicated college counselor. Its first group of graduates went on to local schools -- mostly four-year colleges -- including Adelphi, Pace, LIU and various branches of SUNY.

Special education: The school offers both self-contained special education classes and in class supports for students with disabilities.

Admission: Schools for Classics is unscreened and so far has been able to admit all students who apply. (Gail Robinson, October 2012, based on interviews and information from the high school fair)

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