Maspeth High School

54-40 74TH STREET
QUEENS NY 11373 Map
Phone: (718) 803-7100
Website: Click here
Admissions: District 24 priority
unzoned
Principal: Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir
Neighborhood: Maspeth
District: 24
Grade range: 09 thru 11

What's special:

An emphasis on the classics and the fine arts

The downside:

Some students balk at the strict dress code

The InsideStats

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Our review

Maspeth High School is a highly structured school with a classical curriculum that includes four years of Latin and fine arts. Students are held to high standards in their behavior, dress, and academic performance.

Founded with a 9th grade in temporary quarters in 2011, the school moved in 2012 to bright, spacious new building. Latin phrases are posted in the hallways, as well as signs warning “For your own safety, please do not wear hats, hoodies or sunglasses in this building” and “Do NOT let your pants sag in this building.” During transitions between classes, neatly dressed students pass through the halls while classical music or jazz plays over the intercom. The school is adding a grade each year and is designed to serve about 1,100 students. The building also houses a District 75 program for students with autism.

Maspeth’s curriculum seeks to balance math, science, humanities, and the arts. The importance of public speaking and writing are emphasized in all classes. In some ways the style of teaching at Maspeth is traditional. “We have no fear of memorization here,” says Founding Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir. However, teachers also seem to do a good job engaging students through projects and hands-on activities. One biology classroom featured several fish tanks, a live rabbit, and a variety of plants, which the teacher referenced in a lesson about how plants grown in relation to gravity and light. In a history class, students worked in small groups to debate the effects of imperialism on indigenous communities.

Because the curriculum requires students to take four years of Latin as well as four years of fine arts, there are fewer opportunities to take electives than in some other high schools. “The classical curriculum can be hard to mesh with other models that offer many electives,” explained Abdul-Mutakabbir. He wouldn’t trade Latin classes for more electives though, saying that Latin gives the school a unified culture, provides students a deeper understanding of the English language, and bolsters their literacy.

Students may choose from four art tracks: visual arts, dance, theater, or music. Students who earn 10 credits of art classes may graduate with an arts-endorsed diploma.

The school administration enforces its strandards of behavior in the classroom and the hallways. “We use the classics to push kids to examine their own values and ethics,” said Abdul-Mutakabbir, adding that “We want to teach them to be lifelong learners with strong character.”

While students do not wear uniforms, the school’s dress code is strictly enforced and has received pushback from some students who claim that it is too harsh. During our visit we saw four students get sent to the office for being out of dress code to put on a school-approved tee shirt over their clothes. According to Principal Abdul-Mutakabbir, the dress code is part of the school’s efforts to teach students how to present themselves professionally.

Maspeth offers a wide range of extracurricular activities for students, ranging from mock trial to the environmental club to table tennis. There are also a variety of sports teams. Principal Abdul-Mutakabbir says that the majority of students participate in some form of extracurricular activity and that it gives them a chance to get to know their teachers on a different level.

Special education: Maspeth offers team teaching classes for students with special needs.

Admissions: Despite some initial confusion in the neighborhood about whether the school would be locally zoned, admissions are "limited unscreened" with priority given first to students from District 24 who attend an information session, then to those from other districts in Queens who attend a session, and then to NYC residents who attend a session. There were 1,700 applications for 250 seats for the 2012-2013 school year. (Pauline Zaldonis, February 2013)

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