Bronx Lab School
BRONX NY 10467 Map
Bronx Lab School
Bronx Lab School’s green walls and brightly painted murals give it a comfortable and cozy feel. Teachers go by their first names and the small-school atmosphere keeps the students and teachers close. “Teachers actually care about you as an individual,” said a 12th grader.
Throughout the year, students go on multi-day trips, called "Explore Weeks." In one Explore Week, students interviewed veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. In the process, the students learned how to film and edit their own mini-documentaries.
Outdoor trips are abundant, with an annual 250-mile biking trip of the Underground Railroad in Ohio and a mandatory camping trip for incoming freshmen on the first week of school. “All these trips let you improve yourself as a leader and makes you more open-minded,” commented one student.
“This school is very good for students who are middle-of-the-road because we have a lot of resources for them,” explained Shenea Hunt, a college counselor. “Students can do really well here and learn good life skills.” Students keep the same group for advisory in all four years and teachers say it’s rare for a student to slip through the cracks.
The school opened in 2004 in the Evander Childs Educational Complex, a building that has had a bad reputation in the past. But Principal Christopher Lagares, a former history teacher at Manhattan Village Academy, says: “This is no longer Evander Childs. We’re finally breaking the stereotype.”
The school has a senior seminar, and 9th graders take an Integrated Math and Science class that combines algebra, geometry and physics. A select group of 10th graders participate in an internship program, working two days a week at various sites including architectural firms, dental offices and Montefiore Medical Center.
On Wednesdays, classes end early for credit recovery classes and professional development. A mandatory extended-day program for 9th graders offers electives and allows students to attend office hours of their teachers for extra help twice a week. “We work really hard to make sure that students who don’t always come to us high school-ready are college-ready when they leave,” explained Lagares.
Despite a full-time college staff to organize a college curriculum for all students, only about two-thirds of students graduate with a Regent's diploma. However, scores and graduation rates have improved consistently, students have collectively received $7.6 million in scholarship funds since 2008, and 12 students have been awarded Posse Foundation Scholarships.
Seniors participate in an annual SUNY Lock-in in October; they stay at school until evening filling out college applications with assistance from staff. Advanced students may take College Now courses at Lehman College, though there are no Advanced Placement classes.
After graduation, 80 percent of students plan to attend college, mostly in 2-year programs at CUNY schools. Some enroll in 4-year programs at CUNY, SUNY and private universities like Fordham.
Special counselors from the Institute for Student Achievement and FEGS Health and Human Services set students up with afterschool jobs.
Bronx Lab shares the gym, weight room and indoor track with the High School of Computers and Technology and the Bronx High School for Writing and Communication Arts, often holding gym with all three schools together in one session. The whole school goes to lunch together and shares the cafeteria with another school. Though the school itself was clean, many of the shared spaces became increasingly dirty as the day went on. Bronx Academy of Health Careers, High School for Contemporary Arts and Bronx Aerospace High School also share the building.
The school also has building-wide PSAL sports and active clubs like the Gay-Straight Alliance and the American Appalachian Club. “We try to connect students with different programs to give them a reason to come to school,” commented Lagares.
Global Explorers Learning AFAR program promotes cross-cultural exchange by sponsoring international travel for students who cannot otherwise afford it. In 2012, 10 students volunteered in Mexico. Selected students attend a summer program at The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut.
Special education: Students are mainstreamed into regular classes through ICT. SETSS is available to those who qualify.
Admissions: The school gives preference to Bronx students and those who attend an information session. (Aryn Bloodworth, November 2012)