Baruch College Campus High School
MANHATTAN NY 10010 Map
Baruch College Campus High School
Baruch College Campus High School has an imaginative approach to academics with an emphasis on learning to write well. Students read classical texts such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Odyssey as well as contemporary non-fiction such as Fast Food Nation (an expose of the food industry) and Three Cups of Tea (the story of an American who builds schools in Afghanistan).
The school has a very demanding work load. Students say they routinely have three hours of homework a night. “A kid who struggles with organization is going to struggle here,” says Principal Alicia Perez-Katz. But the payoff is great: nearly every graduate goes on to a four-year-college, including some very selective ones.
Historical lessons are tied into contemporary issues, so students learning about the Great Depression may also consider the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008. Teachers encourage students to ask, “How do you make a difference in society?” says the principal. As part of a class on personal finance, students made a $375 loan to a woman in Mongolia to start cloth trading business.
Classes are interdisciplinary, so students may learn about the Fibonacci numbers in math while learning to draw snails or flowers with spirals based on that sequence. Ninth graders have two English classes, one of which focuses on literature and the other on writing. Class size, once significantly smaller than other public high schools, has grown to 30 to 35 students.
Baruch High School occupies five floors in a former office building, which used to house the School for the Physical City (now closed). The school was originally founded as a collaboration with Baruch College, but it is no longer on the college campus. Students may take college classes as part of the College Now program.
Limited course offerings are one drawback of a small school: Spanish is the only foreign language taught, and students may only take three years. (French is offered twice a week as an elective). One third of students responding to the 2011 Learning Environment survey said the school didn’t offer enough variety in courses and activities to keep them interested. While Baruch offers a good studio art class, music, dance and theater are limited. Baruch fields 10 sports teams, including basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball, softball, and track.
There is some friction between the administration and faculty. Fewer than half the teachers responding to the survey said the administration “invites them to play a meaningful role in setting goals for school.” The principal acknowledges some tension, but said it is appropriate for her to make significant decisions.
Special education: Fewer than a dozen students receive special education services, including SETSS, speech and occupational therapy. Students who need extra academic support may stay after school for 50-minute sessions three times a week.
College admissions: The college office has a full-time college counselor, a part-time and one volunteer. Students have been accepted by Harvard, Columbia, Barnard, the University of Michigan, the University of California at Berkeley, Vassar, Cornell, Antioch, New York University, and Howard University.
Admissions: Limited to District 2. The principal says she looks for "kids who are willing to work hard" rather than those with the highest scores. The school has more than 7,000 applicants for 120 seats. There are significantly more girls than boys and the majority of the students are Asian. Call early in September to make an appointment for a tour. (Clara Hemphill, May 2011)