Fort Hamilton High School
BROOKLYN NY 11209 Map
Fort Hamilton High School
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2012: In September 2012, the Department of Education named Kaye Houlihan interim acting principal at Fort Hamilton. Houlihan had been an assistant principal at Fiorello LaGuardia High School for Music and Art & Performing Arts and an English teacher at Edward R. Murrow High School. She was high school director at New Heights Academy Charter, an Upper Manhattan school serving grades 5 through 12.
Houlihan's interim appointment came only days after the resignation of longtime principal Jo Ann Chester on Sept. 19. Chester stepped down abruptly as the DOE investigated whether she had improperly paid full-time teachers as substitutes. In addition, a February 2012 audit found possible irregularities in the scoring of Regents exams at Fort Hamilton.
MAY 2012 REVIEW: In many respects, Fort Hamilton High School harks back to a previous era. A large traditional high school with a zero-tolerance approach to discipline, its halls are decked with trophies, flags and expressions of support for school teams. It has a fine music program and an Honors Academy for top students, both of which attract kids from all over Brooklyn and even Staten Island.
Fort Hamilton is a safe, well-run school that caters to a diverse population of students from the surrounding area and beyond. Many thrive there, enjoying the esprit de corps, the range of offerings and the solid classes. Students seeking something more innovative or preferring a smaller school might want to look elsewhere.
With a population that generally tops 4,000, Fort Hamilton is one of the largest high schools in the city. To handle the crowds, the school holds classes in three overlapping sessions. Many students remain at the school from 7:20 a.m. to 5 p.m. so they can participate in its more than 30 clubs and 52 sports teams.
A self-described proponent of large schools, Principal Jo Ann Chester says Fort Hamilton works hard to keep students from getting lost. For one, the school has "houses," loosely divided by interest area, with about 400 students and two counselors in each. The Honors Academy is one house, instrumental and vocal music is another. There are academic supports and on-line services to help student track their progress and let parents know how their child is faring. Project Success, which reaches out with phone calls and home visits to families whose children are frequently absent, has helped bring attendance up to over 90 percent. The school also focuses on so-called over-the-counter students who enter in midyear, contacting their parents and meeting with each student to find out what brought them to Fort Hamilton and to make sure they understand the rules and culture.
Fort Hamilton gets middling scores from the city in academic achievement, with its graduation rate hovering just above the city average. In its efforts to improve, the school offers a variety of Regents and SAT prep programs including peer tutoring by National Honor Society members and a Saturday academy aimed at English language learners and students who may be lagging in credits. "Getting Started," a summer program open to all incoming 9th graders provides instruction in English, math, science and social studies and aims to familiarize the students to high school.
Subject classes are given in Spanish, Arabic and Chinese for Fort Hamilton's many English language learners. The school also provides a class to help immigrants who arrive with little to no formal education prepare for the English Regents exam.
The majority of Fort Hamilton students are in the zoned program, and only the Honors Academy and music programs accept students from outside the zone. Students in the Honors Academy take all their main academic classes together, but mix with other students in language, electives and art courses. Honors Academy students are expected to take Advanced Placement classes, some as early as their sophomore year.
Most classes include students with a wide range of abilities. Fort Hamilton offers double English periods for students who arrive with low English scores. Many students come in with poor math skills, says Chester, and many have trouble passing the math Regents. In response, Fort Hamilton has cut class size in math courses.
The school has strong arts offerings, especially in music. On the day we visited, the members of the symphonic band rehearsed a challenging piece for a concert that evening. There is a dance program in partnership with the Joffrey Ballet. It also has an Army ROTC program and various business classes.
College admissions: Fort Hamilton's college office includes a counselor, adviser and secretary. About 85 percent of graduates go on to four-year colleges, with others attending two-year schools or joining the military. Members of the Class of 2012 received more than $11.5 million in scholarship.
Admissions: Zoned high school. Competition is steep for the selective Honors Academy which accepts students from outside the zone, with priority to Brooklyn. Students must have a 90 average in all academic subjects and have scores of 3 or 4 on 7th grade standardized tests to be considered. Students audition for the instrumental and vocal music programs.
Special education: Fort Hamilton has self-contained and team-teaching classes. It also offers a transition program aimed at helping students who get a IEP diploma go on to college or career. There is also a 5-year program where students get an IEP diploma and work at the nearby Veterans Administration hospital. (Gail Robinson, May 2012)