The Clinton School
Close-knit community of dedicated students and staff
High school is a work in progress
Clinton School for Writers and Artists has a close-knit community, hard-working students and lots of creative arts electives. Originally opened as a small middle school, it expanded to include high school grades when it moved into a new building next to Union Square in 2015. We try to build a place where kids love school and they love coming to school, said Principal Jonathan Levin.
Middle-school students have four classes of performing arts, music or visual arts each week. Extra-curricular activities include a musical and after-school sewing classes. All classrooms that we saw were clean, quiet and orderly. Students raised their hands to contribute, and there was a high level of participation. On the day of our visit, a 6th-grade science class used a photograph to spark a discussion about the difference between an inference and an observation. The school uses the Connected Math curriculum, which emphasizes maths real world application.
The high school plans to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) degree, a high school diploma recognized by universities around the world. The IB curriculum calls for seminar-style classes and long essays. The high school curriculum was still being developed at the time of our visit. No foreign language was offered in 9th grade, and 9th-graders who had completed algebra in 8th grade took computer science, rather than geometry. The planned science curriculum includes living environment, chemistry and computer science, but no physics.
During our visit, 9th grade students in U.S. history were brainstorming for a yearlong inquiry project investigating a particular group in American society, such as immigrants, business titans or farmers. High school students at Clinton have academic classes on Monday to Thursday and Friday is reserved for physical education, wellness and the arts.
All grades have "Triple E" classes, which stands for electives, extended learning and enrichment. Students take these smaller classes four times a week and explore creative writing, math challenges or art projects like pottery (fired in a new kiln). On the day of our visit a Triple E sculpture class made origami using hand-painted paper.
Levin, principal since 2011, says it is important for students to develop good character as well as good study skills. He wants them to be good students and not jerks. This includes his son, who attends the school.
Starting in 7th grade, students may get parents permission to go out for lunch. Levin says its not so bad for those who stay in because the cafeteria food is legitimately fantastic.
Clintons guidance counselor leads a group called Banana Splits in which students with separated parents may share experiences. Parent Coordinator Jill Bennett offers a lot of support to both current and prospective families. We are here collectively to meet their needs _. I love helping parents demystify the process of admissions [and] enrollment, she told us.
In the first year of the schools high school expansion, about half of rising 8th-graders continued at Clinton. Some students went to specialized high schools, including La Guardia, and other popular schools, such as Beacon High School.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Clinton has ICT team-teaching classes in every grade and also offers SETSS for the roughly 15-20 percent of students at the school with IEPs (individualized education programs).
ADMISSIONS: The middle school is open to students from District 2, who must submit a writing sample or artwork and conduct an interview and on-the-spot writing exercise. Admissions are screened for attendance, state test scores and reports.
Priority for the high school is given first to continuing 8th-graders and then to Manhattan students and residents. Principal Levin expects about 50 percent of students will stay through middle and high school, with the rest of the seats opening up to students from across the city. (Ella Colley, October 2015)
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