High School for Environmental Studies
Manhattan NY 10019
Molecular biology lab; 10th-grade internships
While strong students are challenged, others may find the work too easy
At the High School for Environmental Studies (HSES), students maintain a rooftop garden and beehive and learn about composting and recycling. Any 9th- or 10th-grader willing to put in the time and effort may take part in a science research project and those who stick with it are paired with a professional mentor to refine their research in 11th and 12th grades. Roughly 50 sophomores have internships at places such as Wave Hill, Bronx Zoo and the New York Hall of Science.
HSES boasts one of the few high school molecular biology labs in the city. Students may work with professional grade equipment such as a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machine, which is used to isolate and extract DNA from insects, plants, fruits and even samples provided by the American Museum of Natural History. Students present their research at a symposium sponsored by the Urban Bar Code Project run by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
There are plenty of challenging courses for top students. The highly selective Honors Academy admits a small group of high achievers. In addition, there are honors classes and plenty of advanced and college-level courses open to students not in the Honors Academy. However, students who are learning English, students with disabilities and students on the bottom third of their class tend to have less challenging classes, according to the Quality Review.
While there are lots of opportunities for motivated self-starters, the schools size is daunting for some. Some parents have complained that the school is slow to alert them to problems such as a failing grades or spotty attendance. Each guidance counselor is responsible for hundreds of students.
During our visit we saw lots of engaging instruction. Many classrooms were nicely decorated and lined with student projects; students seemed relaxed and attentive. Students write essays in all subjectsnot just English and history.
In addition to honors classes, Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered in physics, chemistry, biology, environmental science, calculus (AB and BC), English, American history, world history, government and Spanish. Motivated students can take additional AP classes online. For students with weaker skills, the school offers options such as non-Regents chemistry and a math class in financial literacy.
Foreign language instruction is offered in Spanish, Italian and French. In addition to visual art classes, choir and band, students may take gym electives in weight training, yoga and dancethe latter taught by an instructor from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
There are PSAL sports teams and a range of clubs such as fantasy science fiction, math team, Model UN, marketing, dance and photography.
A student representative from each homeroom class participates in a leadership program that meets daily at 7:30 am. On our visit, students worked in groups to identify qualities of good leadership such as knowing how to resolve conflicts, or as it was described in class, how to agree to disagree without being disagreeable.
A fulltime college counselor meets with 11th-graders multiple times during their scheduled English class to walk them through the application and financial aid process. Many students attend CUNY and SUNY schools. Roughly 25 percent of graduates attend private school and out-of-state schools, according to the Quality Snapshot.
Special education: The school offers self-contained classes and SETSS.
Admissions: To be considered for the Honors Academy students must have grades of 85 in core subjects, level 3 or 4 scores on standardized tests and a good record of attendance. The Honors Academy admits only 34 students each year and has many more applicants than available seats. Admission to the Environmental Studies program is based on the educational option formula, designed to ensure a mix of low-, average- and-high-achieving students. High achieving students admitted to the Environmental Studies program are placed in honors classes. (Laura Zingmond, March 2015)
About the students
About the school
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About the leadership
About the teachers
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Programs and Admissions
Interdisciplinary program emphasizing environmental studies: the natural environment, the urban environment and environmental ethics. Students are expected to engage in research, environmental projects and internships and complete a senior thesis.
Mathematics and science research, work in university laboratories.
French, Italian, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Economics, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP Human Geography, AP Physics, AP Spanish, AP US Government and Politics, AP US History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Handball, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Handball, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball