Millennium High School
Manhattan NY 10004
Pleasant atmosphere and strong academics
No gymnasium or drama, music only offered after school
A pleasant building, an experienced and talented staff and a well-rounded, gimmick-free curriculum have made Millennium one of the most popular schools in the city. Housed on several floors of a 1929 office building near Wall Street, Millennium boasts river views from its cafeteria, a cheery library and comfortable lounge areas.
Colin McEvoy, a history teacher at the school for nine years and an assistant principal for two, became principal in 2012. Staffers told us that McEvoy has a solid vision for the school, getting kids to be true intellectuals. The longstanding exhibition project (required for graduation) in which seniors work closely with a teacher on a research paper and presentation, has found new life under McEvoy. Topics run the gamut from The Value of Infinity to Depictions of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Film.
Academics are rigorous at Millennium, but the atmosphere is relaxed. Teens we spoke to said the workload is heavy but manageable. We dont just pile on the work for the sake of piling it on, said McEvoy. We are thoughtful about what we ask our students to do. Throughout our visit, students seemed happy as they chatted with friends in the cafeteria during their free periods, or met informally with teachers. Class changes are smooth and hallways are not congested.
Everyone takes four years of English, history, math, and science; and all incoming freshmen take a math assessment in June, regardless of test scores. Ninth-graders are placed in either algebra or geometry, moving on to algebra 2/trigonometry, pre-calculus and calculus. Students who dont feel ready to tackle calculus by senior year can opt instead for a course in applied math, covering topics such as budgeting, stocks and mathematical reasoning.
There are more science offerings than is typical at a small school. All students take a two-year bio-chemistry sequence, plus physics; after that, students can opt for advanced (but not AP) courses in physics and chemistry if they choose. Advanced Placement courses are offered in English language and literature, calculus, U.S. history, world history and studio art.
Most Millennium classes are seminar-style, with plenty of discussion. Students read literature classics such as The Odyssey, Frankenstein and Hamlet; peppered with modern and contemporary works such as Lolita and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.McEvoy says not much has changed with the implementation of Common Core Learning Standards, and teachers continue to incorporate nonfiction through historical articles and literary criticism. Millennium assigns more writing than many New York City high schools and learning to write well is a focus of the instruction. In an AP English language and literature class, a student impressed us with an insightful presentation on both sides of the global debate on reproductive rights. Why are womens rights being used as a political tool instead of being respected? she asked, while her mostly female classmates nodded and took furious notes. (Sixty percent of Millennium students are girls.)
For foreign language, students can choose between Mandarin Chinese or Spanish. During our visit, a class in Mandarin was filled to the brim and conducted entirely in Chinese; while in a small third-year Spanish class, students struggled to express their thoughts in the language.
Budget cuts have taken their toll: Class size has grown and is close to the contractual limit of 34, especially in the upper grades.There is no gym, so students take indoor physical education either in the fitness center or the multi-purpose room on the ground floor that also doubles as an auditorium. In good weather, they may go out to nearby fields such as elevated acre in the financial district. Partnerships with Millennium Brooklyn, the YMCA of Chinatown and several local schools gives sports teams extra space to practice. PSAL sports include basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, fencing, swimming, volleyball, table tennis and cross country, shared with Millennium Brooklyn.
Millennium offers no music or drama classes but studio art is strong. In addition to the AP Studio Art class, juniors and seniors can take graphic design, photography (in a real dark room) and multi-media design. There are also two dance clubs and several student bands that perform two rock shows each year. On occasion, McEvoy joins in on the guitar.
COLLEGE: There are two full-time college counselors who meet with all families and offer workshops as early as 10th grade. Some 40 percent of graduates attend private colleges, 50 percent are split between CUNY and SUNY schools, and less than 10 percent attend community colleges. Top students have been admitted to Stanford, Barnard, Columbia, Yale, Smith and Bryn Mar.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Millennium is one of the few high schools in the city to offer a challenging college-prep curriculum to children with special needs. About 15 percent of the students receive special education services; all are assigned to ICT (integrated-co-teaching) classes with two teachers with the plan they will be in mainstream classes by senior year. Four special education teachers, each specializing in a content area, work in the ICT classes and tutor students before and after school several days a week. The school also has two guidance counselors, a speech therapist and a visiting art therapist. Children from a District 75 program in the building are integrated into regular classes, and considered to be part of the school, administrators said. A buddy system pairs these students with general education peers from Millennium for academic and social support.
ADMISSIONS: Priority is given to students who live and/or attend school below Houston Street in Manhattan and then to Manhattan residents. Many students come from the Upper West Side, although there have been almost no seats left for students from other boroughs in recent years. Applicants must have at least a 90 average and fewer than 10 latenesses and absences. An essay is optional. Tours are offered in the fall, but they fill up quickly so book early. More than 5,000 students apply for 150 seats. (Clara Hemphill, October 2011; Aimee Sabo, May 2015)
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Programs and Admissions
Comprehensive interdisciplinary liberal arts program with many opportunities for honors and AP courses. Thesis papers in grades 10, 11 and 12.
Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Calculus, AP English, AP Studio Art, AP US History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Soccer, Table Tennis
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Fencing, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams