Brooklyn Community High School of Communication, Arts and Media (BCAM)

Grades 9-12
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What’s Special

Students get four years of arts instruction

The Downside

Shared middle school building; few PSAL sports & no dedicated college counselor

Our Review

At Brooklyn Community High School for Communication, Arts and Media (BCAM) students get four years of instruction in the arts, real world experience with internships and the opportunity to display their work in professional art galleries.

Only about one-third of the students choose BCAM because they are interested in the arts; others choose it for its strong academics, said Principal James OBrien. Art provides the core curriculum at the school where every student get hands-on experience and must assemble a portfolio of their work as a requirement for graduation. They also must pass the required Regents exams.

BCAM is one of four schools that share a middle school building in a rapidly gentrifying residential area of Bedford Stuyvesant. On the first floor are a transfer high school, Brooklyn High School for Leadership and Community Service and PS 369, a District 75 school for students with special needs. Peace Academy middle school is on the second floor. BCAM occupies the entire third floor. All four schools share the basement lunchroom, outdoor schoolyard, and other public spaces, creating some logistical challenges. In a 2010 upgrade, the building got six new million dollar science labs, two of which BCAM uses for physics and chemistry, OBrien said.

Students wear simple uniforms of polo shirts and slacks or jeans, four days a week and may wear what they wish on fresh Fridays. As they pass between classes, instead of bells, the batter up' melody familiar to Yankees fans signals the beginning of the new class period. Student cohorts' change every quarter, so there's ample opportunity to mix with different peers throughout the year.

The most distinctive elements of BCAM's curriculum are the 3-day-a-week community arts and media electives--called seminars here--which are taught both by BCAM faculty and some outside artists. Students may choose to take academic subjects, such a certain literature genre, or arts-oriented seminars such as music production, hip-hop poetry or dance.

Students start with a foundations art course in 9th grade and later get instruction in digital photography, video production and graphic design among other specialties. A Pratt Institute-trained art teacher helps students create Chuck Close-style autobiographic portraits using tools like Photoshop.

According to OBrien, the curriculum is inquiry-based and frequently involves community service and social issues. In an after school project that includes schools in Rio de Janeiro and Amsterdam, students are studying gentrification. Sponsored by an organization called World Up, the students from three different countries will produce a global music album.

Bringing students up to and above grade level is critical at BCAM, where most students arrive under-prepared for high school work. They participate in advisories for all four years, with a single faculty member as advisory leader, to foster strong relationships. Spanish is the only foreign language taught.

College admissions: A two year grant from CUNY brought a bevy of college prep resources to the school, says OBrien, although the school doesn't have the budget for a dedicated college counselor. Students may enroll in College Now courses with John Jay College of Criminal Justice and City Tech. Most graduates go to CUNYs and SUNYs with a handful going to arts school. Three graduates are now at Pratt on full scholarships.

After school: Students may participate in after school arts and sports clubs, do community services projects and get academic tutoring. Boys basketball is the only PSAL sport.

Admissions: Citywide. Students who attend an open house or otherwise express interest in the school have priority. (Helen Zelon, February 2008/updated Pamela Wheaton, interviews & Web reports, September 2012)

About the students

Enrollment
410
Asian
1.2%
Black
74.2%
Hispanic
21.7%
White
0.5%
Other
2.4%
Free or reduced priced lunch
83%
Students with disabilities
24%
English language learners
4%
Male
47%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with Brooklyn Prospect Charter Clinton Hill Middle School and the Brooklyn HS for Leadership and Community Service
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
67%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
84%
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
48%
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
86%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
42%
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
87%
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
44%
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
10.0
5.3 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
86%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
81%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
86%
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
71%
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
98%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
91%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
86%
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 9 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Theater, and Media arts
This school has 7 licensed arts teacher in Dance (part-time), Music (part-time), Visual arts (part-time), and Visual arts

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
72%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
48%
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
77%
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
69%
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
0%
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
9%
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
7%
32% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
35%
41% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
51%
63% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
0%
0% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
59%
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
100%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
100%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
100%
90% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
55%
60% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Brooklyn Community High School of Communications, Arts and Media
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Academics

Language Courses

American Sign Language, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP English, AP US History

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Basketball, Handball, Soccer

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Flag Football

Coed PSAL teams

Stunt

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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