Fort Hamilton High School

Grades 9-12
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What’s Special

High-functioning zoned school with great music program and lots of school spirit

The Downside

Crowded classrooms and hallways; school operates on 3 sessions

Our Review

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 atEdward R. Murrow High School. She was high school director atNew 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)

About the students

Enrollment
4551
Asian
27.3%
Black
4.3%
Hispanic
31.5%
White
34.4%
Other
2.6%
Free or reduced priced lunch
68%
Students with disabilities
15%
English language learners
17%
Male
53%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
186%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
92%
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
23%
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
94%
76% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
18%
18% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
82%
84% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
60%
56% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
3.8
5.3 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
82%
77% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
89%
83% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
80%
78% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
80%
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
93%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
89%
84% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 10 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Theater, Visual arts, and an Auditorium
This school has 11 licensed arts teachers in Dance, Music, and Theater

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
89%
71% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
52%
49% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
83%
70% 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?
77%
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
28%
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
11%
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
52%
32% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
55%
41% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
65%
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 many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
62%
65% 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?
65%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
89%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
90%
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
90%
89% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
54%
60% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Honors Academy
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

A four-year academic program offering courses in humanities, mathematics, and science courses that culminate in AP coursework. Students that complete the Honors Academy coursework are eligible for the Advanced Regents Diploma with Honors distinction.

Joffrey Ballet Dance Academy
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Students will be trained in the Joffrey Ballet School’s technique in Classical Ballet, Contemporary Dance, Jazz, Improvisation, Dance History, Dance Composition, and Pointe. Students eligible for Honors and AP classes will be programmed accordingly.

Instrumental Music
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

In addition to studying the required music courses, students will develop their ability to perform on a musical instrument, study music theory, and enhance solo and ensemble techniques.

Vocal Music
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

In addition to studying the required music courses, students will develop their vocal techniques, study music theory, and enhance solo and ensemble techniques.

Dramatic Arts Academy
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

A sequential course of study focusing on acting, scene study, dramatic literature, playwriting, and performance.

Zoned
Admissions Method: Zoned Guarantee
Program Description

Comprehensive Academic Program.

Academics

Language Courses

Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Greek, Italian, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Chinese, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Studio Art, AP US Government and Politics, AP US History, AP World History

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Football, Handball, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Flag Football, Golf, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball

Coed PSAL teams

Golf

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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