Midwood High School
Brooklyn NY 11210
Strong science and math, racially integrated student body
Large class sizes, little opportunity for individual attention
Midwood High School includes a zoned neighborhood school and two selective, well-regarded programs in science and humanities that draw students from across Brooklyn, regularly sending finalists to the Intel Science Talent Search. The tone is traditional and highly structured; teachers expect a high level of responsibility and motivation from their students, especially in the selective programs. Rules of decorum such as no hats are strictly enforced. The school has strong programs in drama, music, and sports.
Midwood is racially integrated, and students say making friends with kids from different ethnic groups is one of their favorite things about the school. The school is also mixed in terms of students' interests, talents and abilities. Kids say they like the fact that they don't need to specialize in one discipline: They may play in the band and also conduct science research. They can be active in sports and still be good students. Moreover, they may change programs once they arrive: Kids from the zoned program can move up to one of the selective programs if they do well their first semester. A humanities student who gets cold feet about taking Latin can switch to science. A student who is talented in one area may take an honors class in one subject and more basic classes in others.
Principal David Cohen, who came to Midwood in 2006 from his post as assistant principal at Robert F. Kennedy High School in Queens, is committed to helping teachers hone their skills, and one reason teachers like Midwood is the chance they have to learn new things. A social studies teacher was thrilled to take part in a summer program for teachers sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the teaching of American history. Teachers were invited to various college campuses to meet well-known historians; the Midwood teacher was excited to be able to ask questions directly of scholars whose work he admired. The staff is experienced, close-knit and loyal to the school. A number of the teachers are Midwood graduates.
Midwood struggles with severe overcrowding. Up to 4,000 students are packed in a building designed for 2,300, located across the street from Brooklyn College. The staggered start times help to spread out the demand on the building, making the crowding less acute but some classes start as early as 7 a.m. The opening of a 3-story annex in 2008 is designed to alleviate the worst of the overcrowding, but the school will still be overcapacity. Even the successful kids complain that the giant size has drawbacks; no one likes showing up for physics as the sun's just climbing into the sky. And it makes for a very long day for students taking part in after school sports.
Some students find Midwood's sprawl impersonal and say it's easy to be overlooked. Others, though, say that they've been able to connect with teachers, students, coaches and guidance counselors, and feel that they're far from invisible. Students who reach out to adults, or who participate in activities such as Midwood's annual Sing! musical performance find a niche. Passive students who are neither academic stars nor socially gregarious can get lost in the big-school shuffle.
About 300 students are admitted each year to the medical science program. Course offerings include robotics, meteorology there is a weather station on the roof space sciences, and computer. Some kids even learn to fly airplanes on computerized flight simulators. Students from the medical science institute were named finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search in 2004 and 2005. The program has also produced finalists in other competitions such as the Siemens-Westinghouse Science & Technology Competition, and some students have published scholarly papers based on their original research. (The Medical Science Institute has its own website: midwoodscience.org.)
About 175 freshman are admitted to the humanities program, in which students take five years of English, five years of social studies, two years of Latin, three years of a modern foreign language, three years of science and three years of math. The collegiate program is for students who are zoned for the school and who are not admitted to the selective programs. The school offers English as a Second Language and has a bilingual program in Haitian Creole. A small number of Haitian Creole speakers are in a bilingual section of the Medical Science Institute.
College admissions: Students from the two selective programs often attend top-ranked colleges, many on significant scholarships. Posted just inside the front door is a list of acceptances: Several dozen graduates each year go to Ivy League schools. A number of students have won prestigious POSSE Foundation scholarships, which provide a four-year free ride to certain selective colleges such as Middlebury or Vanderbilt.
Special education: About 200 students received special education services. Some are in segregated classrooms, but many are in classes that mix mainstream kids with kids with special needs. In these team-taught classes, two teachers, one of whom is certified in special education, work side by side. Students with special needs take part in the life of the school, performing in the school play, band and orchestra, for example.
Admissions: Students who live in the zone are guaranteed a spot in the collegiate program if they list it on their high school application. Successful candidates for the selective programs generally have an average of 90 or above in English, math, social studies and science as well as good standardized test scores and attendance. The school offers regular tours starting at 8:30 a.m. in the fall. (This school is profiled in NYC's Best Public High Schools. Clara Hemphill, March 2007)
About the students
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Programs and Admissions
Students in the LASI Honors Academy track take course work leading to an Advanced Regents Diploma. Students in the college and careers track are able to enroll in one of our CTE programs (pre-engineering, law and media arts). Our college support track provides the academic support for students so that they are college-ready by the time they graduate from high school.
Creative writing, American classics, journalism, medieval literature, Intel social science research, criminal law, law internship, and Latin.
Biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, statistics, medical issues, environmental sciences, Intel research.
Biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, statistics, medical issues, environmental sciences, Intel research. Ninth grade core subjects taught in bilingual Haitian Creole. Students then transition into our English as a New Language program.
French, Latin, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Art History, AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science, AP Economics, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP European History, AP Human Geography, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Statistics, AP US Government and Politics, AP US History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Flag Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams