Pan American International High School
Elmhurst NY 11373
Spanish speakers learn English and prepare for college.
No team sports.
Students at Pan American International High School all speak Spanish and have been in the United States for less than four years. They come from Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Columbia and other countries. The principal, the secretaries and the counselors speak Spanish, but most of the teachers speak only English. The goal is to help students learn English, finish high school and prepare for college. Pan American is part of a successful network of high schools designed for new immigrants.
New arrivals take classes with students who have been in the United States a while. Ninth and 10th graders take class together, as so do 11th and 12th graders, so students can help each other. In an art class we visited, an older boy helped a younger boy talk about a painting by Pablo Picasso. The first boy said a word in English and the other boy repeated the word. Students were focused and attentive in the classes we visited. Older students do not usually bully new students because so many of them know what it is like to come to a new country. Teachers give all instruction in English and students must present samples of their work in English twice a year.
By the time they are seniors, students can speak and write in English. Expert students can take difficult classes like physics. Angie, an 11th grader from Ecuador, says she was “afraid to speak English” until 10th grade. Now she is on the student government, and can do her schoolwork in English. She likes that the school helps her read and write better in Spanish, too. She wants to be a nurse.
Is the school too Spanish? \"This is the question we are examining,\" says [former] Principal Marcella Barros openly. Some parents wish their children could take history or science classes in Spanish so they don\'t fall behind. Other parents wish students would speak English all the time, even with their friends. The day of our visit, one couple took their son out of school because they felt his progress in English was too slow. But the principal says the mix of English in the classroom and Spanish with friends is a good one. She says it’s important for children to learn English in classes right away. At the same time, she thinks it helps to be able to work out problems with friends in Spanish. [Minerva Zanca became principal in 2013. She is a former Spanish teacher and high school English teacher. She has Master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University. Photo of Family Festival Day from the school website. In July 2015 there was another change in leadership when the assisant principal of organization, George Badia, became principal.]
There is a green asphalt play area but no field. The school does not have official sports teams.
Special education: A reading and writing teacher provides extra help for children who need it in small groups or by going into classrooms. The school has money for special education but did not have services in place at the time of our visit.
Admissions: Open citywide to new immigrants (Lydie O. Raschka, October 2010; updated with new principal information November 2014 & 2015)
About the students
About the school
Is this school safe?
About the leadership
About the teachers
How many graduate?
Are students prepared for college?
How does this school serve English Language Learners?
How does this school serve students with disabilities?
Programs and Admissions
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Environmental Science, AP Spanish
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Cross Country, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams