Robert F. Kennedy Community High School
Fresh Meadows NY 11366
Diverse, family-like atmosphere
No music or football, limited gym space
Robert F. Kennedy Community High School has a warm atmosphere, enthusiastic teachers and loyal families who speak more than 28 languages. Students come from home, to home, said the parent coordinator Angela Miraglia. Every one of our doors is open.
Longtime teacher James Gildea calls it, the best of the non-test-into schools around.
Under the leadership of Principal Beshir Abdellatif, the schools focus is squarely on college readiness. Every child who scores below 80 percent on the math Regents exam or below 75 percent on English Regents exam must re-take math and English. Those bound for Regents exams attend a Saturday Academy.
Students come from the Middle East, China, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere. Abdellatif speaks Persian, Arabic, English and French. He was principal of Law, Government and Community Service and interim principal, during a troubled time of administrative turnover, at Khalil Gibran International Academy. He likes things ship-shape: sparkling hallways, no sagging jeans, no cell phones or open soda cans in class. When he took the helm in 2011, he installed card-swipe machines to track attendance and tardiness. Since his arrival, satisfaction, test scores and attendance are inching up.
Dress is casual, but attendance and hallway changes are strictly monitored. Some teachers talk from the front of the room perhaps longer than teens care to listen, but we also saw enthusiastic and creative teaching. During one lesson, when no one raised his hand to answer a question, the teacher had students turn and talk to each other, thus sparking full participation. A science teacher kept his students on their toes with witty remarks and a well-organized science experiment on isotopes using colorful candy. In a digital computer class, students worked on timely PowerPoint presentations about a presidential debate. Teachers often stay late and are willing to arrive early. Everybodys a first priority, said a senior.
For high achievers, there is a range of Advanced Placement classes including English literature, Spanish language and composition, geography and calculus. Students expressed pride in the fact that their school made the list of top high schools in a US News report. While some grumbled about new rules, such as no visiting lockers between classes, they also praised their teachers for exposing them to new subjects, like journalism. The school newspaper has candid articles on the danger of using the cafeteria as an extra gym space and the aggravation of locker bandits.
Whats missing, say students, are old-fashioned football pep rallies like you get at big schools. However, one praised the fact that teams are welcoming of non-athletes who want to try a sport as late as junior year. A variety of offerings include bowling, fencing, baseball, basketball and tennis. There is no music. Instead, students have art and technology classes.
College: A guidance counselor serves as part-time college advisor. Students said they push each other to reach for schools beyond the CUNYs, to which the majority apply and attend. Some enter the work force, military or trade school. At least one student wins a POSSE scholarship every year. A recent winner chose to attend Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.
Special education: Children with special needs are mostly taught alongside their general education peers in classes with two teachers. A pair of 10th history teachers led a jeopardy-style game to help students prepare for an upcoming test. There is one self-contained class.
Admissions: Educational option, designed to admit a range of academic performers. (Lydie Raschka, October 2012)
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
Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Calculus, AP Spanish
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Fencing, Soccer, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Cross Country, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams