Francis Lewis High School
Huge variety of courses and activities; lots of options and support for students with special needs
Overcrowding and large class sizes
Francis Lewis is one of the citys largest and most successful high schools. Its a vibrant place with a broad selection of courses, teams and activities that outpace some small colleges. It is home to the nations largest chapter of Junior ROTC, a sought-after law program, and demanding, selective programs in math, science and humanities that offer academics on par with specialized and other highly competitive schools. Local students who qualify for these programs or are zoned for the school should think twice before taking on a long commute to attend selective or popular schools elsewhere in the city.
Options abound for students of all levels and with all kinds of interests. Twelve languages are taught (including American Sign), there are a myriad of Advanced Placement (AP) and College Now courses, and class settings are tailored for a range of student needs. For instance, there are three types of calculus classes: AP calculusAB and BCas well as non-AP calculus for students not quite ready to tackle the college-level version. There are also sections for algebra and living environment that are taught over two years to give struggling students more time and support to learn the subjects.
To help downsize the learning experience and keep better tabs on kids so they dont fall through the cracks, the school is organized into themed programs known as small learning communities (SLCs). In addition to four programs that admit students from outside the schools zone there are SLCs in computer science, business (known as virtual enterprise), dance, design, engineering, forensics, journalism, math team, music, sports, and sports medicine/health sciences. Each one delivers on its theme through a sequence of classes unique to that SLC and some dedicated activities that help build a sense of community. By the start of 10th grade all students are enrolled in an SLC that they stick with through graduation.
Overall, academics are strong across all subjects. Instruction that we observed reflected a mix of teaching styles. Collaborative work and projects dominate in some classes, while teacher-directed lessons are the norm elsewhere. Regardless of the class structure, we saw a lot of teachers build in time for student discussion and reflection.
Students have lots of opportunities to participate in competitionsin math, science, robotics, debate, moot court, mock trial, Model UN, the arts, writing and business. Science research students, who are groomed for national competitions such as Siemens and Intel, take daily lab classes and have access to research labs during their free periods. By their junior year they are working with professional mentors on independent research projects.
The vibe throughout the school is cheery and surprisingly orderly despite massive overcrowding (its housed in a building designed for a much smaller population) and large class sizes. Hallways get very congested during change of classes and lunch periods serve up to 1,000 students at time, yet during our visit noise levels remained under controleven in the cafeteriaand students were calm in classes and throughout the building.
Most students adapt to the enormity of the place by finding their niche in a club, team or activity. Theres an eclectic mix of more than 50 student clubs and activities as well as 27 PSAL sports teams. Model UN, a popular activity, runs as a club in the lower grades, and as a formal class for juniors and seniors. Choral groups and bands perform in concerts throughout the year. During our visit, students were rehearsing for an upcoming performance of the musical "Rent."
Roughly 1,000 students participate in Junior ROTC, which requires no commitment to serve in the military. Some of the participants we spoke with, including girls who proudly keep pace with boys in physical feats such as regulation push-ups, say they appreciate the leadership training, camaraderie and academic support that are core to the program.
Theres a dedicated college office staffed by two full-time college counselors and a support staff of four. Named for former schools chancellor, Dennis Walcott, who attended Francis Lewis, the college office is a large, bustling place where students can drop in for questions and individualized help and entire classes visit for college admissions workshops.
Graduates attend a wide variety of colleges such as CUNY, SUNY, trade schools and highly selective private colleges, including the Ivy Leagues and West Point Academy.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has a substantial special education and English language learner (ELL) population and offers many types of supports and settings. In addition to SETSS, there are self-contained and ICT classes in many subjects. Teachers take care to identify students strengths and place them in class settings that both support and challenge them. For instance a student who needs self-contained classes for most courses, but is strong in one area, say math, will be placed in a general education class for that subject. When we visited, the school offered three ICT sections for algebra II/trig to accommodate all the special needs students who were keeping pace with the traditional sequence of high school math subjects. An alternative assessment program provides life skills, work opportunities and academic instruction for special needs students who are unable to take a traditional academic load because of severe disabilities. There are multiple class settings for ELLs, such as English classes for beginning speakers and self-contained classes for ELLs with special needs.
ADMISSIONS: Guaranteed admission to students in the schools zone if they apply to the Zoned program. The Math Research, Science Research and University Scholars (humanities) programs accept students with good attendance, level 3 or 4 scores on standardized tests and grades of at least 85 in core subjects. Admission to the Jacob Javitz Law Institute is based on the educational option formula, which is designed to admit a mix of low, average and high-achieving students. Students admitted to these four programs may apply to switch to another SLC at the end of 9th grade. (Laura Zingmond, April 2015).
About the students
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Programs and Admissions
This program distinguishes itself with recognition in Mock Trial and Moot Court competitions. A small learning community which offers law-related courses including: You and The Law, Constitutional & Business Law, Mock Trial, Debate Team, and Bioethics.
Students are programmed for honors level courses in Computer Science, Engineering, and Robotics. Students will prepare for a variety of high level regional and national competitions.
This program provides an honors-level sequence of courses which engages students in a rigorous scholastic experience in the Liberal Arts & Humanities. Each term students are programmed for a second language or an additional English/Humanities course.
Our award-winning institute has received high Honors in the National Siemens Competition, Intel, and NYSCEF. Students are programmed for advanced honors courses preparing for the SAT2 subject exams and courses in authentic science research.
American Sign Language, Arabic, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Mandarin, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Japanese, AP Macroeconomics, AP Physics, AP Spanish, AP Statistics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP U.S. History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Flag Football, Golf, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Coed PSAL teams
Fresh Meadows NY 11365