John Adams High School
Ozone Park NY 11417
Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.
Small learning communities, innovative efforts to improve school culture
School still has a way to go
For years, John Adams High School teetered on the brink of closure and struggled to attract students. Its administration and faculty now believe the worst is behind them and see the school gradually rebounding, thanks to stronger academics, new programs and a more welcoming environment.
Signs of progress: The graduation rate jumped from less than 55 percent 2014 to nearly 62 percent in 2015. Attendance improved in the 2015-16 school year. Most important, in 2016, the state removed Adams from the list of schools threatened with state-takeover.
In fall 2016, in hopes of attracting stronger students, Adams launched a selective program featuring the International Baccalaureate, a challenging curriculum that stresses student projects.
Principal Daniel Scanlon came to the school in 2013 after serving as an assistant principal at Hillcrest High School and launched a review of everything going on in the building, followed by a major turnaround plan that school administrators say will take five years to implement.
Staff learned from student feedback that many children did not want to be at Adams, which Scanlon himself described as having been punitive and drab. That has led to such changes as the offering of research electives where students work on topics of their own choosing, and installing game tables in the cafeteria to relieve boredom at lunch. While rates of chronic absenteeism remain high, attendance is increasing.
To improve discipline, Adams has implemented Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), which focuses on rewarding and reinforcing positive actions. (For a prize-winning video by Adams students that came out of this approach, visit the school website.) School officials say the program has slashed suspension by 80 percent in the last three years.
The building retains an institutional feel, but is now enlivened by student murals which decorate many hallways. Adams has a health clinic operated by North Shore LIJ health network. Adams has added more sport teams, such as golf, lacrosse and badminton.
Adams now is divided into a number of "small learning communities" at each with its own teachers, guidance counselor, dean and designated area of the building. With the communities, the school hopes to provide students with the variety of programs and activities they would get in a large school along with the sense of community and individualized attention they would find in a small one. There are learning communities for English language learners and for seniors who need an extra boost to graduate on time.
Most of the communities, though, are geared to a particular theme and offer electives in that area. S.T.E.M. and Art History and Fine Arts screen students for admission, as does the International Baccalaureate, which will have its own learning community in 2017. Adams also has programs in environment and science, law, health careers, media and communication and business and has started an Air Force ROTC that has attracted a fair amount of interest. A new career and technical education offering focuses on computers, giving students the opportunity to build their own computers.
"We want to try to make opportunities available to kids," Scanlon said. "We're trying to find something for every student."
Adams has many English language learners, including students who speak Spanish, Bengali and Urdu and has a large Bengali program. It also has many young people over-age for their grade. "We try not to focus on the negative," Assistant Principal Scott Silverman said. "We need to figure out what's going on emotionally" with students who act out or who have struggled "and support them and empower them." The school tracks students to quickly detect who is faltering academically or failing to come to school. Different levels of interventions then come into play.
Adams offers college credit courses in conjunction with York College and also gives Advanced Placement classes. In an AP Spanish class we visited, students worked intently, drafting an essay in Spanish about social media.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Adams offers a range of services and supports, including self-contained and ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes.
ADMISSIONS: Criteria vary among the learning communities, with some screened programs and others using the educational option method, which seeks to ensure admission to students with a range of academic abilities. There is also a zoned program for students living in the area. Given a shortage of applicants, most students who apply to the education option programs will be admitted. (Gail Robinson, March 2015, updated March 2016)
About the students
About the school
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About the leadership
About the teachers
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Programs and Admissions
Prepares students for careers in engineering, science research, and the environment. Students can take courses in science research, environmental science, and anatomy.
Prepares students for careers in social sciences, law, and international relations. Students will participate in Model UN, Moot Court, and Mock Trial.
Includes approved curricula in Medical Laboratory Assisting and a new curricula in Sports Medicine.
Prepares students for careers in journalism, video production, studio recording, writing, theater, and fine arts. Students will participate in the school paper, yearbook, play productions, and the literary magazine.
Prepares students for careers in business and computer science. Students will participate in Virtual Enterprise, Co-Op Tech and internships.
Students have the opportunity to learn a diverse set of computer, engineering, robotics, and research skills. Students participate in competitions throughout the year and are prepared to sit for a proficiency exam to earn industry certification.
There are three tracks to the fine arts program: art history (includes visual arts), theater, and technical music. Students take the three-year Art Regents exam. Music students also have the opportunity to participate in New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) activities while developing their instrumental and vocal skills.
American Sign Language, Bengali, Hindi, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP Music Theory, AP Physics, AP Spanish, AP US Government and Politics, AP US History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball
Girls PSAL teams
Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Flag Football, Golf, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams