Curtis High School
Powerhouse sports, with strong school spirit.
Crowded school building.
October 2015 update: Curtis High School's long-time principal Aurelia Curtis retired in June 2015 after 31 years at the school. She was replaced by assistant principal and math teacher Greg Jaenicke, who also coached the Warriors basketball team.
October 2006 review: In a century-old building on grounds with lawns and tall trees, Curtis High School draws a wide mix of Staten Islanders to its varied offerings. From rigorous academics to top-notch arts education and city-champion sports, the school is thriving, complicated, crowded, and lively. The school is divided into 10 "houses," which allow Curtis' 2,600 students to find niches, yet take advantage of school-wide offerings typical of a large, urban school, such as teams, clubs, and student publications.
All students take comparable basic academics, but may focus on computer science and technology, journalism, or performing and visual arts in programs that do not have auditions or minimum academic requirements. Other programs, including an International Baccalaureate/honors program, an international study program (that often includes overseas travel), and a nursing program, all accept students based on academic records and test scores. Curtis (Navy) Junior Officer Reserve Training Corps program enrolls about 60 students a year. Many seniors have a shortened day, having completed their graduation requirements.
Many faculty and staff are Curtis graduates. One guidance counselor we spoke with estimated that 40 percent of the adults working at the school were once Curtis students. Curtis popular principal, Aurelia Curtis, continues to teach, working daily with some of the schools most at-risk students, and is a strong, dynamic leader, according to teachers at the school. Sports are huge in the schools culture - of the schools 2,600 students, over 1,500 are involved in sports teams.
With numerous musical groups, from guitar ensembles to jazz and symphonic bands, dance companies, and more, the school extends ample opportunities to motivated students. There are 16 Advanced Placement classes and a challenging International Baccalaureate program, which leads to a diploma recognized by many colleges and universities around the world provide a breadth of academic challenge. At the same time, most students arrive performing below grade level and the majority of graduates still need some remedial classes in college, according to CUNY standards.
There are some self-contained classes, but special-needs students are most often mainstreamed into general education classes.
Demand for the school is strong, guidance counselors say, and the building is crowded, at 130% of its official capacity. To help improve the flow of students in the building, the school staggers the time that students begin and end their school days.
Safety concerns at the school surface with regularity, including a 2011 incident that involved a conflict that began off-campus and included a student carrying a knife into the school building -- there are no permanent metal detectors. A minority of students come from challenging domestic circumstances, guidance counselors say - their life at school may be the most stable and predictable element in their complicated lives. Discipline at school is benevolent but instant: conflicts and fights are stopped within 30 seconds, a guidance counselor said, and nothing lingers. Were a family.
Admissions: Interested students should apply by program on the high school application, ranking their most desired "houses" higher on the list. The nursing, International Baccalaureate, and School for International Service programs are selective, with admissions based on academic record, attendance, and standardized test scores.
This school is included in New York City's Best Public High Schools. (Helen Zelon, October 2006, updated October 2011)
About the students
About the school
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About the leadership
About the teachers
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Programs and Admissions
The Computer Business Institute offers students the opportunity to learn Microsoft Office applications, E-Commerce, and an Introduction to Computer Science which includes web design and computer programming. The course sequence leads to an industry-recognized certification as a Microsoft Office Specialist in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint along with an opportunity to participate in Co-Op education.
The Human and Legal Studies program offers students the opportunity to gain a basic understanding of law as the foundation of human society and our role as citizens in the justice system. In addition to standard academic curricula, students interact with representatives from the legal community, including district attorneys, judges, and special law enforcement agencies such as the FBI.
The IB program offers students a unique, rigorous curriculum in Humanities and STEM-related fields authorized by the IB Organization. All students are expected to achieve an Advanced Regents Diploma and will also take numerous Advanced Placement (AP) courses in addition to their 7 required IB courses.
The Journalism Institute offers students opportunities to explore the following: writing, layout design, photojournalism, documentary film, broadcasting, emerging technologies, and print production. Students publish 10 newspapers annually, a yearbook, and literary magazine. The program includes partnerships with colleges and local media.
The Naval Junior ROTC program is a leadership and citizenship training program co-sponsored by the Department of Education and the United States Navy. The curriculum is divided into three areas: academic, military skills, and physical fitness.
The Nursing program offers two State-approved CTE health career programs. The Practical Nursing program includes 798 clinical hours in addition to the curriculum. These students are then eligible to take the NCLEX State Board examination for Licensed Practical Nurse. The Nursing Assistant program includes 108 clinical hours along with a curriculum that allows students to take the NYS certification exam to be certified as a Nursing Assistant.
The Performing Arts program offers students the opportunity to study dance, theater, or music through a variety of classes that are enriched by after-school performances and partnerships with Roundabout Theater, Battery Dance Company, Theatre for New Audiences, and The College of Staten Island. Course offerings include: IB Dance, Modern Dance, Ballet, Composition, Theatre I, IB Theatre, Chorus, Piano, Guitar, Orchestra, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Jazz Band.
The SIS program offers a challenging curriculum in the humanities and the possibility of a student exchange with the Netherlands, Italy, France, and/or Spain. All students are expected to take Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a minimum of four AP classes, four years of a World Language, IB certificate classes, and graduate with a NYS Advanced Regents Diploma.
The Visual Arts program offers students the opportunity to study fine arts or graphic design through a variety of classes that are enriched by after-school programs and a design partnership with Roundabout Theater. Course offerings include: Drawing, Painting, AP Art History, IB Art, and/or CTE Graphic Design using Adobe Creative Suite.
Comprehensive Academic Program
French, Italian, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Calculus, AP English, AP European 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, Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Rugby, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Coed PSAL teams
Double Dutch, Golf
Staten Island NY 10301