Staten Island Technical High School
Staten Island NY 10306
Rigorous academics and strong engineering program, students learn Russian
Limited foreign language instruction other than Russian
Staten Island Tech is the newest of elite high schools that base student admissions on performance on the specialized high school exam. Even though it is smaller than the biggestBrooklyn Tech, Stuyvesant, and Bronx Scienceit can boast that it outpaces them in certain of its stats. With a 100 percent graduation rate, the highest in the city, and an attendance rate not far behind, Tech is a school full of motivated, high achievers who study an interesting array of courses, including four years of technology and Russian, the only language offered. The school was founded in 1988 and became the city's seventh specialized-exam schooland Staten Island's only onein 2005.
While not the pressure cooker that Stuyvesant and Bronx Science are reputed to be, Staten Island Tech kids do feel competition. It's the kind of place where parents get upset about a grade of 85. Some students complain that the mandated nine-period day is too long, while others grumble that it's too difficult to get into the school's 12 Advanced Placement courses.
Staten Island Tech had the reputation of being staid and conservative, but Principal Vincent Maniscalco, who comes from a background in alternative schools, has shaken things up a bit. He is pushing for what he calls more "engagement" by kids in the classroom and less reliance on teacher lectures. With one-third of the staff leaving since he began in fall 2002, he has the challenge of converting new and old faculty members alike to this more collaborative learning approach.
The principal's office and many hallways in the old red brick building are lined with students' essays and projects as well as lots of beautiful, enlarged photographs of students in action. Many come from the local Staten Island Advance newspaper and might feature a swimmer in mid-dive, or a soccer player, or a winning robotics team. "Kids love to see pictures of themselves," Maniscalco said. Some lovely student artmade in an after-school program because there is no visual art instruction at Tech also lines the hallways.
Tech's graduation art requirement is fulfilled in technology and engineering classes, beginning with a required course in drafting and continuing with a sequence of engineering courses, including CAD, computer-aided drawing. Students are exposed to such sophisticated machinery as 3-D printers, and technology is employed throughout the school. In a social studies class we visited, for example, a teacher used a smart board rather than a blackboard to illustrate how Chinese culture had spread to Japan.
To fill in the gaps in the arts, the principal hired several part-time performing arts and band teachers and was hoping to promote a fledgling dance and choral program. There is a musical performed every year as well as the popular and raucous SING, an event totally written and staged by students.
Advanced Placement courses include calculus, advanced calculus, macro-economics, and physics. We sat in a class of 14 youngsters taking the highest level calculus, called BC calculus, working quietly together, clearly learning from one another as well as the teacher. "These are the smartest kids in the school," the math teacher said.
In many classrooms, desks were arranged facing one another. A number of teachers tolerated kids eating or drinking, and the snacking did not seem to disturb the lessons. In some of the technology classes, kids were welcome to listen to music on headphones as they worked at computers. Disruptions are clearly not common at this school. In an exercise indicative of the neighborhood, where most kids drive and have after-school jobs, an economics lesson about supply and demand centered around rising oil and gas prices, and their effect on student pocketbooks.
We sensed some old-fashioned school spirit at Staten Island Tech. School trophies abounded, and cheerleaders, dressed in uniform, were holding a bake sale during our visit. There are annual class trips outside the city. In a rarity for such a small school, athleticsespecially for girlsare strong. The girls' track and soccer teams are perennial leaders in the borough and the city.
Parents are super involved. The day we toured the school, about a dozen moms were on hand to collate and staple materials for distribution at an open house for an expected 4,000 people interested in the school. One of their daughters stopped in so Mom could commiserate with her about the "bad day" she was having.
A few students complain that the school is too small, and some parents chafe that not all kids get into the AP courses they want, but for the most part, folks are happy in this quiet corner of Staten Island.
Admissions: Beginning in fall 2005, applicants were required to take the specialized high school exam, which is given in October to 8th graders. Most kids come from Staten Island, with a handful from Brooklyn. An open house is held in October.
College admissions: Virtually all Staten Island Tech graduates go on to four-year colleges. Each year a few students make it into an Ivy League school; other popular choices in recent years have included New York University, the University of Virginia, Boston College, Vassar, and the CUNY honors program. In 2005 students got close to $20 million in scholarships. (Pamela Wheaton,October 2005. This school is featured in NYC's Best Public High Schools: A Parent's Guide.)
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Programs and Admissions
Admission to this Specialized High School is based solely on the score obtained on the Specialized High Schools Admission Test (SHSAT). Students should speak to their guidance counselors in the Fall to register for the SHSAT.
Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Russian, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Economics, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Statistics, AP US Government and Politics, AP US History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Golf, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams