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Orchard Collegiate Academy
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Strong support for struggling students
Attendance and academics have a ways to go
Orchard Collegiate Academy (OCA) is a tiny high school that partners with Henry Street Settlement to provide extra support for students, including a longer school day, mental health services and a full-time college counselor. Children learn in small classes of fewer than 20 students.
The school has a concert band and an audio production program, in which teens create and edit sound tracks of jungles or other settings. A partnership with the Abrons Arts Center allows students to enroll in free drama, music and dance classes.
Many students face challenges; most live in poverty and about a dozen live in temporary housing. About one-quarter of the school population has disabilities. Graduates who go on to attend college are typically the first in their families to do so, according to the comprehensive educational plan (CEP).
Orchard provides a safe and orderly environment. Enrollment has almost doubled under the leadership of Miles Doyle, who took the helm in 2015. Attendance is improving and most teachers would recommend the school to other families.
Henry Street helps manage a mental health clinic on-site used by the three schools that share the building. There are two social workers and several social work interns. Children are assigned at least one adult mentor in school for guidance and support.
Parents are welcome and invited in. The school offers workshops and refers families to services in and outside the school such as English classes, parenting classes, employment assistance and art classes.
High-achievers may take college classes through New York University or Borough of Manhattan Community College. A recent graduate won a four-year scholarship to attend Dickinson College in Pennsylvania funded by the Posse Foundation according to the school website.
Many programs are offered in Henry Street's popular after-school program. Activities are free to all students.
Orchard shares the Corlears Complex (formerly JHS 56 Corlears Junior High) with Manhattan Charter School II (K-5) and University Neighborhood Middle (6-8). Built in 1968, the plain but functional building features a full-size cafeteria and gym, plus music rooms, modern science labs and a paved outdoor recreation area, all of which are shared.
Founded in 2008 as a 6-12 school called Henry Street School for International Studies, the school changed its name to Orchard Collegiate Academy in 2016 and became a stand-alone high school. It was once listed as one of the city’s lowest performing schools but has improved enough to be taken off the list.
Admissions: Educational option. There has been room for all students who applied in recent years. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, October 2018)