The Clinton School M.S./H.S. 260
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Demanding International Baccalaureate program
Not suited for students who want to focus in one area
Once a cozy middle school for artists and writers, The Clinton School now goes through high school and offers the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, a degree widely accepted at universities in more than 100 countries. The IB program takes place in 11th and 12th grades.
The academic load is intense, but students get lots of support. Eighth-graders take high school math and science courses to complete two of the five Regent’s exams required for graduation, and they complete the rest of their Regent’s by the end of 10th grade.
More demanding than a standard Regents prep curriculum, the IB program requires students to write a 15- to 20-page research essay on a topic of their choice, make an oral presentation and pass various subject exams.
Even as the school changes and grows, Clinton supports its students, says principal Jonathan Levin, “not just in its small size, but also in the way that we live day in and day out."
The school grooms peer leaders and has three guidance counselors on staff. One leads a group called Banana Splits, in which students with separated parents share experiences. Children meet twice a week in small group advisories. Teachers share strategies for coping with moods, such as anger or depression, from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
The school’s arts traditions are very much alive as well. The middle school produces big musicals, and the high school hosts a film festival that brings together student work in filmmaking, stop motion animation, and other classes and clubs. Students publish The Clinton Post, a newspaper, and Clinton Soup, a literary magazine.
Students participate in "Triple E" classes, which stands for electives, extended learning and enrichment. They take these smaller classes four times a week and explore creative writing, math challenges or arts, such as comic book art or pottery fired in a kiln.
Starting in 7th grade, students may go out for lunch with parent permission. Levin says it’s not so bad for those who stay in because the cafeteria food is “legitimately fantastic.”
More than half of the rising 8th-graders continue at Clinton for high school. Some students opt for specialized high schools, including LaGuardia, and other popular schools, such as Beacon.
Not every child will choose to complete all requirements for the IB diploma—for example, if they are involved in time-consuming sports, or if they have a job—but all participate in the core academics and the arts components, Levin says. About one-third of the first cohort is on track to earn the IB diploma in 2018-2019.
Levin says Clinton is “not so good for kids who only want STEM, or writing, or no higher math.” IB is a well-rounded academic and arts curriculum, and students are not able to choose an easier math or science class along the way. “You have to be willing to be pushed in all these areas,” he says.
The Clinton School has become so popular and highly competitive that it “seems to advantage wealthier families who have the means to hire tutors and otherwise provide test and interview prep for candidates,” the yearly plan says. To be more inclusive, Clinton has set aside 17 percent of its seats for incoming 6th-graders from low-income families.
ADMISSIONS: Students are admitted based on a review of their state test scores, report cards and records of attendance, punctuality and academic behavior. The middle school is open to students from District 2. Priority for the high school is given first to continuing 8th-graders, then to Manhattan students and residents, and then citywide. (Lydie Raschka, interview, March 2018)Read more