H.S. 560 City-As-School
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Internships, high expectations and support give students a second chance; students have a lot of autonomy
Some students may need a more conventional routine
Known as one of the nation’s leading experiential learning model for high school students, City-As-School offers nontraditional academics for struggling students, combining regular classwork with off-site internships. It serves all kinds of students, including those who have struggled at high-performing schools, are coping with depression and anxiety, or who have floundered at schools that neither met their needs nor tapped into their strengths and interests. Those who attend enjoy liberation from much of the burden of testing, have lots of autonomy and gain valuable experience through internships.
City-As-School is part of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, a network of small high schools that are exempt from administering all but the English Regents exam. To graduate, students must complete in-depth portfolios in English, math, science and history that consist of a research paper and oral defense of their work. Students also complete a graduation portfolio that involves a personal essay, career plan and a completed college application.
Described by The New York Times as a “forerunner in New York City” for alternative schools, City-As-School earned top marks on its most recent Quality Review in all areas, including instruction, setting high standards and school culture. Students build their own program by choosing courses such as Issues in Immigration, Introduction to Business and Mythology and the Modern World, according to the school's annual Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP). They may take courses for free at colleges throughout New York City, as well as at cultural institutions such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music; another option is to craft their own independent study. All classes are ungraded, meaning that if a student fulfills all of the requirements for a class, she earns credit for it but not a grade.
Students also choose from a generous range of internships, working at places like the American Museum of Natural History, Marvel Comics and the Manhattan Borough President’s Office. They generally spend 16 to 32 hours at their internships each week.
There are several full-time staffers who are part of the guidance team, including social workers, school psychologists and guidance counselors. Additionally, the school has a substance abuse prevention and intervention specialist and a LYFE center, which provides free childcare and education to the babies and young children of students.
The college office organizes and provides one-on-one advising, college and career-related field trips and fairs, visits from college representatives, college and career classes, career panels, SAT review, and help with writing essays and résumés.
After school, students may participate in extracurricular activities like urban farming, mindfulness, and rowing on the Hudson River.
Located in Greenwich Village, City-As-School shares a building with P.S. M721, Manhattan Occupational Training Center, which is part of District 75, the citywide district for students with severe disabilities.
ADMISSIONS: Open to students who will be 16 years of age by the beginning of September and have accumulated at least 16 academic credits, including two in math and two in science. The school’s main intakes are in May-August (for September admissions), September (for October admissions), and December-January (for February admissions). Students must complete an online application and attend an open house. (Katie Safter, via web reports and school website, July 2018)