Discover your best high school optionsGet started
M.S. 245 The Computer School
Share this school
Tried and true progressive school where diversity is seen as a plus
No full time music teacher
The Computer School is a good choice for kids who like to write, collaborate, solve problems, take trips and make things by hand-with or without technology. You are as likely to see two heads bent over a math problem or a small group of children building an earthquake-proof structure out of marshmallows and dried spaghetti as you are to see laptop computers or Smart Boards. We want kids who like to mix it up, said Principal Henry Zymeck.
Opened in 1982, the school feels as comfortable as a sturdy old shoe. Even though the school is screened-and the student with good test scores is most likely to get in-a lower-scoring student, with strong attendance and good leadership skills, also has a chance. Zymeck and his staff shun the gifted label and take pride in the fact that the school has children of different academic abilities as well as a mix of races and ethnic groups.
English, social studies, art and digital media classes mix 6th and 7th graders as a way to integrate the youngest students into the life of the school. They follow a two-year curriculum, studying colonial history one year, immigration the next. While humanities and science classes mix children of different abilities, math is tracked; students complete a placement exam upon entrance to get into level 1 or level 2. Classes are divided by grade in physical education and Spanish. The school is divided into two small houses, each with its own teachers.
On our visit, students were calm, inquisitive and trusted to work with little supervision even in the hallway. Instead of textbooks, students use documents, paintings, articles, and go outside to augment their studies, such as a walking tour of Harlem or a trip to the Tenement Museum. Eighth graders visit a mosque, a synagogue and a church to learn about world religions. However the lack of textbooks may be a downside depending on the child; one parent said her son failed to bring order to the mess of handouts packed in his 3-ring binder.
We saw typed writing samples in a variety of genres including poetry, flash fiction and research papers on themes ranging from R & B singer Rihanna to the Political Zionism Activities of Theodor Herzl. Integration of subjects is a hallmark of the lessons: a study of Ancient Greece may include a visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, charcoal drawings of Greek vases, and an exploration of the book Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths. We try to help the kids make connections and be thinkers, said parent coordinator Sara Sloves.
Technology is in the mix too, although it no longer seems as cutting edge as the schools name implies. (Even the name seems dated, when many things dont happen on actual computers these days but on tablets, mobile devices and iPads) Still, the building is wireless, there are laptops and Smart Boards, and every child visits the Digital Media lab twice a week. Those who want more can stop by the Maker Space at lunch to learn how to make animations, squishy circuits and LED lights, and sign up for the after school Robotics program.
The newsy, family-friendly website has a list of after school programs including volleyball, flag football, chorus, dance, printmaking and more for a nominal fee (some scholarships are available). One downside: there is no full-time music teacher but chorus and music lessons are offered after school.
Special education: Children may join their general education peers for certain subjects or be pulled out for special help as needed. There are two self-contained classrooms for children with special needs only.
Admissions: Tours are offered in the fall. Students are divided into groups of twelve during the screening process for group problem solving, a listening activity and a writing prompt. Portfolios, grades and attendance are factored in. There are typically 300 applicants for 130 seats. (Lydie Raschka, April 2013)Read more