Louis D. Brandeis High School
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New high schools & charter school in building show promise
Metal detectors in the building
Louis D. Brandeis High School has been divided into several smaller schools after struggling for years with spotty attendance, safety issues and a low graduation rate. The school officially closed on June 29, 2012 and was renamed the Brandeis High School Campus. It houses five small schools, including four high schools: Frank McCourt High School, Global Learning Collaborative, Innovation Diploma Plus and Urban Assembly for Green Careers. The fifth school is Upper West Success Academy, a charter elementary school that is part of the popular Success Academy network of charter schools.
The Brandeis High School Campus is located on Manhattan's Upper West side. The surrounding neighborhood is safe and full of trendy shops and eateries. The building is easily accessible by subway and bus.
Each of the four small high schools has a distinct mission and its own dedicated space in the building where most of its classes are held. Opened in September 2010, Frank McCourt is a selective admission school that attracts a diverse population of motivated students hailing from all five boroughs. Global Learning Collaborative is part of a network of city schools affiliated with the Asia Society and offers students the chance to study Chinese or Spanish and travel abroad. Urban Assembly Green Careers aims to prepare students for environmental work either in "green buildings" (such as architecture, engineering or solar panel installation) or "green spaces" (such as gardening or forestry). Innovation Diploma Plus is a transfer alternative school that serves students between the ages of 16 and 20 who have not succeeded in a traditional high school setting.
All high school students and visitors enter the building through the main entrance where they must pass through metal detectors overseen by a team of uniformed security guards (we counted nine during one visit). The scene is reminiscent of airport security with guards repeatedly announcing instructions such as "belts off, hats off, coats on." The scanning policy pre-dates all the small schools on campus. It was set in place back when Brandeis High School occupied the entire building and struggled with a long history of poor performance and disorder.
Scanning aside, the overall tone of the building is calm and pleasant. Hallways are clean and quiet when classes are in session. Each school does a nice job of sprucing up their space. Collectively, the schools maintain a collegial relationship, especially over shared space. "We have a really nice campus here, and I have nice relationship with the other schools," said Danielle Salzberg, founding principal of Frank McCourt High School.
All the high schools share use of the building's renovated science labs, three gymnasiums, weight training room, auditorium, cafeteria, library and outdoor yard. Student athletes from all the high schools can participate in the campus-wide PSAL sports teams. There are also roughly 30 campus-wide clubs such as art, dance, photography and Model UN.
Upper West Success Academy, which opened in August 2011, is situated in a wing of the second floor that bears all the signature traits of a Success Academy school, including classes and hallways painted in the official Success network colors of blue, orange and white. Its students have very limited interaction with high school kids in the building. Upper West has its own building entrance (its students don't pass through scanners) and a small cafeteria that is adjacent to the main one.
NOTE: Former Brandeis students seeking transcripts or other school records should contact the Frank McCourt school at 212-362-2015. (Laura Zingmond, January 2012)Read more