Beacon High School

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Engaging and rigorous instruction; lots of arts; new, modern building

The Downside

Some kids may need more structure

Our Review

Beacon is among the most sought-after high schools in the city. Its a vibrant place with challenging academics and a huge array of activities. In September 2015 the school relocated to a spacious, new home in Manhattans Hells Kitchen neighborhood. Designed with input from some teachers and staff, the new building features wide corridors, light-filled common areas such as the cafeteria and library, and plenty of rooms dedicated to music and art classes.

Beacon belongs to a consortium of New York State schools that are exempt from administering all but the English Regents exam. Instead students demonstrate mastery of coursework through challenging projects that involve oral and written presentations. Its not our classes that are so different from other schools, but rather how our kids are assessed, said longtime principal Ruth Lacey.

Teachers are given wide latitude to develop their coursework as well as teach classes that reflect their interests such the Science of Sound and The History of New York City. Lessons typically delve deeper into fewer topics than a standard Regents course and are often framed around a theme or question. In a chemistry class we observed, students donning safety goggles spent the bulk of the period creating and assessing chemical reactions to understand how the idea of calculating mole ratios differs from calculating for molecular mass.

Students read challenging literature and write a lot in all grades. In English and history classes its common to see students taking copious notes and flipping through books lined with post-it stickers. Teachers give open-ended assignments that require considerable research to complete. For instance, in global history the study of World War I culminates with students reading through as many as 15 books to identify differing explanations for the origins of that war and then preparing and presenting their own case for its origin. By the 11th grade students write research papers on weighty topics of their choosing such as President John Adamss support for the Alien and Sedition Act or the reasons for the switch in time that saved nine on the Supreme Court during the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s.

Beacon has a relaxed vibe and in many ways feels more like a small college than a high school. Bulletin boards display signs for clubs and social causes; teachers dont shy away from discussing sensitive or political topics in class. Students also have full run of the place when theyre not in a class. They socialize and do work in the hallways and are welcome to eat lunch in staff offices and open classrooms as well as the expansive cafeteria. If they really want to concentrate on work, they head to the library.

For many students the schools dynamics are liberating. However there are students, especially freshmen, who become overwhelmed. Some cant find their niche among Beacon's many students and activities. Others struggle with what one parent described as college-level expectations with assignments that require more maturity than most 14-year-olds have, such as "trace the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire using primary source materials and taking into account the importance of syncretism.

To help students with the transition to high school, rising freshmen attend a summer bridge program that focuses on community building and trips around the city. All students attend small advisory groups, each led by a teacher who advises the same group of students for all four years.

Students who do best here learn to speak up, ask questions, ask for help and find ways to manage the workload while taking advantage of all that Beacon has to offer. There are many clubs, lots of elective classes in the arts and technology, competitive sports teams, and a music program that features 16 bands and an impressive inventory of instruments and production equipment. During school breaks students have the opportunity to travel abroad.

Foreign languages taught include French, Italian and Spanish.

Students may go out for lunch once a week. Lacey says its easier for students to make friends and meet new people when everyone stays in the building and it also ensures that students who cant afford to buy lunch outside dont feel left out.

Nearly all graduates go on to four-year colleges. In addition to CUNY and SUNY, many graduates attend schools out of state; some go on to Ivy League and other highly competitive colleges.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Theres a small population of students with special needs. Beacon offers special education teacher support services (SETSS) and small group support classes that students attend in addition to their regular subject classes.

ADMISSIONS: Beacon is open to students citywide. A student's 7th-grade standardized test scores, report card and records of attendance and punctuality are reviewed. Select applicants who meet the school's minimum test scores and grades in core subjects are interviewed by Beacon students as well as staff and must present a portfolio of their work.  (Laura Zingmond, November 2015; updated admissions info, November 2017)

About the students

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

About the school

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Metal detectors?
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average


Average daily attendance
87% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
37% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
5.8 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
74% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 30 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Theater, Visual arts, and Media arts
This school has 7 licensed arts teacher in Music (part-time), Theater (part-time), Dance, Music, and Visual arts

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
36% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
37% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
60% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
90% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
59% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

The Beacon School
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

Beacon High School offers an inquiry-based college-preparatory program. Beacon fosters a nurturing, collaborative work environment that promotes students' appreciation for intellectual diversity, preparation for the rigors of college, and active engagement in their larger communities. Our humanities and science courses encourage students to search through multiple perspectives and to scour research and experimental data for the answers to difficult questions.


Language Courses

French, Korean, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, AP Spanish


Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Fencing, Soccer, Tennis, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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522 West 44th Street
New York NY 10036
Hell's Kitchen (District 2)
Trains: A, C, E to 42nd St-Port Authority Bus Terminal
Buses: M104, M11, M12, M20, M34A-SBS, M34-SBS, M42, M50, X17J, X21, X22, X22A, X30, X31


Ruth Lacey
Parent Coordinator
Erdene Greene

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