High School of Computers and Technology
Intense, hand-on computer training that can lead to certification
Limited art and foreign languages; over 85 percent male
JUNE 2007 UPDATE: In a phone interview, Principal Bruce Abramowitz told us that at the start of each school year, 9th graders build robots as part of an orientation program for the first week. Students work in groups to design, build, and program small robots made with Legos. Robots are programmed to have animalistic traits, such as aggression or timidity, and students get to watch their creations interact with others at the end of the week. Teachers guide them, and observe their learning styles at the same time. According to Abramowitz, while the kids are having fun, they are also getting to know each other and their new teachers.
Ninth graders can choose to continue with Lego Robotics in the after school program; upper grades can participate in the "First Robotics" program, where they learn to build robots that function with a purpose, and participate in a national competition with other schools. The theme of one recent year's competition was to design a robot that could help a physically disabled individual with a difficult task.
Drama and visual arts classes are also part of the curriculum and the after school program, where more than 150 students participate in on a regular basis, according to Abramowitz. Graduates will receive a Career and Technical Education (CTE) endorsement on their diploma.
Field trips round out the year, and the school occasionally honors students' wishes to go to ball games or a themed restaurant, especially if they do well in their academic classes. "We try to keep it fun," adds Abramowitz.
Special education: Students with special needs are placed in Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) classes with general education students, and taught by 2 teachers.
2004 REVIEW: Armed with the belief that "a small school is not a big school with fewer students. It has to be unique," Principal Bruce Abramowitz of the new High School of Computers and Technology has an ambitious goal: to establish a place where students pass their Regents exams, receive training in computer hardware and network maintenance, and learn that all their classes are interconnected.
Abramowitz, a longtime vocational educator from Alfred E. Smith High School, sees trade classes as food for his students' academic appetites. His plan is for graduates to be certified and job-ready, even though he hopes most students will go to college. The school has already attracted many students who are interested in pursuing computer repair and networking as careers. "We'll show them it's related to their academic classes," he says, predicting that interest in all subjects will go up and students will be prepared for a "career in college."
The school, which opened with a 9th grade in September 2004, is located in the Evander Childs high school complex, where it shares space with other small schools. There are metal detectors in the building and students in all the schools must have their personal belongings scanned when they arrive. A new grade will be added each year, until the school has a full 9th-12th grade program.
Like many of the new small high schools opening in the city, the school is required to pair with a community group or groups. Its lead "partner" is Vision Education, a Manhattan-based consulting firm which is helping the administration to design an interdisciplinary curriculum combining technology and academic subjects. On our visit, students in English class wrote about themselves, their dreams, and curiosities and would later interview classmates, research the historical context and setting of their friends' stories. They planned to publish their writings on a CD.
Classes are 60 minutes long here, while most high school classes are 43. In addition to passing Regents exams, graduates will have also taken a series of tests in computing to get their certification. In the 9th grade, students learn to use Microsoft Office; in 10th grade they move on to hardware and operating system technology classes, while 11th and 12th grades are devoted to Cisco networking material. In addition, Abramowitz is seeking to work with Bronx Community College, so that the high school computer courses will count for credit at the college. Students may also opt to join a Lego-robotics club after school.
The school is enforcing a dress code of casual business attire: shirts with collars and slacks or skirts. But the day of our visit, two weeks after the school opened, students were still awaiting delivery of another article of clothing they will be required to wear lab jackets personalized with their names. The school was also waiting for a computer lab and administrative support. Despite these delays, most students were productive and focused in class, and seemed comfortable with sitting and working in groups. Noisier kids from other schools in the building crossed through the halls, but the Computer high school students made relatively smooth transitions between classrooms.
Admissions: Parents and students should attend the school's open house and articulate their intention to apply for the school. (Catherine Man, September 2004)
About the students
About the school
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About the leadership
About the teachers
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Programs and Admissions
All students will complete a four year sequence of computer repair and maintenance and will be required to complete exams in Microsoft Office, A+ Computer hardware and software and Network +.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP English, AP US History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Softball, Swimming, Volleyball