H.S. 640 Harry Van Arsdale Educational Complex

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What’s Special

New ventures, including a working pharmacy in the basement.

The Downside

On some floors kids wander in and out of classrooms with impunity.

Our Review

Harry Van Arsdale High School (once known as Eli Whitney High School) closed in June 2007 due to poor performance. The building is now shared by three respected smaller high schools.

Students at Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design follow a rigorous four-year curriculum in preservation arts, engineering and architecture, from drafting, mixing mortar and concrete to learning sophisticated computer programs used by professional architects.

Brooklyn Prep has a strong arts program and an interesting mix of classes, including drama, psychology, sign language, guitar, chorus and robotics. Students present and defend their best work through a portfolio process at the end of each semester. Teachers oversee two well-equipped studios and offer a good selection of art classes including printmaking, drawing, multimedia, studio art, street art, digital portfolio and experiences in 3-D.

Williamsburg Prep has a reputation as the most academically rigorous of the three schools. Rather than have kids end up in remedial classes in college, the school requires them to take a small senior seminar devoted to writing 5- and 10-page research papers on topics like the Vietnam War. A full-time community outreach person recruits heavily from the Williamsburg neighborhood, keeping in close contact with middle school principals who funnel brainy kids to Williamsburg Prep. More than half the students come from IS 318. (Lydie Raschka, April 2014)

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257 North 6th Street
Brooklyn NY 11211
(District 14)


Samuel Sloves

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