Sunset Park High School
Small school feel in bright new building
No Regents chemistry or physics
Sunset Park High School, housed in a bright new building, has the feel of a small school, even though it serves more than 1,300 students. The students are divided into three learning communities where students takes classes together for the first three years so teachers can get to know them well.
Sunset Park is committed to teaching students of all abilities in the same classes. Students with special needs as well as those learning English are integrated into regular college-prep classes, many of which have two teachers.
Principal Vicki Antonini acknowledges its challenging for teachers to reach children with different academic preparation in the same class, but she says the benefits are undeniable. Unlike many schools where weaker students only take three years of math and science, everyone at Sunset Park takes four years of math (including pre-calculus) and science (including classes such as forensics and environmental science). The schools graduation rate for students receiving special education services is far above the citywide average.
Antonini says the combination of extra time spent on each subject and extra teachers in the classroom helps everyone achieve. For example, all freshman take three hours of algebra, one hour of applied algebra, and three hours of statistics each week. On our visit, we saw a pre-calculus classa required course for seniorswith three teachers. Students worked at their own pace, using a combination of face-to-face instruction and online learning at computers.
A downside: There are not a lot of high-level courses. The school doesnt offer Regents-level physics or chemistry. The school's only Advanced Placement offering, Spanish, meets at "zero period" before the school day starts. However, students may take College Now classes on Saturdays through Brooklyn College.
Teachers use projects to spark students curiosity. For example, the environmental science teacher uses a "citizen science" approach focused on how students can use science to affect their community and daily lives, like an analysis of the ongoing oyster bed restoration project in Bay Ridge.
Advisory classes are co-led with staff from the Center for Family Life, the school's founding community partner, as well as 11th-graders enrolled in an advisory leadership elective. The goal of advisory, besides academic reflection and goal setting, is social-emotional development and building a safe, supportive environment throughout the school and community. We observed one technology-themed advisory that was preparing to teach lessons to a 6th-grade class at nearby MS 136 about the small robots they had built and the "trash basketball" hoops they had printed on Sunset Park's 3-D printers.
Student representatives of each grade on the Leadership Team run monthly activities like a Poetry Slam, Spirit Week or Cultural Day to engage students and build community.
The school offers a robust after-school program, including PSAL sports such as baseball, soccer, volleyball, badminton and one of the first girls wrestling teams in the city. In addition, teachers and students co-lead tutoring and clubs like yoga, movies, cooking, woodworking and Bollywood dancing. The students meet up for these activities in the welcoming, comfortable cafeteria, where they can get a hot meal after school before splitting off with their clubs. Dozens of Center for Family Life staff, counselors, teachers and students happily stay at school until 6 pm.
Family involvement is a high priority, and PTA meetings are tied to school events like College Nights, workshops on immigration and Multicultural Night. At Sunset Park, students lead their own teacher conferences and convey their strengths, weaknesses and goals for improvement to their parents along with their advisors.
Most graduates attend CUNYs or SUNYs, and have come back to tell their teachers they were well-prepared to write research papers and to meet deadlines, school leaders said.
SPECIAL EDUCATION:Sunset Park is modeled on the Queens High School of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences, which has successfully integrated students with special needs into general education classes, many of which have two teachers.Sunset Park has adopted the same approach for its many new immigrant students from Mexico and Central America, Yemen and China. Rather than segregating children into classes of English as a second language, Sunset Park newcomers share a class with students who are fluent in English and receive assistance from an ESL teacher.
ADMISSIONS:Priority goes to Districts 15 and 20 students, and then to Brooklyn students, who attend an information session. (Nicole Mader, April 2015)
About the students
About the school
Is this school safe?
About the leadership
About the teachers
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How does this school serve English Language Learners?
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Programs and Admissions
Through our partnership with the Institute for Student Achievement, we are a college-preparatory school. Part of our mission is to ensure all students graduate within four years having choices in post-secondary educational options that best match their short and long term career goals. We are unwavering in accomplishing this in an inclusive environment undergirded by our core values of equity, community and collaboration. Learner-led, inquiry learning is the way we see all students grow.
French, Italian, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Computer Science, AP English Language and Composition, AP Spanish
Boys PSAL teams
Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Handball, Soccer, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball, Wrestling
Brooklyn NY 11232