Frederick Douglass Academy VIII Middle School
Orderly, high-performing school, with strong arts and academics
Far from the subway; small gym and cafeteria
Located in the shadow of the huge Spring Creek housing development, Frederick Douglass Academy VIII offers a safe, stimulating environment for children who travel from throughout District 19 for an education that allows them to explore the arts as well as academics.
At FDA VIII, like others in the loose network of Frederick Douglass Academy Schools, students are known as scholars and classes are named after famous colleges. Teachers and administrators know each student and parent welland scholars know they must follow the rules or risk being called out for demerits or detention.
Each morning begins with students reciting the FDA creed. In a 6th grade classes, we saw a writing lesson in which students described how they were incorporating the creed's tenets in their everyday life. Whether wearing maroon sweaters and polo shirts, or sweatpants and a tee shirt for gym class, students are polite and actively engaged in the lessons. Community service is mandated.
Good behavior is expected but there was loud and lively discussion in many classes, with students working together on experiments, sharing their solutions for math problems, or critiquing one another's presentations in French class.
Some 8th graders take algebra and biology Regents exams for high school credit, as well as the French proficiency exam.
FDA VIII got a grant from the Matisse Foundation to expand the arts. It offers electives in string instruments, drumming, African dance, visual arts and chorus. Students are introduced to different arts forms in 6th grade and then choose to specialize in 7th grade. Average class size for academics is 25-28 in FDA VIII but the arts classes are much smaller.
To expand student horizons beyond East New York, students go on trips abroad: in 2012, 30 students went on a 10 day trip to Europe, touring London, Spain and France; in 2010 a group of 50 students and parents went to Ghana.
FDA VIII shares a building with PS 346. It is a small school, but unlike other District 19 schools, enrollment is on the rise. Founded in 2007 with 75 students in 6th grade, there were 336 students in 2017. The shared gym is small but students also use the sports center at the Spring Creek housing complex. There is a dance studio, a visual arts studio, and a music room, but no library. The cafeteria is too small for everyone to eat together so 8th graders eat in a room across the hall.
Graduates attend a variety of high schools, mainly in Brooklyn. The largest percentage goes to the Brooklyn High School of the Arts.
ADMISSIONS: Priority to District 19. Students must attend an open house or tour and take entrance exams in ELA, math and writing. Applicants are interviewed and their state math and ELA scores are considered. There are more than 500 applicants for 100 sixth grade seats. (Pamela Wheaton, visit October 2013, updated with web reports, July 2017)