J.H.S. 278 Marine Park
Strong arts programs
Large size may not be to everyones liking
Located next to a big but slightly frayed city park, JHS 278 is a large, smoothly operating middle school that provides a diverse mix of students from the surrounding neighborhood with solid academics and extensive arts offerings.
Students choose among visual art, instrumental music, choral music and drama. The school has several bands, some of which have won national recognition, and stages two theatrical productions a yeara musical and a play. Brightly colored art, created by students working together, hang in the auditorium and some hallways.
After a period when the school suffered from declining enrollment, JHS 278 is growing, with more students applying from outside the zone, says longtime Principal Debra Garofalo. It had 16 6th grade classes in 2016-17 and plans to add classes in 7th and 8th grade as well.
High-achieving students can apply for the Center for the Intellectually Gifted (CIG) classes and are selected based on their 4th grade attendance, test scores and grades. In general, the differences between the CIG and regular classes appear slight. Eighth-graders chosen by the school take the Living Environment, American History and Algebra Regents tests, and have additional class time to prepare for the exams. These classes are also open to students who are not in CIG.
In general, the quality of instruction seems high, while not flashy. Teachers seem to engage most students and are willing to confront difficult topics, such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and President Franklin Roosevelts decision not to admit Jews fleeing Nazism to the United States. In an English class, 7th-graders discussed whether they favored the poet Emma Lazaruss approach of welcoming immigrants or President Donald Trumps approach to restrict immigration. An 8th grade class preparing for the Regents adeptly analyzed a political cartoon from the 1930s about the New Deal, while a Living Environment class engaged in a detailed discussion of selective breeding, without much, if any, adolescent snickering.
To keep students from feeling lost in a school that expects to grow to 1,300 students, JHS 278 offers a meet up day before school starts in September. The grades are separated by floor. Each grade has an assistant principal and counselor who move up with the students.
The school feels orderly without being oppressive. It has a suspension rate of around 1 percent, low for a middle school, and its attendance rate is better than average. Garofalo is a stickler for details, picking up stray pieces of paper in the hall, and establishing a series of systems to keep the crowded cafeteria relatively clean and orderly. And she took up the alto sax so she can play with a school band
A former physical education teacher, Garofalo insists the children change for physical education to prepare them for high school. Boys and girls are separated in the gym. Girls are not going to play as effectively when guys are watching them, she says.
The school is in the attendance zone for James Madison High School so many students go there after 278. Edward R. Murrow and Leon Goldstein also are popular choices. JHS 278 has started a program to prepare students for the Specialized High School Admission Test, and students will be able to take the test at 278 during the school week in the hopes that this will reduce stress and enable more students to qualify for the selective schools.
Tucked away in a largely residential corner of Brooklyn, the school is not reachable by subway although there are several bus routes including some designated for JHS 278 students.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: JHS 278 offers ICT and self-contained classes. It also has an ASD NEST program aimed at high functioning students on the autism spectrum, with two NEST classes in each grade.
ADMISSIONS: JHS 278 is a zoned middle school for much of the Marine Park area. It also accepts some students from parts of District 22 outside the zone. District 22 students may apply to the schools CIG program as part of the middle school application process. (Gail Robinson, February 2017)