Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences
Enviable setting, articulate students, many AP courses and computer electives
Far from the subway
Situated on the spacious but remote campus of Kingsborough Community College, Leon Goldstein High School for the Sciences boasts waterside views, a relaxed atmosphere and top-notch academics. The 2002 building has computer and science labs, a ceramics studio with a working kiln, a library and media room, and a cafeteria with a wall of windows. It is connected to Kingsborough's full-size gymnasium and a beautiful swimming pool.
Goldstein attracts some of the best and brightest students in Brooklyn who want a school that's smaller than popular giants like Brooklyn Tech. Its the kind of place where a girl carries around a novel that she is reading for fun, not for English class. Students are treated respectfully, much like the college students they are soon to become.
Academic rigor has stepped up since Principal Scott Hughes came in 2012. A former computer science teacher at Mark Twain middle school, Hughes doubled the number of AP courses--some begin as early as 9th grade--and mandated a longer school day for all four years. "We maximize the 4th year to get them ready for college and career," he said. The number of graduates prepared for college far exceeds the city's average. College Now courses are offered through Kingsborough Community College, allowing students to earn college credits.
Actions that would be problematic in other schools, such as wearing a hat or hoodie, or eating a sandwich in a classroom, are not at Goldstein. Because of the demanding class schedule--each student has four 54-minute academic periods each day--students bring in food to eat at their desks on the days they don't get an official lunch period.
Students are required to take four years of math and science and three years of either Spanish or Italian. There are many math and science offerings, including three sections of calculus, organic chemistry and AP chemistry. Many kids participate in city and school Science Olympiads.
Every freshman and sophomore must take two semesters of computer science to learn digital logic, computer architecture, programming and other sophisticated skills. "We're trying to teach them the Latin of computer science as opposed to learning a particular program," said Hughes. Some teens are getting hands-on entrepreneurial skills, developing a mobile app for youth hostels with Young & Rubicam advertising company.
Despite an emphasis on math, science and computer studies, the English department is arguably the strongest at Goldstein. "If you can't read and write, you cant do science and math," Hughes said. In one class, students reading Animal Farm were making parallels with the Soviet Union. Small groups had created information stations with students traveling from one to another, taking notes and learning from everyones research
Literature and social studies lessons are frequently intertwined. In a global history class, students studied the Chinese Cultural Revolution by examining Mao Tse Tung's quotations, and photographs from the time.
Arts flourish too. There is a jazz band and a chorus and piano classes. Other electives include drama, ceramics, and painting. Seniors work with incoming freshman to prepare for the annual SING! competition.
In addition to peer tutoring, an after-school program is open to all students who need help or are looking for a place to work on class projects. The Child First initiative focuses on the lowest-performing one-third of students by giving those students extra tutoring, mentoring and emotional support.
Girls have a strong voice in the school, making up 55 percent of the population. They field winning PSAL teams, especially in volleyball, tennis and swimming.
In senior year, students are allowed to go out to lunch, on or off campus. Not everyone can handle the freedom--we saw a student being escorted to the dean's office by two adults for cutting class.
Goldstein is a long walk from the closest subway line and many students are driven to school by their parents.
COLLEGE: The majority of graduates go to SUNYs and CUNYs, with a high number enrolling in the prestigious Macauley Honors program, as well as selective private colleges and Ivies, including UPenn, Columbia, Cornell and Princeton.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: About 15 percent of students have IEPs (Individualized Education Plans); some meet the schools stringent academic screen for admission, but many do not. There are ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes on most grades but by the later years, there is a move to integrate all students. There are some students on the autism spectrum but Goldstein is no longer an ASD support school. The building is shared with a District 75 program for autistic students and about 10-12 of them are included in some Goldstein classes.
ADMISSIONS: Admission is based on the 7th grade report card, attendance and punctuality. Minimum required grade for English and social studies is 80; for math and science, 85. There are far more applicants (nearly 5,000 in 2015) than the 250 seats. A detailed breakdown is on the school's website. "It's an authentic, cold-hearted mathematical process," said the principal, who fields many calls from parents wondering why their child wasn't accepted. The largest number of students come from nearby Bay Academy and PS/IS 207. (Pamela Wheaton, April 2015)
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Programs and Admissions
An enriching and challenging curriculum in the sciences and humanities that exceeds city and state requirements.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Art History, AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Human Geography, AP Microeconomics, AP Physics, AP Spanish, AP Statistics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP U.S. History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Basketball, Bowling, Handball, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Bowling, Flag Football, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams
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