Serves a wide ranges of students well
No football or music; limited space for gym
Robert F. Kennedy Community High School has a warm atmosphere, enthusiastic teachers and loyal families who speak more than 28 languages. A longtime teacher calls it “the best of the non-test-into schools around.” Most students graduate on time, and most teachers would recommend the school to other families.
“Parents love that it’s safe and that we know the kids," "says principal Anthony Barbetta. "The focus is on students. We know what they’re struggling with, where they need help.”
The school makes sure teens with disabilities and those learning English get the support they need. Unlike many schools, which face shortages, RFK has a stable of teachers who are dually certified to teach new English speakers and a content area like math, science or history. The three languages most children speak in addition to English are Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic.
The school has a partnership with the Theater Development Fund. The Arts in Schools report shows that here, too, the school takes into account its English learners; one year, Chris Lin, a Queens-based visual artist born and raised in Taiwan, developed art projects with the group of English learners. Children also go to theater performances, such as SpongeBob Squarepants and Come from Away, through the partnership.
Barbetta took over as principal in 2017. He has a good track record as the former principal of Townsend Harris High School and Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School. He is an approachable, likable problem solver, according to testimonials from students and colleagues on the Townsend Harris website. He earns high marks on school surveys.
RFK is focused on getting more graduates ready for college-level work. To this end, the school offers “more AP courses, more science, more college classes,” the principal says, both on-site and at Queensborough Community College. More than 100 children attend a popular Saturday Academy. After-school tutoring is also available.
The school’s size makes it easier for teens to jump into sports, clubs and school celebrations. “That’s the nice part of being in a small school," Barbetta says. Most classes have two teachers and mix in children with special needs, he points out, including in some college classes and Advanced Placement courses. “The kids are together,” he says.
Of course, a smaller school is not able to offer old-fashioned football games and pep rallies, but students say teams are welcoming of non-athletes who want to try a sport as late as junior year. They might try bowling, fencing, baseball, basketball or tennis. There are art and technology classes but no music.
A guidance counselor serves as part-time college adviser. Most students go on to attend City University of New York schools. Some enter the workforce, military or trade schools.
ADMISSIONS: Educational option, designed to admit a range of academic performers. (Lydie Raschka, web reports and interview, February 2018)
Safety & Vibe
Faculty & Staff
Computer ScienceNot offered in 2019-20
Advanced Foreign Language
AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science
AP/IB Math or Science
Programs & AdmissionsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Students have the opportunity to take college-level courses and earn college credit through SUNY Albany, SUNY Farmingdale, Queens College, Queensborough Community College and Vaughn College. As part of College Access for All, students receive individual attention when applying for college, such as free SAT Prep, FAFSA and college application assistance and can attend college trips.
OfferingsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP Chinese Language and Culture, AP Psychology, AP 2-D Art and Design, AP English Language and Composition, AP Calculus AB
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Fencing, Soccer, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Cross Country, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams
Contact & Location
75-40 Parsons Boulevard
Fresh Meadows NY 11366
Buses: Q20A, Q20B, Q25, Q34, Q44-SBS, Q46, Q64, Q65, QM1, QM31, QM35, QM36, QM4, QM44, QM5, QM6, QM7, QM8
This school is in its own building.