M.S. 216 George J. Ryan
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Solid record of student achievement; a lot of big-school extras
Located in a quiet, residential neighborhood in Fresh Meadows, high-performing MS 216 is the largest school in District 26 and home to a diverse student population. It boasts a consistent record of sending more than one-third of its graduates to specialized high schools, in addition to popular choices such as Townsend Harris, Francis Lewis and Cardozo. The school offers three options for high-achieving students in each grade: ICG (intellectually gifted children), G&T (gifted and talented) and honor/SPE (special progress enriched). Additionally, there are general education and team-taught special education classes.
MS 216 received the highest rating of “well developed” in all five categories on NYC’s school quality review. It enjoys excellent attendance and good results on achievement tests.
It is also safe and orderly, considering its large size. Longtime principal Reginald Landeau says: “No one group is so predominant that they end up dominating. Chinese, Punjabi, African American, Caucasian and Latino children all hang out together.” Combined cultural events provide children with an opportunity to find out what they have in common, he adds, such as during a culminating event for Chinese New Year and Black History, when the school featured African drummers and dancing Chinese dragons performing to a packed house. The school has staff members who can assist with Bengali, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Urdu translation.
MS 216 is so popular that some families move in with relatives or rent basement space in the school’s zone to get in. Every class is at the limit of 33 students. “I wish we had a fourth floor,” Landeau says, adding that some teachers do not have their own classrooms. Fortunately, many rooms are big since they were initially built as woodshops or ceramics studios. These now serve as science or robotics rooms. MS 216 is one of two NYC middle schools with a stand-alone robotics program in which every 6th-grader participates. The school hosts, and has often won, the Queens LEGO Robotics Tournament.
The school is equipped with SmartBoards and iPads, Chromebooks or laptops in every classroom. It offers Software Engineering classes for select students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades.
The student population is divided into three themed academies: Science Exploration, Media Arts, and Law and Justice. While the core academic curriculum is identical for all three, each academy’s specific theme allows teachers to create thematic-based units of study. For example, Law and Justice's 6th-graders debate the ethics of cloning, and its 8th-graders spar over current political issues and how they affect U.S. policy. Students in Science Exploration help the school reduce its carbon footprint.
Sixth-graders rotate through “talent” classes in chorus, dance, instrumental music and visual arts. Seventh- and 8th-graders can major in one of the talents or take academic electives.
The school has a math team, chess team, boys and girls basketball, cheerleading, volleyball, guitar club and a Broadway musical theater program. It has three gender-sensitive mentoring groups including one to support girls interested in math. The Saturday Academy offers dance, filmmaking and photography. Students may propose new ideas for clubs; recent additions include a soccer team and a running club, Landeau says.
Spanish is the only foreign language offered. Students visit Spanish restaurants and other venues to practice the language. Interested students may sign up for Chinese language arts after school.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school with two screened gifted and talented programs. Admission to IGC is based on standardized test scores, grades, conduct and attendance. Applicants must provide an on-demand writing sample, sit for an entrance exam and participate in an interview. Admission to G&T is based on a combination of factors that make up a “composite score”: the final 4th-grade report card counts for 35 percent, state tests for 35 percent, student performance indicators for 20 percent and attendance for 10 percent. (Lydie Raschka, web reports and interview, March 2018)Read more