Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy VI
The school is modeled after the Air Force philosophy of leadership training
Students must enter through a metal detector
Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy VI (KAPPA VI) occupies two floors in the beautiful Far Rockaway campus. Though students must enter through a metal detector, Principal Gary Dumornay is on hand to welcome his students to this unusual public school, modeled after the Air Force philosophy of leadership training. Students, who are called cadets, wear a formal uniform of blue slacks (khaki for eighth graders), light blue shirts, ties and, on Fridays, jackets. Each class, called a squadron, is named after a NASA space mission, such as Apollo, Odyssey and Endeavor.
The school’s aim is to be an “Ivy League Middle School Academy,” with a long-run goal of preparing students for college. It appears to be making strides in that direction. The school offers the high school-level algebra and Living Environment Regents exams to eighth graders, increasing the chance that they will be prepared to take Advanced Placement courses in high school. Students are encouraged to take the specialized high school admissions test, and every year some are accepted. Apart from the city-wide dip in test scores in 2010, KAPPA VI students have so far done well on both English language arts and math tests. In fact, math at the school is a point of pride, and the school’s math team competes in city-wide math competitions, and has done very well at recent events. Students also compete to answer a weekly math problem, with a prize for the first correct answer.
Some students continue to struggle with some basic skills. However, both Dumornay and the teachers we spoke with stress the level of support they are offering students, including after school and Saturday help and illustrations of how to structure their writing. We looked over student essays in a variety of subjects, and they show the result of this help. The essays were clearly organized and thoughtful, yet some contained some basic grammatical and spelling errors.
KAPPA VI also offers a wide range of enrichment courses, including art and music. During our visit we heard the student band playing the opening theme of “Star Wars.” More than half the students stay for after school activities, which include homework help, leadership activities and even flight simulation. Students also visit local colleges, like St. John’s University and New York University.
Dumornay stresses that parent involvement is a key part of making the school work. Parents must sign a contract when their child is accepted, requiring them to participate in at least eight Parent-Teacher Association meetings, and to make sure students wear their uniforms every day.
Special Education: The school offers Collaborative Team Teaching classes.
Admissions: Parents must attend an open house to get an application. Students must submit grades and an essay. Both parents and student are interviewed by the school. Most students are from Queens, but the school accepts students from other boroughs. (Tom Jacobs, March 2011)