Scholars' Academy

Grades: 6-12
Staff Pick

Our Insights

What’s Special

Accelerated academics plus fitness, music, drama, technology, art

The Downside

Remote location

Scholars' Academy brings together high-achieving students from across District 27 to form a diverse middle and high school community. The school is known for rigorous academics but also offers a wide array of sports and arts classes, as well as cutting-edge technology instruction.

The bustling life inside the three-story building is all the more pronounced given the remote landscape outside—elevated subway tracks, generic high-rise towers and the sound of seagulls above the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay. Inside, in every classroom, alert teens work together in small groups on clear-cut tasks.

Principal Brian O'Connell, a native of the peninsula, calls Scholars' a "haven for positive integration," and while it is racially and ethnically diverse, we were also impressed by the fact that as many girls as boys told us they planned to pursue male-dominated fields such as civil engineering, electrical engineering and medicine. Recent Scholar’s Academy graduates have earned admission to Cornell, Harvard, Columbia University and other top-tier schools.

Easing into middle school, students travel in a group to math, science and humanities classes. We saw 7th-graders immersed in articles about life in Alabama in 1933 in preparation for reading the Depression-era novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In the music technology lab, 8th-graders studied 12-bar blues chords as part of a unit on jazz, informed by their lessons on slavery and segregation in humanities.

By the end of middle school, all students will have completed three high school courses. Ninth-graders have a course load typical of juniors in most high schools, taking the English, geometry, physics, Spanish, U.S. history and government Regents. Global studies is completed in three semesters instead of four.

All high school students are expected to complete four years of math, science and English. A partnership through St. Francis College in Brooklyn allows students to complete up to 30 college credits in 11th and 12th grade. The school has a total of 15 Advanced Placement course offerings.

Student dismissal is at 1:12 pm on Fridays to allow teachers to plan lessons. All staff members have web pages and use varying blended learning models, which combines face-to-face and online learning in a self-paced format, and "flipped" instruction, where kids watch videos of recorded teacher lessons at home and do "homework" in class, consisting of exercises, projects or lab experiments in small groups. Every classroom is equipped with iPads, chromebooks or Macbooks. Twelfth-graders in the blended economics class were learning how to budget money for college at the time of our visit.

Sixth graders rotate through seven STEM courses including coding, Lego Robotics, Agriculture, Stop Motion Animation and the Stock Market Game, while high school students study engineering and computer science.

The school's curriculum and day-to-day lessons are transparent to students and parents online, part of a massive effort to be transparent, according to O'Connell. "It shouldn't be mystery what your children are learning," he said, adding that self-paced learning is essential to helping bright students make progress and not just coast on their achievements.

The school hosts sporting events accompanied by their own marching band. Archery, bowling, tennis, lacrosse and swimming are some of the more unusual offerings. The latest is STUNT, a kind of acrobat cheerleading.

All students take visual arts and music classes. Eleventh-graders produce weekly news broadcasts in the media elective, while other students may help produce the school newspaper or join drama or stage crew and more.

Several graduating seniors revealed their very specific future plans to us, ranging from McCauley Honors (pre-med) and Stonybrook (electrical engineering) to St. Johns (elementary education) and St. Francis (accounting). Students have been accepted to Pratt and Parsons, as well as Cornell and Princeton.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school’s special education population increased from zero percent in 2014 to 12 percent in three years.

ADMISSIONS: Open to students and residents of New York City. Scholars' accepts about 200 incoming 6th-graders from roughly 1,000 applicants. Priority in high school is given to middle school students. It is extremely difficult for outsiders to gain entry at the high school level. (Lydie Raschka, May 2014; updated, staff interviews, October 2017; admissions update 2022)

School Stats


How many students graduate in 4 years?
How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
Average daily attendance
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
From the 2020-21 School Quality Guide and 2020-21 NYC School Survey


Number of students
611 Citywide Average


Low-income students
Students with disabilities
Multilingual learners
From the 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Safety & Vibe

How many students were suspended?
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
How many students say that some are bullied at their school because of their gender or sexual orientation?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey and 2019-20 NY State Report Card

Faculty & Staff

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
Years of principal experience at this school
8 Citywide Average
Number of students for each guidance counselor or social worker
226 Citywide Average

Teachers’ Race/Ethnicity

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
Are teachers effective?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey, 2020-21 School Quality Guide, 2019-20 NY State Report Card, 2021 Guidance Counselor Report and this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Advanced Courses

Which students have access to advanced courses at this school? Learn more



Computer Science




Advanced Foreign Language


AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science


AP/IB Math or Science



From unpublished, anonymized data from the 2019-20 school year provided by the New York State Education Department, brought to you by

College Readiness

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
From the 2020-21 School Quality Guide
How many students filled out a FAFSA form by the end of their senior year?
From the 2020-21 FAFSA data released by Federal Student Aid, brought you by
How many graduates of this school received Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funding to attend a NYS college?
How many of those TAP recipients made it through college? Learn more
From unpublished, anonymized student-level data for the class of 2014 provided by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) in coordination with the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), brought to you by
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs & Admissions

From the 2021 High School Directory

Scholars' Academy

Admissions Method: Screened


From the 2021 High School Directory

Language Courses


Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Chemistry, AP Physics 1, AP Art History, AP English Language and Composition, AP Biology, AP Computer Science A, AP Music Theory, AP Physics C: Mechanics, AP United States History, AP Calculus AB, AP Psychology, AP Calculus BC, AP World History: Modern, AP English Literature and Composition

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Swimming

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball

Coed PSAL teams

Golf, Stunt

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on NYCDOE’s MySchools

NYC Department of Education: MySchools

Contact & Location


320 Beach 104th Street
Rockaway Park NY 11694

Trains: A Line, S Line to Beach 105th St

Buses: Q21, Q22, Q53-SBS, QM16


Principal: Michele Smyth

Parent Coordinator: Kristine Supple


Other Details

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No

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