Accelerated academics plus fitness, music, drama, technology, art
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)
Safety & Vibe
Faculty & Staff
Advanced Foreign Language
AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science
AP/IB Math or Science
Programs & AdmissionsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
OfferingsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
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
Contact & Location
320 Beach 104th Street
Rockaway Park NY 11694
Trains: , to Beach 105th St
Buses: Q21, Q22, Q53-SBS, QM16
This school is in its own building.