Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Top-notch, conservatory-style arts instruction; spacious, modern facilities

The Downside

Limited foreign language and elective classes

Our Review

Frank Sinatra High School is a vibrant, conservatory-style arts school filled with motivated and talented students who are admitted to one of six studiosdance, drama, instrumental music, vocal music, fine arts, and film and media. The school demands a high level of commitment from its students, who, on a typical day, take a full load of academic classes in addition to two or three periods of art classes and then spend a few hours after school rehearsing for a performance, working on projects, or participating in sports or internships.

Frank Sinatra occupies a spacious, modern building filled with professional-grade equipment and facilities, including a large theater named for the schools founder, Tony Bennett. In addition to ongoing support from Bennetts foundation, Exploring the Arts, students benefit from an extensive roster of partnerships with organizations such as the New York Philharmonic, Shubert Foundation, Kaufman-Astoria Studios, American Ballet Theater, Tribeca Film Festival, art conservatories such as Julliard and Manhattan School of Music and several museums and universities.

Art is everywhere--in the air, on the walls and even in the stairwells, where some students steal away for a few minutes to practice their instruments. The atmosphere is relaxed and students seemed genuinely happy and engaged in both their studio and academic classes.

All music classes, instrumental and choral, serve mixed grades. During our visit we heard the symphonic orchestra rehearse Beethoven's "Symphony No. 8 in F Major" and the choral ensemble perform portions of Gabriel Faures "Requiem."

In the black box theater, a drama teacher led his class through some yoga warm-up exercises, while in the Tony Bennett Theater, other theater students worked on the sound, lighting and stage sets. Elsewhere a group of film students were fine-tuning their placement of b-rolls (cutaway footage), voice-overs and music to enhance their films.

In the large art studios, students work with all types of media ranging from charcoal sketches and oil paintings to digital architectural designs and ceramics made in the schools kilns. In dance classes, pianists accompany students as they work through their warm-ups and routines.

Teachers do an impressive job of weaving art and writing into instruction in academic subjects. In physics students show how force and motion make things work by creating 3-D models that demonstrate these principles, such as carousels (centripetal force) and elevators (counter weight impact on velocity). In living environment, they write and illustrate children's books on cell structure. In statistics, they research and write about the lives and contributions of important women in mathematics.

English teachers assign a nice range of literature including novels, plays and memoirs and tie them into studies in other subjects. For instance, 10th-graders read Night, by Elie Wiesel in English at the same time they study World War II in global history. Teachers also emphasize the writing process in addition to teaching how to construct an argument or an essay. In a freshman class we observed, students were completing a free write exercise, jotting down whatever came to mind, to help them cultivate their writers voice.

While academic instruction is strong, there are some trade-offs. As an art school, Sinatra is only required to offer one year of a foreign language, although it offers two years and plans to add a third-year course in response to parent complaints, said longtime principal Donna Finn. Also, budget and time constraints make it hard to offer many sections of elective and college-level courses. Advanced Placement courses are offered in some subjects and there are a few elective classes such as statistics and forensics. Students can also take courses at LaGuardia Community College. [In 2017, Finn stepped down as principal after serving 16 years. Filling her role is Gideon Frankel, former film teacher and assistant principal at the school.]

Sinatra is not a pressure cooker, but students still feel the weight of balancing art and academic commitments. Kids have to work really hard at managing time. Its like coming to two schools, said Finn. To help keep tabs on students social and emotional needs, the school provides a range of supports, all concentrated in the large guidance suitea safe place where students can find counselors to offer help and address problems.

A full-time college counselor runs the college office, also located in the guidance suite. Nearly all students graduate on time, and most go on to college. Roughly one-third of graduates pursue careers in the arts, but we also have a lot of kids who go on to engineering and nursing too, said Finn.

In addition to attending arts schools such as Parsons, School of Visual Arts, Rhode Island School of Design and Julliard, many attend CUNY and SUNY and private colleges.

SPECIAL EDUCATION:There are ICT classes and SETSS. The school's guidance suite provides work space for speech, physical and occupational therapists and the school psychologist.

ADMISSIONS: Open to students citywide. Admission to all studios is based on an audition plus a review of students grades, test scores and attendance records. Admitted students may apply to change their studio between freshman and sophomore year. (Laura Zingmond, March 2015; principal update, 2017)

About the students

Enrollment
849
Asian
11.1%
Black
13.3%
Hispanic
33.9%
White
34.8%
Other
7.0%
Free or reduced priced lunch
41%
Students with disabilities
12%
English language learners
0%
Male
32%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
111%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
95%
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
9%
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
78%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
20%
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
96%
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
80%
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
11.8
5.3 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
92%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
97%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
92%
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
86%
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
100%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
95%
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 12 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Theater, Visual arts, and Media arts
This school has 16 licensed arts teacher in Dance, Music, Theater and Visual arts

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
86%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
59%
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
88%
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
97%
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
58%
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
0%
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
80%
32% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
97%
41% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
98%
63% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
70%
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
78%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
78%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
78%
90% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
80%
60% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Film and Media Arts
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Study includes text analysis, film as a cultural and historical document, analysis of artist work; courses in video production, film theory and history, industry practices, and legal issues. Students have access to state-of-the-art digital technology.

Fine Arts
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Intensive study of art (theory, production, history, assessment); museum and gallery visits, student exhibitions, visiting artists. Courses--Foundation, 2-D and 3-D Design, Painting, Sculpture, Communication Arts, Print-Making, Portfolio, and Digital Photography.

Instrumental Music
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Small group instruction on orchestral and band instruments; jazz and concert bands, advanced wind ensemble, string and symphonic orchestras, chamber music of all instrument families, theory, ear training, music history and keyboard harmony.

Vocal Music
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Students perform in the Concert Choir, Chorale, Chamber Singers, musical theater, Great American Songbook ensemble, opera workshop and participate in cabaret; curriculum includes voice training, music theory, keyboard, sight singing, diction, and audition preparation.

Dance
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Ballet, Modern Dance, Dance History, Choreography, and dance criticism courses; Jazz, Tap, Ballroom Dancing, Kinesiology, Anatomy, Career Management, and Dance Production courses; students attend live performances and take part in school productions.

Drama
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

A four-year course of study that includes acting technique, scene study, speech for actors, dramatic writing, and course work in performing Shakespeare. The Drama Studio creates mainstage productions each year.

Academics

Language Courses

Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Calculus AB, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP U.S. History, AP World History

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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Location

35-12 35th Avenue
Astoria NY 11106
Astoria (District 30)
Trains: M, R to Steinway St; N, Q to 36 Ave-Washington Ave
Buses: Q101, Q102, Q104, Q66

Contact

Phone
718-361-9920
Principal
Gideon Rafel Frankel
Parent Coordinator
Catherin Marchetta

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