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Elementary School Middle School High School

Academy of American Studies

Grades: 9-12
Staff Pick
28-04 41st Avenue
Long Island City NY 11101
Phone: 718-361-8786

Our Insights

What’s Special

History-oriented field trips and theater classes

The Downside

Cramped quarters in two buildings

At the Academy of American Studies (AAS), students study history by walking the Freedom Trail in Boston. They explore social change and the Vietnam War in the 1960s by acting out scenes from the musical Hair. "We bring history to life," says assistant principal Mark Solkoff, adding that families in Queens see the school as a good alternative to the city’s specialized high schools. “Parents feel very comfortable sending their kids here." 

AAS was founded in 1996 with support from The Gilder Lehrman Institute, a foundation that seeks to bolster the study of American history in public schools by offering money for trips and other extras. Students take history classes all four years, reading and examining original source documents, art, letters, political cartoons and music lyrics from the period of study. They read memoirs and graphic novels, and watch films. “Textbooks give us the surface information, but our teachers dig deeper,” Solkoff says.

History-related field trips, spread over all four years, help facilitate this deeper digging. Students visit such places as Plymouth, Massachusetts, to study the Colonial period, and Washington D.C. and Gettysburg. Field trips go beyond history as well, with the journalism class, for instance, visiting the New York Times printing plant and sitting in on editorial meetings at People and Time magazines. The school hosts overseas trips to Germany, Amsterdam and Spain. In a partnership with the 92nd Street Y, small groups of students attend evening author talks at the Y for free, with door-to-door transportation and pizza dinner provided.

Upper-level students take theater as one of their required arts classes. “The theater program is really thriving,” says Solkoff. “[We have] playwriting, acting, a festival of one-act plays. Playwrights have written what their peers are performing.” One example: a play called Doin’ Time, set in jail.

AAS offers both French as a foreign language and American Sign Language. The school has a reputation for its work with visually impaired students, employing the services of a visiting vision teacher, Solkoff says. 

William Bassel became principal in 2011 after many years as principal of Long Island City High School. He has expanded the number of Advanced Placement courses and is credited with bringing more structure to the school—no visible hats, cell phones or iPods.

On school surveys teens report that they feel safe and respected. Most teachers would recommend the school to other families. The school runs on three staggered schedules that begin as early as 7:05 a.m. Some classes are 79 minutes long. Classes end at noon on Wednesdays so students can participate in clubs and get extra help from teachers during office hours.

The school is in two buildings separated by a quiet residential street. A new building is planned for behind the larger north campus building currently shared with Newcomers High School. It is slated to be ready in September 2021.

Sports are campus-wide. As part of a national focus to keep kids safe, students do not go out for lunch, Solkoff says.

Students may earn college credits on-site in one of 10 college courses. Many clubs foster leadership and self-expression, including student government, debate, Eagles in the Afternoon (a radio team) and peer tutoring. Graduates attend CUNY and SUNY schools, as well as Syracuse University, Boston University and Penn State, among others.

ADMISSIONS: The school admits about half its students via the educational option method, a formula designed to attract a mix of high-, average- and low-achieving students. The remaining half of the student body is chosen based on grades and test scores. Tours are offered in the fall. (Lydie Raschka, interview and web reports, April 2018)

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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2019-20 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
86% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
37% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
79% Citywide Average

From 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
2% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
76% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many students graduate in 4 years?
82% Citywide Average
How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
48% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
41% Citywide Average
How many graduates stay enrolled in college for at least 3 semesters?
67% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
87% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
38% Citywide Average

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
66% Citywide Average
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
68% Citywide Average

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

Academic Humanities
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description:

Focus is on the humanities, literature, writing, and American history, and also offers a full range of math and science courses. All students take Senior Thesis, a college preparatory research and writing class as well.

Intensive Academic Humanities
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description:

Focus is on the humanities, literature, writing, and American history, and also offers a full range of math and science courses. All students take Senior Thesis, a college preparatory research and writing class as well.


Language Courses

French, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP English Language and Composition, AP European History, AP Calculus AB, AP Macroeconomics, AP United States History, AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Calculus BC, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP Human Geography


Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Soccer, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Flag Football, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball

Coed PSAL teams


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

Contact & Location


Long Island City (District 30)
Trains: 7 Line, N Line, W Line to Queensboro Plaza; E Line, M Line, R Line to Queens Plaza; F Line to 21st St-Queensbridge; G Line to Court Square
Buses: B62, Q100, Q101, Q102, Q103, Q32, Q39, Q60, Q66, Q67, Q69, X63, X64, X68


William Bassell
Parent Coordinator
Mark Solkoff

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Metal detectors?

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