Academy of American Studies

Grades: 9-12
Staff Pick

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)

School Stats

Academics

School
Citywide
How many students graduate in 4 years?
 
99%
How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
 
100%
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
 
93%
Average daily attendance
 
93%
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
 
17%
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
 
78%
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
 
78%
From the 2019-20 School Quality Guide and 2020-21 NYC School Survey

Students

1118
Number of students
644 Citywide Average

Race/Ethnicity


School
Citywide
Low-income students
 
69%
Students with disabilities
 
10%
Multilingual learners
 
4%
From the 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Safety & Vibe

School
Citywide
How many students were suspended?
 
0%
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
 
84%
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
 
24%
How many students say that some are bullied at their school because of their gender or sexual orientation?
 
17%
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey and 2019-20 NY State Report Card

Faculty & Staff

School
Citywide
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
 
60%
10.0
Years of principal experience at this school
7 Citywide Average
342
Number of students for each guidance counselor or social worker
157 Citywide Average

Teachers’ Race/Ethnicity


How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
 
93%
Are teachers effective?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey, 2019-20 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

Calculus

 
10%

Computer Science

Not offered in 2019-20

Physics

 
22%

Advanced Foreign Language

 
25%

AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science

 
60%

AP/IB Math or Science

 
4%

Music

 
6%
From unpublished, anonymized data from the 2019-20 school year provided by the New York State Education Department, brought to you by

College Readiness

School
Citywide
How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
 
94%
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
 
96%
From the 2019-20 School Quality Guide
How many students filled out a FAFSA form by the end of their senior year?
 
81%
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?
 
47%
How many of those TAP recipients made it through college? Learn more
From unpublished, anonymized student-level data for the class of 2011-12 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

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.

Offerings

From the 2021 High School Directory

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

Stunt

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

NYC Department of Education: MySchools

Contact & Location

Location

28-04 41st Avenue
Long Island City NY 11101

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


Contact

Principal: William Bassell

Parent Coordinator: Mark Solkoff

Website

Other Details

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No

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