Staten Island Technical High School
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Rigorous academics; strong engineering program; students learn Russian; full-time comfort dog
Not all students may want to learn Russian
Staten Island Technical High School (SI Tech) combines the rigor and activities of a big specialized high school with the friendly atmosphere of a neighborhood school. It's a welcoming place for high achievers of all stripes: independent go-getters, kids who like to tinker, and even creative and artsy types. Students tackle college-level work as early as 9th grade, and many graduate with anywhere from 16 to 60 college credits thanks to the school’s extensive range of Advanced Placement (AP) classes and partnerships with universities.
In keeping with the school's name, all students take introductory courses in robotics, research and technical writing, electronics and TV/movie production—the latter taught in a recording studio equipped with professional-grade technology. Students also study CAD (computer-aided design) and have the opportunity to earn industry certification in AutoCAD software, as well as take a course in career and financial management. Upper-grade options include advanced courses in electronics, computer science and TV/movie production. An engineering research program prepares students for science competitions.
All students use laptops or tablet devices in classes throughout the day. Most bring their own device, and for those who can’t afford one, the school provides each with an electronic tablet to use.
Despite the school's emphasis on engineering and technology, the arts have a strong presence, something principal Mark Erlenwein, an SI Tech alumnus (class of 1992), believes is important for a well-rounded high school experience. Roughly one-third of students participate in one of the school's nine bands, and many students perform in school concerts. Drama classes are taught in the school's black box theater; SING! is a popular annual event.
Work-based learning is big at SI Tech. Nearly half of the students are placed in paid internships during the school year or summer. “Many of our students have to declare a college major early because they arrive with a year or two worth of credits,” said Erlenwein. “The internships help them figure out what they want to do before they even start college.”
There's a generous range of AP courses in all subjects, including two levels each of calculus (AB and BC) and physics (B and C). All students take AP World history and United States history. Additional college courses for credit are offered both on- and off-site through partnerships with the College of Saint Rose, College of Staten Island and Kingsborough Community College.
The school's Russian language program is impressive and designed in partnership with the Pushkin State Russian Language Institute in Moscow. All students study Russian for three years and sit for the Advanced Placement exam at the end of 11th grade. Seniors may take a fourth year of Russian and earn college credit for the course through a partnership with SUNY Albany.
SI Tech is not a pressure cooker, but students still feel the weight of challenging work and the desire to achieve. To ratchet down the pressure, the school switched to a letter grading system, which deemphasizes incremental changes in grades, such as the difference between a 93 and a 96 (both are considered an “A”). Erlenwein credits the switch with improving students’ quality of life. “In the past, students would get upset if they got a grade of 89. Now they get an 'A,' which seems a lot better and puts it in perspective.”
To help keep tabs on students’ social and emotional needs, the school has boosted its guidance efforts. All guidance counselors and deans are concentrated in one wing of a floor, to create more of a center—a safe place where students can find lots of people on hand to provide support. The newest addition to the staff is Sheldon, the school’s full-time comfort dog. A student having a rough day may be given a pass to spend some time with Sheldon in either the principal's or guidance counselor’s office.
A rarity in high school, students have gym class daily, which Erlenwein says is important to help them manage stress and stay healthy.
Beyond classes, students have plenty to keep them engaged. There are roughly 100 clubs in addition to the school-year and summer internships. SI Tech and McKee High School have a joint PSAL sports program with more than 40 teams.
Virtually all graduates go on to four-year colleges. In addition to CUNY and SUNY schools, graduates attend competitive public and private colleges and universities, including all of the Ivy League schools.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are few students with special needs requiring services under an IEP (individualized education program), but many more needing accommodations and other supports that are overseen by the guidance staff.
ADMISSIONS: Admission is based on the SHSAT (specialized high schools admissions test) given in the fall. An open house is held in October. About half of SI Tech students live on Staten Island, and most of the rest travel from Brooklyn. The school actively recruits students early on as part of a borough-wide initiative to increase college attendance. The school hosts weekly events for elementary and middle school students. (Laura Zingmond, October 2014; updated via interview, July 2018)
Is this school safe and well-run?
From 2017-18 NYC School Survey
From this school's most recent Quality Review Report
From 2017-18 School Quality Guide
How do students perform academically?
From 2017-18 School Quality Guide
From 2017 NY State Graduation Outcomes
Who does this school serve?
From 2018-19 Demographic Snapshot
From 2017-18 School Quality Guide
Programs & Admissions
Admission to this Specialized High School is based solely on the score obtained on the Specialized High Schools Admission Test (SHSAT). Students should speak to their school counselors in the Fall to register for the SHSAT.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP Macroeconomics, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Statistics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP U.S. History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Golf, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams