Northside Charter High School
Latin instruction, uniforms, long school day
Northside Charter School, opened in 2009 on the top floor of MS 126, is a traditional school with a long school day. Classes run from 7:55 am to 4:10 pm every day except Wednesday, when classes run until 1:08 pm, leaving those afternoons for teacher professional development. All students take Latin and wear a uniform of black pants or skirts, white shirts and gray ties. Students who are out of uniform may be kept after school for detention.
The discipline code is strictly enforced: On our visit a few weeks into the school year, three students had been suspended, mostly for skipping detention, and one was expelled for consistently skipping classes, administrators say. That said, students are also rewarded with merits for good behavior, which hang in the school hallway. Students say teachers are helpful and caring. Every student is assigned an advisor to track academic and nonacademic performance.
Students must take four years of English, four years of history, four years of math, three years of science, and one year of Latin. Latin is the only foreign language offered. Eddie Calderon-Melendez, founder of Williamsburg Charter School and the two other schools in the Believe Schools Network, says he hopes these classes will help students with the SAT and with grammar. Everything you read will have reference to something Greek or Roman or Latin, he says. [UPDATE: Northside Charter High School is no longer affiliated with the Believe Schools Network].
School administrators make surprise uniform checks several times a week, and anyone not dressed properly will spend at least 15 minutes in detention after school, and may get a call home. The school has a zero tolerance policy, says operations director Racquel Brown.
The school had turnover in its leadership after its first year. When we visited early in the fall of the schools second year, the new directors one for instruction and one for operations were still settling in.
Special education: About 15 percent of the students receive special education services. A teacher of English as a Second Language works with students in small groups and also helps classroom teachers adapt their lessons for ESL students.
Northside Charter shares a building with Citizens of the World Charter School 1 and with MS 126. All three schools share a gym, cafeteria, auditorium and library in the building, constructed in 1966. Students use McCarren Park across the street for after school sports clubs and teams; the school has no dedicated outdoor space. (Jill Grossman, September 2010; updated Ella Colley, December 2014 and October 2015)