Upper West Side
An avenue-by-avenue guide to the most family-friendly area outside Orlando.
Thu May 15 2008
145 West 84th Street, Upper West Side. 917-441-5600. Grades 9--12.
What's special: State of the art facilities with an emphasis on technology.
Downside:Low attendance; slow progress in academics.
Louis D. Brandeis High School has suffered from a history of poor performance and disorder, but in the last few years has made real strides toward improvement. In 2003 New York State took it off its list of failing schools, and the graduation rate has begun to climb. In addition, the school has received a facelift and benefited from a number of new resources. That's not to say that all is perfect: the attendance rate is a worrisome 73 percent and while scores are rising, they are still below par. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
237 West 61st St, Upper West Side. 212-245-2807. Grades 9--12.
What's special: Conscientious, caring teachers and lots of arts.
Downside: Overcrowding; some kids may need more structure.
One of the most popular high schools in the city, Beacon offers students a liberal arts education with a progressive bent, a rich arts curriculum, and caring teachers who always seem willing to help. Art rooms, a well-equipped photography lab, a small theater and music studios offer students the chance to work on creative projects in depth. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
108 Amsterdam Avenue, Upper West Side. 212-496-0700. Grades 9--12.
What's special: A haven for artists with a nice racial mix.
Downside: The size of the school can be overwhelming.
LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts is a highly selective, widely acclaimed school that trains students for the country's best art schools and music conservatories, as well as for conventional academic colleges and universities. The eight-story building opened in 1984 with the merger of two older schools, the High School of Music and Art and the High School of Performing Arts, made famous by the movie "Fame." Students take a regular academic course load and as well as three to four periods a day of their chosen art specialty: drama, dance, vocal music, and instrumental music or studio art, and the newest specialty, technical theater, in which students learn aspects of stagecraft such as lighting and costume and set design. Professional artists, including musicians from the New York Philharmonic and the New York City Opera, teach studio courses. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
140 West 102nd Street, Upper West Side. 212-678-7300. Grades 10--12.
What's special: Enthusiastic staff dedicated to education of older students who have not found success elsewhere.
Downside: Attendance is poor. Reconciling an alternative culture and new state standards remains a challenge.
One of the city's oldest transfer alternative schools, Ed Reynolds West Side is named for its late and beloved founder, who started the school in 1972 when the idea of alternative education was still untested. The school is housed in a modern building with a newly renovated gym, the latest in technology, a well-equipped arts room and impressive science labs. The facilities are a clear draw for students and its location attracts many young, enthusiastic teachers. However, on a given day up to one-third of the students may be absent. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
122 Amsterdam Avenue, Upper West Side. 212-799-4064. Grades 9--12.
What's special: Teaching artists from the Lincoln Center Institute.
Downside: School is housed in a windowless basement.
The High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry offers students the chance to explore dance, music, drama, and visual arts with teaching artists from the not-for-profit Lincoln Center Institute just across the street. This new, small school, one of five in the old Martin Luther King Jr. High School building, uses the arts to engage students and enrich their lives. \"We think the arts should be a strong part of a child\'s education, [but] we don\'t focus on performance or technique,\" said Principal Stephen Noonan, a graduate of the city\'s Leadership Academy, a program to train new principals, and the former assistant principal at Samuel Gompers High School in the Bronx. Rather, he said, the school strives to integrate arts into the academic curriculum and to encourage students to appreciate various art forms. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
122 Amsterdam Ave, Upper West Side. 212-501-1235. Grades 9--12.
What's special: A new approach to college prep.
Downside: Drab building with metal detectors.
A collaboration between Hunter College and the Department of Education, Manhattan/Hunter High School for Science makes an unusual effort to ensure that students are prepared not only for college-level academics, but also for the freedom and responsibility of college life. The new school is designed to address the troubling fact that more than one-third of college students nationally drop out before completing their freshman year. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
122 Amsterdam Ave, Upper West Side. 212-501-1201. Grades 9--12.
What's special: The opportunity to connect with high-powered law firms.
Downside: Oppressive, high-security building.
A large banner proclaiming: "Eighty-six percent attendance!" hung across the corridor of the High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice on the day of our visit. While that number is just a bit above average for city high schools, it represents a big increase for this small school, one of five in the Martin Luther King complex. The High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice has had its share of growing pains since it was founded in 2002. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
122 Amsterdam Ave, Upper West Side. 212-501-1198. Grades 9--12.
What's special: A new mini-school has a principal with a vision and a capable young faculty.
Downside: Housed in an imposing and unwelcoming building, with lingering high security atmosphere.
Martin Luther King Jr. High School of the Arts and Technology is one of two small high schools that opened in the former Martin Luther King, Jr., High School in 2002 in an attempt to revive a building that has been plagued by low student achievement and violence. When we visited Arts and Technology students were attentive and participatory in all the classes we saw. The young, highly articulate faculty work together well and convey an infectious enthusiasm to their students. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
122 Amsterdam Ave, Upper West Side. 212-501-1110. Grades 9--12.
What's special: Unique opportunity for students to work with some of the major media institutions in the city.
Downside: School may not be attractive to students looking for a lot of structure.
The name Urban Assembly Media High School may raise images of a school filled with budding Oprah Winfreys. Indeed, this may be the path that some of the students take, given they are attending a school with such partners as ABC, TimeWarner, and the Daily News. But founding Principal Lynette Delgado has a much broader concept in mind a school focused on teaching about the power of media, how it works, and how it affects our understanding of the truth. "When I see one neighborhood with a lot of cigarette advertising and another with none, I want to explore why and how it affects a community's perception of itself," Delgado told us. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
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