Abacus Guide to Stuyvesant High School

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By Emily Glickman

Essentials

9th – 12th grade, Coed

Battery Park City

345 Chambers Street                            

New York, NY  10003  

(212) 312-4800

www.stuy.edu  

Trains:  2, 3, 4, 5, A, C

Buses:  M6, M9, M10, M22, X23, X29

 

Principal:  Stanley Teitel

Admissions Director:  Gene Blaufarb     

                  

Admissions

Specialized Science High Schools Admissions Test

Only entry points:  9th and 10th grades

% Admitted to this grade:  5%  

Application deadline:  Early November  

Students can enter Stuyvesant only in the 9th or 10th grade.  The sole admissions requirement is a stellar score on the Specialized Science High Schools Admissions Test (known formally as the SSHSAT, and informally as the Sci High Exam).  During this 2½ - hour ordeal, students sweat through multiple-choice math and verbal questions.  Those who score in the top 5 percent or so win a free education at New York City’s most renowned public high school.  Parents’ joy at learning they have avoided a) paying $20,000 a year in private school tuition b) moving to the suburbs or c) sending their darling to an ordinary public school can be overwhelming.  

To put pencil to paper, test-takers must be 8th or 9th graders and residents of New York City.  Students should register through their guidance counselors, and be sure to mark Stuyvesant as their first-choice school on the test itself. 

Since admission is based exclusively on students’ performance on a 1-day test, thorough preparation is advised.  Get a free copy of the Student Handbook for the Specialized Science High Schools from your school, or call the Board of Education at 917-256-4300 or 718-935-3415.  This booklet contains practice questions. 

6th grade public school students should inquire at their schools about the Math Science Institute.  In an effort to boost minority admissions, the Board of Education started this program to prepare students for the admissions test.  Students attend preparatory classes at Stuyvesant from the summer after 6th grade until the 8th grade exam.

Students

Total students:  3050

Students per grade:  800            

Students per class: 

34, required classes

10-34, electives

60% male / 40% female          

50% Asian / 42% White / 4% Black / 4% Latino 

No dress code

At 3,000 students, Stuyvesant is a big school.  Perhaps looking for familiar faces, students tend to congregate with others who share their ethnic backgrounds.  An 11th grader says, “Each group owns a location.  On the 6th floor is the Asian clique.  The 5th floor is Blacks and Hispanics.  Whites hang out on the 2nd and 4th floors and outside at the wall.” 

Despite the segregated cliques, students say that there is little racial tension at Stuyvesant.  Kids have individual friends from other races, and the groups have amiable relations.

The large number of Chinese- and Korean-American students is good news for Asians.  A 10th grader, says: “A lot of us come from schools where we’ve been the minority.  It’s amazing when we come to Stuy to find that we’re not.”  

Blacks and Hispanics, on the other hand, can feel lonely.  At only 8 percent of the school population, they’re a minority.  This is unlike Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech, the other specialized science high schools, where there are more Black and Hispanic kids. 

The Board of Education, which manages Stuyvesant, is grappling with how to even out the racial ratio.  They’re also concerned about the gender mix.  Boys outnumber girls at all the specialized science high schools, including Stuy.  (Attention smart boys looking for dates:  at Townsend Harris, a selective humanities school in Queens, girls outnumber boys.)

Assistant Principal Gene Blaufarb thinks that there are two common reasons girls may choose not to attend Stuyvesant.  Their parents may be worried about sending their little girl off on the train for the long commute to Stuy from boroughs outside Manhattan.  Girls themselves may be worried about competing in math and science.  To Blaufarb, this is unfortunate, since Stuyvesant is an environment where both sexes thrive.

Rich and poor are also on equal ground.  Unlike at some places where your parents' money can impact your popularity, at Stuyvesant, it’s irrelevant.  Nobody brags about their spring break in Bora Bora or their new Prada winter coat.  Children of struggling immigrants, factory workers, teachers, and investment bankers mix in an egalitarian environment.

Since students are admitted based on their scores on a competitive examination, they’re usually smart and driven.  While it’s nice to be accepted for being a brain and to be surrounded by other brains like you, it’s also pressure-provoking for some students.  Unlike at other schools they might have attended, at Stuyvesant, they’re not the biggest fish in the pond, so they have to work harder.

Despite the pressure, motivated students enjoy the sea of opportunity that Stuyvesant provides.  The school offers a tremendous variety of courses, activities, and friends, giving students a preview of the college experience.

Staff

The principal, Stanley Teitel, is a former physics teacher and department chairman.  He has over 30 years of education experience. 

Teachers must be licensed and certified by the NYC Board of Education.  Most have more than 5 years of experience and a master’s degree. 

Academics

Requirements:   

4 years each English, gym, science, social studies

3 years each foreign language, math, second science

1 year each drafting, shop

1 term each art appreciation, music appreciation

# A.P.s:  All subjects

Interesting Electives:     Medical Ethics, Robotics, Multivariate Calculus, Wall Street: American Financial Heartland

Languages:  Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Spanish

Special Programs:

Students are encouraged to research Intel projects with doctors and scientists at NYC hospitals and labs.

Accommodations for students with L.D.:  Yes

Academics at Stuyvesant are strong.  While it’s the kids who take the admissions test, it’s the teachers who need to be smart and on their toes to keep up with their charges.  Many enjoy their work and stay at Stuyvesant for many years.

Science, math, and technology are the school’s raison d’etre.  For the uninitiated, technology refers to technical skills courses. Students take architectural drafting and a choice of shops including photography, ceramics, computer-aided design, and jewelry. 

Challenging science and math classes may be intimidating to students who are not “techy” types.  Fortunately, free help is available from Arista honor student tutors and from teachers.

As long as they’re unafraid of science and math, liberal arts lovers can get an excellent education at Stuyvesant.  There are numerous interesting “selectives” in English lit, history, and art.  Frank McCourt, of Angela’s Ashes fame, is a former English teacher here.

Courses are so difficult at Stuyvesant, students may coast through their freshman year of college.

Graduation

% College-bound: 100%

% Ivy-bound:  Less than 30%

While there could be more of them, college counselors at Stuy are dedicated to their students.  Blaufarb and the counselors offer practice SAT and PSAT testing and lectures on the PSAT, SAT, and SAT II.  These efforts and college counseling help to ensure a good college admissions rate.

One problem students have when applying to college is having to compete against a wide field of Intel science project winners, musical prodigies, chess champs, math geniuses, etc.  Since Harvard can take just so many Stuy kids, some merely smart students lose out.  Nowadays, with college admissions hysteria at an all-time high, a few Stuyvesant students try to game the system by transferring out for senior year.  They figure they stand a better shot applying from their local public school.

While students at many schools receive college guidance, at Stuy they also receive career advice.  Eleanor Archie, a guidance counselor, offers an unusual and rewarding program called Explorers.  Students are frequently invited to career seminars offered at investment banks, accounting firms, law firms, and other workplaces around the city.    

Extracurricular Activities

Sports: 

Boys:  Baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, gymnastics, handball, soccer, swimming, tennis, volleyball, wrestling

Girls:  Basketball, cross-country, gymnastics, handball, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball

Coed:  Fencing, bowling

Activities:  30 publications, 100 clubs

<Note: in 2009, Jeff Menaker, Stuyvesant HS Varsity Tennis Coach, kindly submitted the following update and correction: 

"Stuyvesant has some of the nicest sports facilities of any public school in Manhattan. Children exit the building to the north and, without crossing a single city street, walk two minutes through beautiful Hudson River Park to Pier 40's ball fields- which include soccer, football, a track and a baseball diamond. Before one reaches Pier 40, there are three tennis courts where Varsity Tennis plays home matches. The Girls' Varsity has reached 6 straight PSAL championship matches while playing home matches in Hudson River Park.">

In its hosting of so many clubs, Stuyvesant is more like a college than a high school.   Students can join the renowned math team or debate club, organize with Students for a Free Tibet, or try the Bad Actors’ Club or Starving Artists Anonymous.  There’s even a club for almost every ethnic group.  If none of these appeal, students can start their own club.

Facility

Stuyvesant’s gorgeous building was completed in 1992.  Besides stunning river views, the school boasts multiple science laboratories, technical shops, computer rooms, a state-of-the-art theater, and a closed-circuit television in every classroom, among other amenities.

Except for the bathrooms, the building is clean and inviting.  Spacious classrooms and wide hallways easily accommodate the large school community.

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