Stuyvesant High School
Manhattan NY 10282
Abundant variety of classes and extracurricular opportunities
UPDATE JULY 2016: Eric Contreras was named the new principal of Stuyvesant High School. Contreras was a teacher at high schools in the Bronx and Queens as well as the former principal of the Queens HighSchool of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences. Contreras was most recently in charge of the Department of Education's initiative to revise its social studies curriculum, and his daughter graduated from Stuyvesant in 2016. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Contreras stated that he wants to establish partnerships with middle schools that send fewer students to Stuyvesant. He also wants to focus on the emotional needs of students. "It's a feverishly intellectual, ambitious environment and kids are excited to explore the possibilities...it's equally important that we provide the right supports when they find it overwhelming," he told the Wall Street Journal.The former principal of Stuyvesant, Jie Zhang, announced her departure from the school in June 2016 to become superintendent of the New York Military Academy upstate.
DECEMBER 2014 REVIEW: The most sought-after of the city's selective schools, Stuyvesant High School has an amazingly talented student body and an array of course offerings that rival those of a small college. It has a sparkling, 10-story building with views of the New York harbor and features such amenities as a regulation-size swimming pool. Stuyvesant has long been known as a math-science school, but its English and social studies departments are among the school's strongest.
More than 28,000 students vie for 935 seats in the freshman class. Roughly one-quarter of Stuyvesant's top graduates go to Ivy League or other highly selective colleges such as MIT (Massachussetts Institute of Technology). Students may conduct research with senior scientists, take part in national math competitions or study music at a high level. Immigrants and children of immigrants make up a large proportion of the student body.
The excitement of being enrolled at Stuyvesant comes from being in the company of very bright, engaged students. The school has long been known for its talented students rather than a uniformly strong teaching staff, and kids say the quality of teaching ranges from memorably great to mediocre or worse. The stronger teachers tend to be assigned to the more advanced classes, one mother said. The course selection is vast, including organic chemistry, neurobiology, multivariate and differential calculus, New York City history, video-editing and creative nonfiction. The school gives more Advanced Placement exams than any other school in the city.
Stuyvesant has a reputation as an ultra-competitive pressure cooker. Principal Jie Zhang, a former Stuy parent and specialized high schools network leader who took over after a 2012 cheating scandal, hopes that her increased focus on social-emotional well-being will take some pressure off. Part of the effort to shift the school culture towards a more positive, relaxed atmosphere includes freshmen transition meetings taught by guidance counselors, new guidance offices that are more central and inviting, and more flexibility around the computer science and drafting requirements for all students.
Still, Stuyvesant is a hard place for a B student. Most elective and AP courses require a minimum GPA to qualify, though each student has an opportunity to take at least one AP in his or her best subject. Students who fall behind on the three to five hours of homework each night admit that its hard to catch up, especially when juggling the typically heavy load of extracurriculars. There are tutoring opportunities available and teachers who are generous with their time outside of class, but it can be hard for struggling students to get the attention they need. The school works best for kids who are self-starters, self-confident and not afraid to seek out help from adults and other students.
Some classes are taught as seminars, with desks arranged in a circle and plenty of class discussion. But most are traditional, with desks in rows and the teacher at the front doing most of the talking. Science labs are shared by multiple teachers of the same subject, so teachers have no flexibility to divert from the scripted lab notebooks that students fill out like worksheets. This allows for little scientific inquiry by the students, except the 50 or so who qualify to conduct new research with professionals or college faculty as part of the Intel competition each year. English and social studies offer much greater flexibility for teachers and students to pursue their own interests while still covering core themes and skills.
There are five bands, a jazz combo, a symphony orchestra, many theatrical productions and a strong debate team. There are dozens of sports offered, including rollerblading, cricket, coed wrestling and kickboxing. After-school clubs serve students interests ranging from Chinese chess to film appreciation.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: In recent years, the school has become more sensitive to students with special needs. At the time of our visit, there was one student who was visually impaired and a number with ADHD. Now we realize that kids who are very, very strong academically may have learning differences and it is our job to support them, said longtime parent coordinator and now guidance counselor Harvey Blumm. The administration has assigned a guidance counselor to focus on special education, and a psychologist and a social worker are available for counseling.
COLLEGE ADMISSIONS: The school has 12 full-time guidance counselors and three full-time college counselors. Top students are accepted by the Ivy League as well as by highly competitive universities such as the University of Chicago and small liberal arts colleges such as Swarthmore, Haverford, Kenyon and Macalester.
ADMISSIONS: Students are selected according to their score on the SHSAT (specialized high school admissions test). The school offers open houses for prospective students and their parents in the fall. Check the Stuyvesant website for the dates or for a virtual tour. (Nicole Mader, December 2014)
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Programs and 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 guidance counselor in the Fall to register for the SHSAT.
Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Chinese, AP Comparative Government and Politics, AP Computer Science, AP Economics, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP European History, AP French, AP Human Geography, AP Italian, AP Japanese, AP Latin, AP Music Theory, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Spanish, AP Statistics
Boys PSAL teams
Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Football, Gymnastics, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams
Cricket, Golf, Stunt