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Top of Their Class
Sure, you've heard of Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, but they're only two of the BEST HIGH SCHOOLS IN NEW YORK. As the fall application deadline approaches, Clara Hemphill picks more top high schools you can't afford to miss.
Popular science: Students in the DaVinci program at Benjamin Cardozo High School. (Photo by Magdalena Caris)
It's easy (and tempting too, if you're a mayoral candidate) to talk about what's wrong with New York's public schools. What you hear a lot less about is what's right. Especially when it comes to high schools. Everyone knows about the crown jewels of our sprawling and uneven system — Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, LaGuardia — but too many parents haven't heard of the newer success stories like the Goldstein High School for the Sciences in Brooklyn, the Young Women's Leadership School in Spanish Harlem, or the Lab School for Collaborative Studies in Chelsea. And because students can apply to high schools all over the city, it's important to check out what's available outside your home district.

With the November 15 deadline to apply for next year rapidly approaching, we asked Clara Hemphill, author of New York City's Best Public High Schools: A Parents' Guide (just published by Teachers College Press), to look past Stuyvesant and its three well-known rivals, and find us the other best high schools in the city.

  Over the past several years, Hemphill and her colleagues at the nonprofit Advocates for Children in Manhattan have visited scores of public high schools and interviewed hundreds of students, teachers, and parents. What they found was encouraging: Through skillful leadership and energetic fund-raising, certain schools have managed to mitigate the endemic woes of so many other city schools — peeling paint, antique facilities, oversize classes, overwhelmed teachers — to offer children real opportunities to excel. Most are small and experimental in their approach to learning; some are only a few years old. What they have in common is a group of passionate educators, diverse students, and engaged parents. What follows, then, are 19 of the best and most promising high schools in the system.

Best Public High Schools
The Admissions Maze
The freedom to choose any school in the city comes at a cost. The byzantine application process can be amazingly off-putting. There is one application for all schools, due by November 15 (a week later than usual because of the World Trade Center attack), but each school has a different follow-up procedure. Therefore, the most important decision a student can make is which school he or she puts as first choice. For more information about the process, more details about these schools, and descriptions of 24 other high-performing schools, consult Hemphill's book. For applications and information about this year's annual high-school fair, which has been rescheduled for October 27 and 28, visit or call the Office of High School Admissions, 22 East 28th Street, ninth floor (917-256-4300) and check the Board of Education's online school directory at www.nycenet.edu/hs_directory.
  • Baruch College Campus High School
  • Beacon School
  • New York City Lab School for Collaborative Studies
  • The New York City Museum School
  • School of the Future
  • Young Women's Leadership School

  • brooklyn
  • Edward R. Murrow High School
  • The Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences
  • Midwood High School
  • High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology

  • Benjamin Cardozo High School
  • Townsend Harris High School

  • From the October 22, 2001 issue of New York Magazine.
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