|Pairs of kids are sprawled on the
floors of the classroom and hall, reading to one another from the Epic of
Gilgamesh as part of their study of ancient history. This relaxed atmosphere,
combined with hard work on classical texts, is typical of Baruch College
Campus High School, a new school that has become one of the most popular
in Manhattan even though it only graduated its first class in 2001.
Baruch is located on the tenth floor of a modern building on the campus
of Baruch College, part of the City University of New York. (Students
may take college classes too.) "The assignments we give are progressive,
but the curriculum is traditional," says principal Jill Myers, who founded
the school in 1997 with a group of teachers.
The school's strength has been in the humanities kids read Greek
classics such as Antigone and The Odyssey, Shakespeare's
comedies, and Dante's Inferno as well as modern novels and non-Western
works of literature from Africa and Asia and writing is emphasized.
But imaginative new chemistry and physics teachers promise to bolster
the science departments. The school has embraced District 2's math curriculum,
called arise, in which students must explain in writing how they reached
their mathematical conclusions and solve what are called "real world"
problems. (For example, they might use algebra to understand how codes
were cracked during World War II.)
How hard is it to get in? As many as 2,000 kids apply for 100
spots, so children must list it as a first choice on the application.
Preference is given to students living in District 2 or attending District
2 middle schools.
Downsides: Sharing space with the college can be inconvenient.
The high-school offices are on the fifteenth floor, five floors away from
the classrooms. The college uses the classrooms at night, so high-school
teachers must lock up their supplies each day.
Guidance and college counseling: There are two guidance counselors
and a part-time college adviser an unusually advantageous ratio.
Each student is assigned the same adviser for four years. Students meet
with their advisers in groups of twenty every day for half an hour and
write them weekly letters. The adviser is the main contact for parents.