The public school system is stuck in neutral with threats of teachers and administrator work stoppages, shortage of educators wanting to go to the classroom, and chaotic messaging about when public school children should return.
“Enrollment is up and we have a blended learning plan where students come to school a few days a week and remain home, piping into our classrooms remotely,” said Nick Melito, president of Monsignor McClancy High School in East Elmhurst. “Parents see that we have a learning environment that is about communication and transparency.”
Last month, a student at McClancy tested positive for coronavirus. We called the school to get information on how it was handled.
“We immediately had that entire cohort go home and have their schooling in quarantine until their expected return the second week of October,” Melito explained. “Students in the cohort that was not in school the day the student was confirmed were able to come to the building. All students and teachers are tested daily, and because we handled it with the transparency parents and students were safe and informed.”
Being nimble and attentive sets our schools apart from other choices in education.
Through a set of standards and criteria each school was willing to share, we have chosen those top high schools for you to explore. After a series of discussions with teachers, administrators, parents and students, we have assembled the information you need to focus on the right type of education for your student.
Holy Cross High School, which boasts an average SAT score of 1260, and St. Vincent Ferrer, where the student-to-faculty ratio is lower than most, are examples of how private, faith-based schools differ from public high schools.
Dominican Academy, an all-girls school in Manhattan, offers AP Italian Language, and during the open house at Archbishop Molloy in Briarwood you will hear about graduates attending Yale, Cornell, Fordham and NYU.
High achievement, special attention and challenging curriculum is normal for these schools.
We continue to see a trend in a high-school students transferring from public schools to the top schools we profile here. Public school’s COVID handling aside, parents are looking for their student to get organized attention in academics and extracurricular activities.
We suggest you think about a better, more personalized education at one of the private high schools based on the extensive information we compiled over a decade of coverage, questioning and investigation.
Learn from this guide and explore what these high schools have to offer in the way of helping their students get into top colleges across the nation. Advanced placement classes, after-school clubs and organized athletics are just part of everyday life in these schools.
Mentoring, college coordinators and peer-to-peer counselors are routine. Faith and moral character are paramount to the experience at these schools, so if that’s not for you then just stop here and go to the entertainment section.
But we find the schools are culturally and religiously diverse. After doing the research, we can assure parents that our Top High Schools are worth the investment in your child. If you want specialized attention, public schools just won’t cut it.
Visit a school's website, and you will see that there might be as many as eight sports teams in action on a given day, and there seems to be something for the student body to do every weekend.
Some schools offer niche programs which are consistent with their brand. There is no shortage of high school teachers and program coordinators at these schools who passionately work to get their students involved with activities and then help them get to their college of choice.
We continually tell you about Astoria’s St. John’s Prep, where they build on their Black Box Theatre program, which has already inspired many students to go into the arts as a lifestyle.
Archbishop Molloy continues to offer a video broadcast club. Msgr. McClancy offers scholarship to students with a talent and interest in the performing arts.
Getting their students involved in the community outside the school walls is a hallmark. This year has been tough, but we are sure they will be right back when the pandemic ends.
Martin Luther School in Maspeth is increasingly emphasizing digital literacy, partnering with Apple to put their students ahead of the curve. Each student receives a new iPad and uses them in a broad range of classroom learning situations.
Robotics and technology foundations headline the course load for 10th, 11th and 12th grade at Cathedral in Manhattan, while entrepreneurship and business law continue to be popular according to students there.
Another overwhelming attraction to an education at our top schools is the culture and connection that exists after graduation. “Once a Stanner, Always a Stanner” is the motto at Archbishop Molloy. Monsignro McClancy is holding a Rockaway Alumni Reunion at Jameson’s on October 15.
It’s the time of year for high schools to host open houses for prospective students. So clear your schedules to visit these schools or take a video tour. Parents should look check this section to see how individual schools are proceeding.
You will not be disappointed in the friendship, mentorship and passion you will witness when taking a tour. If a school does have in-person tours, take advantage and see how they handle social distancing. That will also tell you a great deal about how they handle all sorts of issues.
Talking to teachers and current students is a must if you go. Even if your child is in sixth or seventh grade, we suggest you go online and check out the tours.
Even though these school have had double-digit increases in enrollment, we see that most have met - and even exceeded – the necessary measures to provide an environment you want for your high-school student.
How We Chose the Schools
We sent questionnaires to dozens of private high schools in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan for our 2020 issue. In order to make the cut, 90 percent of the student body must go to college, school must answer 90 percent of our probing questions, and boast a full roster of extracurricular activities.
We speak to parents, students, alumni, teachers and administrators. We are able to obtain interesting information that might not typically be shared with the outside world. The questions we ask are intended to compare the academic, spiritual and social environment of each school.
Schools shared scholarship opportunities for eighth graders, and we suggest parents speak to admissions directors about those programs. Have your student prepared for an interview, as scholarships are not given haphazardly.
Scholarship money graduating seniors were offered by colleges is crucial in our evaluations. Most bragged about the average SAT scores of their students.
Some schools wouldn’t share enough information for us to make a determination on quality of curriculum, program and student body, so they were not included on our list. But we’ve been on this beat for a decade-and-a-half now, so the schools know why we are calling each fall.
Public high schools do not share information with us. Many are now small, and small gives your child a shot at making it out of there in one piece. Themed public high schools have been getting good marks from parents, but it seems many need some kind of a connection to get in. If they would give us credible information, we could evaluate them.
From where we sit, we have determined that it’s hit or miss with those schools. There is very little consistency. At our top schools, a larger percentage of students who score in the middle of the class in academics tend to get accepted and get scholarship money when its time for college.
The trend in education is that high-achieving eighth-graders who might have attended one of the city's specialized high schools in the past are now opting for a top private high school, often receiving some kind of academic scholarship.
The reason is obvious when you see what these private schools are doing to compete for the top-notch students. They each have their own way of thinking outside the box to motivate their students for four years, but they have a few things in common we should point out.
They work fairly hard at getting all their students into top colleges, and they treat every student like they are important. At The Mary Louis Academy, an all-girls school in Jamaica Estates, the conversation about college begins in the ninth grade.
Their College Placement Program works on matching students to colleges that match their passions, interests, and unique skills.
St. John’s Prep's Baccalaureate Program, in partnership with St. John’s University, enables students to complete high school and college in seven years.
Our Top High Schools have the flexibility to reach out to institutions of higher education and learning facilities to develop partnerships. They include college credit courses and the opportunity for seniors to visit the college campus for classes to get a feel for the next level.
Mary Louis Academy has a Pre-Med track. Students take part in summer internships at hospitals like Lenox Hill and New York Presbyterian.
Most of our schools on this list have dynamic programs, and in most cases graduates from these high schools have a real leg-up because they are entering college with a semester or more worth of college credit, bringing the cost of college down considerably.
Call a school on our list and ask about college interaction programs. Ask to talk to one of the seniors involved.
Take the Extra Step
If price is keeping you from considering one of these schools, we find that these schools typically want your child if your child wants them. Contacting the financial aid department at one of the schools does not raise a red flag about your child. In fact it helps.
These schools want students who have a passion for their school, so they make an effort to figure out how to get you financial aid. You will have to pay something, but if your student shows that he or she is willing to work and can contribute something positive to the school community, they will get you in.
After exploring the options in this special issue, attend open houses over the next few weeks and talk to an admissions director. If they find your child is likely to succeed, you might qualify for scholarships or aid.