By Stephen Stirling
Three Queens high schools were listed among the top 100 high schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report last week, giving the borough one-third of the city schools to appear on the list.
The Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, Townsend Harris High School in Flushing and the Baccalaureate School of Global Education in Astoria each appeared on the list, which is put out annually and based chiefly on Advanced Placement test scores.
Queens High School for the Sciences in Jamaica placed 48th on the list, which Principal Jie Zhang called an achievement for the small school.
“We’re very happy to find out that in that capacity that we can compete with the nation’s best,” Zhang said. “It’s a verification that we’re doing the right things.”
The school, which opened in 2002, is one of 23 public schools in the city to be associated with a CUNY college and one of just eight schools in the city to specialize in the sciences. Zhang credits her school’s success to small class sizes, where students are able to get lots of one-on-one time with members of the faculty, particularly if they are struggling.
“If something happens to one student, the teachers know that student and their situation,” Zhang said. “There’s never a situation where we have a problem and I have to say, ‘What’s this student’s story?’ That’s very important.”
Townsend Harris in Flushing, which has long been heralded as one of the best high schools in the city, appeared at the 71st spot on the list.
Assistant Principal Ellen Fee said that though the faculty at Townsend Harris provides the guidance to succeed, ultimately the students deserve a lot of the credit.
“The students who come to Townsend Harris are top-notch,” Fee said. “We have high academic expectations, but they also come with high expectations of themselves. We’re always shooting for excellency and making sure that we’re moving forward into the 21st century.”
Despite the success, Zhang said she does not plan to let the accolade go to her head.
“I’m not saying OK, we can sit back now. I still think there’s a lot of work to be done,” she said. “It’s not like because of this we can sit back and say, ‘Oh, now our kids are going to go to the Ivy Leagues.’ We’re very happy, but we’re also trying to stay cool about it.”
The Baccalaureate School of Global Education, which placed highest among Queens schools at 38, could not be reached for comment by press time.
Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, the High School of American Studies at Lehman College in the Bronx, the Dual Language and Asian Studies High School in Manhattan, the Staten Island Technical High School, the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School also appeared on the list.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.