There’s a new school near the top of the list of America’s best high schools, and it’s located right here in Queens.
In its annual rankings, U.S. News and World Report selected Newcomers High School in Long Island City as the sixth best high school in the country, which represented the first-time the all-immigrant school has appeared on the list.
“It was a tremendous celebration; it was like a carnival here,” said Orlando Sarmiento, who is in his first year as principal of Newcomers High School. Sarmiento started as a teacher during the school’s first year in 1995 and moved up to an assistant principal and then principal this year.
“The school really is the gateway for students to the U.S.,” Sarmiento said.
Many of the students at the school, which currently has 957 students in grades 9 through 12, expressed great pride in the recognition as a top high school.
“We know how much effort we put in and then finally it is being recognized so we all are really proud,” said Susandi Htut, 18, a senior who came to the U.S. from Burma three years ago.
Students at the school hail from 30 different countries with 51 percent of the students Latino, according Sarmiento.
Senior Alfredo Duque, 17, who came to the U.S. from Mexico in 2007, said that when he started out at the school three years ago, he was glad to see some friendly faces of other Latino students, who he said helped make the transition to a new school easier.
“That’s what we try to do now that we’re seniors,” Duque said. “We try to be friends with the freshmen and the sophomores. We try to help them.”
“The environment is so friendly that you don’t even want to go home when school is over,” added Regina Daraud, 18.
In addition, many of the students praised the work of their teachers and school staff for helping students adjust to their new surroundings.
“They understand that you are a new student and you need help, and if you are having trouble with any classes they tell you to come to afterschool programs or go to a tutoring program,” said senior Sameera Uddin.
U.S. News and World Report develops the rankings on a three-step process including how schools are educating all of their students, then their minority and disadvantaged students, and finally their college-bound students based on student scores on statewide tests, Advanced Placement tests, and International Baccalaureate tests.
Since Newcomers High School was ranked at the top of the list, many media outlets throughout the city have been stopping by the school to talk students. While many students may look at this opportunity for their 15 minutes of fame, students at Newcomers seem to be taking a different approach.
“Every time I get interviewed I try to emphasize something good about my school,” said Haris Misut, 17, who came to the country from Bosnia. “We want to show that we are equals. We have the same blood; we have the same skin; we don’t want to be treated differently than other people.”