Pre-K to post-grad: Midtown West goes back to school



New York wired for back-to-school

James Baldwin School

351 W. 18th Street Grades 9-12


By Christian Gollayan

Throughout the summer, New York schools’ electricians work on maintaining and installing new devices like smart boards. Now that school’s back supervisor electrician Charlie Lovejoy gets a “paper work day.” He spent Monday of the first full week of classes going around to schools to make sure that everything runs smoothly – not just devices, but all the electrical services in the facilities. He also collected data cards and time stamps to make sure all of his workers are paid. Lovejoy says the great part of his job is seeing all the work done over the summer finally come together once school starts.


Back-to-school begins later for some

The Montessori School at Flatiron

5 West 22nd Street


Montessori School

By M. Chadwick Shank

While the rest of the city’s school are abuzz with students, the Montessori School at Flatiron still has a couple weeks left of summer break. The school is still brimming with activity, though, as teachers hold workshop and planning lessons in anticipation of the arrival of toddler and primary-aged children.

The school follows the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori, an educator who believed that young children learned best when given independence and guidance versus the strict and structured traditional method of schooling.

The Montessori School at Flatiron is private and is not participating in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal pre-K education initiative. No seats were specifically held for children through program, which provides universal pre-K schooling, but scholarship aid was available for children demonstrating financial need, a school official said.


Smooth start for Chelsea Prep

P.S. 33, Chelsea Prep

281 Ninth Avenue

Grades pre-K-5


By Ana Mendez

Beth Hermelin, assistant principal of Chelsea Prep elementary school, stood on the sidewalk with an iced-coffee and a clipboard, smiling Monday morning, eagerly greeting students as they hopped off school buses.

Class starts at 8:20, which is ten minutes earlier than school began last year, but so far students haven’t complained. “It’s been a smooth transition,” she said.

A special education aide explained that some parents leave their children at school, and others choose to let their kids take the bus, but staff still meets them at the school entrance to wish them a good day and take pictures. Another aide said that some children have an easier time starting school than others, but over time they adjust. Some first-time parents looked more nervous than their kids, tears welling up in their eyes as they walked away.


Enthusiastic teachers, parents pave way for new middle school

City Knoll Middle School 525 West 44th Street

Sixth grade

City Knoll school

By Aarthi Manohar

At 8:30 a.m., dozens of sixth-grade boys and girls formed a line along the wall of P.S. 51 Elementary School in Midtown West. As their parents looked on from the sidewalk, a teacher walked from the front of the line to the back, asking students, “Are you ready to go in and learn today? Let’s make it a great day.”

Housed on the fifth floor of P.S. 51 Elementary School, City Knoll Middle School opened its doors to 85 sixth-graders for the first time last week. The school’s small, experimental sixth-grade program will run for a year and, if successful, will expand to accommodate students in grades 7 and 8. Parents of City Knoll students are hopeful about the program, believing that the school’s emphasis on parent involvement makes its success a likelihood.

“It’s new so we’re all kind of rolling with things,” said Darren Press, whose daughter attends City Knoll. “For something in the New York City Public School System, [it’s] exciting for a school to express that it is open to collaborating with parents.”


The next milestone: middle school

The Clinton School for Writers and Artists – MS

260 425 West 33rd Street, New York, NY 10001

6th – 8th Grades

middle school

By Justin A. Morton

The Clinton School for Writers and Artists in West Midtown was in full swing on Monday as students started their first week back to school.

Gabrielle Kahn-Chiossone, mother of 10-year-old Luca, said that her son was starting at the school as a sixth grader.  “We toured many schools in the city. We really liked this school because it was strong in the arts and writing,” she said. “Also, we liked the smaller classes.”

The school, which is adjacent to St. Michael Catholic Church, has 90 students in its sixth grade class, of which 12 are boys. The school also plans to add a high school next year. “He is happy that he can talk about his own special school,” Gabrielle said. “He feels the school is similar to his elementary school.”

Performing arts school fame continues

Professional Performing Arts School

P.S. 212 Midtown West School

328 West 48th Street

Performing Arts:

Grades 6-12

Professional performing arts school

By Celine Hacobian

The bus arrived at 8:42 a.m. on Monday at Professional Performing Arts School, which shares a building with P.S. 212. The school is known for graduating many singers and performers who end up being household named.

Elvin Nieves, the doorman at the Belvedere Hotel across the street, recalled that singer Alicia Keys graduated from the performing arts school. He said it is rumored that Madonna’s daughter currently attends the school, but he has never seen her. “I sometimes see black SUVs pull up, pick up and go,” he said. “Paparazzi hide behind these walls here trying to get pictures.”

But most children who came on campus weren’t looking for celebrities. Take Giselle Rodriguez’s son, who starts second grade this year. “He’s really just excited about starting school and meeting new friends; he’s not really thinking about the educational part,” she said.


Entering its fifth year, Business of Sports School thrives in shared space

Business of Sports School

439 West 49th Street

Grades 9-12

Business of Sport hs

By Alanna Weissman

Business of Sports students, some clad in graphic t-shirts and baseball caps, started school on Thursday, and many of them said they were happy with their experience so far. “It’s good,” said one of the students. “It’s a good school.”

Business of Sports School opened in September 2009, and it has proven to be a popular option. According to its web site, the school received 1,436 applications for 115 seats in this year’s entering freshman class. Business of Sports shares its building with four other schools focusing on career and technical education, including three high schools — High School of Graphic Communication Arts, Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology, Stephen T. Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School — and Success Academy Charter School for grades K-2. The high school student population totals 1,431.

“We’re on different floors, so we don’t really interact with them much,” said one Urban Assembly student.


Back to school in Hell’s Kitchen

Success Academy

439 West 49th Street, Floor 2

Grades K-2


By Charmaine Nero

A line of children between the ages of five and eight, dressed in bright orange shirts, nestle closely by their parents as a teacher peers through a side entrance of the building on 49th Street, signaling them to come in.

The children at the Success Academy share their school with the High School of Graphic Communication Arts, Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management and Business of Sports School. Success Academy opened in 2013 and has a 59% Hispanic student body. The students at the Success Academy are picked through a lottery system, according to

Angela Salazar, a mother of a student at the school, says that having the opportunity to send her child to the school is “exciting.” Originally from the Dominican Republic she says, in a heavy accent, “I am excited to start school myself- — my son and me. I am grateful for this opportunity. It’s a great school.”

In the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, back-to-school is not only exciting for students and parents but business owners, as well. Hassen, the owner of Moal Grocery and Deli, Inc. on 10th Avenue between 50th Street and 51st Street, says that the beginning of the school season is “great because business picks up and you can make money.”


Students enter first full week of classes at Food and Finance High School

Food and Finance High School

525 West 50th Street

Grades: 9-12

Food & finance high

By Alexandra Levine

On September 8, students lined up to start class at Food and Finance High School, but not everyone had the same level of excitement about starting another year. The school’s program teaches students basic courses as well as preparing them for a future in the food industry.

Some students plan on becoming chefs or restaurateurs after school. Zalandra Garcia, 18, wearing her uniform of khakis and a collared, blue shirt with the school’s logo, said she has her heart set on Johnson & Wales University, for example. But many of her classmates plan on pursuing other areas. “Some would rather be in fashion, business or the Navy,” she said. They were placed at Food and Finance through a lottery, even though many students with a true passion for food don’t gain admission. Junior Nathalie Carrasco, 18, agrees. “Some students here want to be teachers or lawyers,” said Carrasco. “They should make it so the kids who want to do this get chosen first. I’m here and know others who really want to be, but they can’t get a spot.”


Local crossing guard plays important role in neighborhood morning commute

Sacred Heart of Jesus School

456 West 52nd Street

Pre-K through 8th


By Mallory Shelbourne

Lillian Martinez, 42, is a crossing guard at the corner of 52nd Street and 10th Avenue, between Sacred Heard Parochial and P.S. 111 Adolph S. Ochs. Martinez, who will be celebrating her 19th anniversary as a crossing guard this February, knows the area and its locals well. “I’ve watched people’s kids grow up, get married, and have kids,” she said.

Martinez was born in the neighborhood, right up the block from the corner where she helps children cross the street each day. She can recall what most of the new businesses and restaurants in the area were years ago.

In addition to her job as a crossing guard, Martinez works at the Police Athletic League, which runs an after-school program for students in the neighborhood. Martinez remains on the corner past 9 a.m. directing traffic to make sure the children attending the many area schools cross safely.


Back to school for a second chance

Independence High School

850 10th Avenue

Grades 10-12


By Lonna Dawson

Most of the students walking down W. 57th street are going to school. But amid the drove of bouncing backpacks, there is a group of bag-less young men gathered in front of the 56th Street Food Market, members of last spring’s graduating class at Independence High School.

Independence High is a transfer school designed for students who have dropped out of high school or are significantly behind in the credits they need to graduate. Transfer schools serve students who are “typically disengaged and have attendance and literacy challenges,”according to the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Multiple Pathways to Graduation.

According to Independence’s 2012-2013 Progress Report, the most recent report available, 33 percent of the students who graduated enrolled in a 2-year or 4-year college and none enrolled in a vocational program. In the same report, the school received a B rating in college and career readiness, an assessment category that gauges “how well students are prepared for life after high school.”

An NYPD patrol car approached the young men, and an officer said that someone had made a noise complaint. One of the men replied, “I understand, boss. I understand,” and rejoined his friends in front of the store.

Professional Children’s School welcomes young professionals on its 100th anniversary 

Professional Children’s School

132 West 60th Street

Grades 6-12


By Emilyn Teh

On its 100-year anniversary, Professional Children’s School opened its doors to approximately 200 students for a new semester. Parents of young professionals in the performing and visual arts, competitive sports and other fields kissed and hugged their children goodbye during drop-off.

Among them were proud mothers Tammy Ellis and Milla Green. “My daughter is a ballet dancer,” said Ellis, mother of ninth-grader Chloe Ellis. “I chose this school because they can accommodate her extensive training schedule while providing college preparatory classes.” Olivia Green, a friend of Chloe whom she met during summer ballet training, is entering tenth grade at the school. “She is very excited,” said her mother. “This is her first year here as we just moved from Alabama.”

The school’s notable alums include Yo-Yo Ma, Scarlett Johansson, Sarah Jessica Parker.


Parents complain of grueling high school acceptance process

The Beacon School

227 W 61st St

Grades 9-12


By Tal Trachtman Alroy

Parents who dropped off their children at The Beacon School on Monday expressed frustration over the city’s high school acceptance process, saying that competition to get into the city’s nine elite specialized high schools, which require standardized tests, was fierce.

Leslie Powell, whose daughter is a freshman at the school, explained that Beacon was her first choice among standard public schools. “There just aren’t a lot of great places for kids to go,” she said. Initially, Powell wanted her daughter to go to the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, a specialized high school that requires an audition or portfolio, but said that acceptance depended on many factors and that “the whole process is just really stressful.”

Commuting from the Bronx, Danny Castillo said Beacon was the only public school option for his daughter, a freshman, who had applied to numerous specialized schools. Carlos Martines, whose daughter is a senior, said, “If my child can’t get into a specialized school, than Beacon is a great option.”

Despite the frustration expressed by parents, returning students seemed eager to start school. Students hugged security guard Sorivette Cortijo as they ran up the blue stairwell at the entrance to the school.


Students cross boroughs to attend LaGuardia High

LaGuardia High School

100 Amsterdam Avenue

Grades 9-12


By Chancellor Agard

A mother from Queens watched her freshman daughter cross the street and wave as she entered the doors of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Arts and Performing Arts on Monday. Margarita Magpantay accompanied her daughter, who is interested in the visual arts, to school because it is far from their home. There are arts closer to them, but none with LaGuardia’s reputation.“It is the best school,” said Magpantay. “It’s not just about the arts. It’s also about the academics.”

Knowing the school’s strict reputation, she also wanted to make sure her daughter arrived on time. “It’s very organised,” Magpantay said. “They make sure students are in the school before the bell rings.”


No art at High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry

High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry

122 Amsterdam Ave.

Grades 9-12


By Rachel Raudenbush

Just over half of students at the High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry say they are not offered art classes, according to an annual report for the 2012-2013 year.

Fifty-one percent of students say they are not offered visual art classes, with that number increasing for courses in theater, music and dance. Two students entering their sophomore year this fall confirmed that they are not offered art classes. “At first I was upset because I thought it was an art school,” one of them said. Both expressed an initial disappointment, but were quick to say that they enjoy their school despite the lack of art education.

The school curriculum is based on the philosophy of Maxine Greene, Philosopher-in-Residence at Lincoln Center Education and on LCE Capacities for Imaginative Learning, the Center’s framework for student study. It is one of six schools housed in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Campus at the southwest corner of 66th Street and Amsterdam Ave.