In New York City in the early to mid-1900's large high schools were built to accommodate the increasing numbers of students attending high school, many of whom would be the first in their families to graduate from a secondary institution. The size of these facilities, fitted with modern laboratories and equipment, was seen as an efficient way of allowing the greatest number of students the benefit of the current knowledge available in academic disciplines and in vocational subject areas. While many students benefited, others were lost in the anonymity of these school settings.

In the second half of the 20th century, schools have modified this "efficient" environment to better meet the need of youngsters, and to personalize the total education experience . The special needs of youngsters have been met through guidance and support services available to all students. Counselors, in addition to providing personal and group guidance, may make guidance reversals to community-based organizations (on the school-site or off-site), with the involvement of parents and other adults in the students life. Health issues are being more broadly addressed. Some students receive special education services in small, self-contained classes. Specific bilingual career and academic programs and English as a Second Language programs are implemented for students with limited English proficiency.

House or institutes-smaller units within the high school comprised of groups of youngsters who may be affiliated with a career house or a theme house or may just be housed randomly- have been established. Students identify with their house and with the counselors, teachers and other staff who also are committed to the particular house. Within the houses, house management and case conferencing are important way for staff to communicate to ensure that individual students receive the guidance and instructional support they need in order to be successful. Houses provide a mechanism for large high schools to function as smaller and more personal places. In some high schools, instructional approaches used in their houses are being revised to promote greater collaboration between teachers, and among students to achieve learning objectives.

The more than forty high schools that have opened their doors for the first timer since September 1993, subscribe to a "smaller is better" philosophy and an instructional approach that includes interdisciplinary teaching and emphasizes integrated, project-centered, collaborative learning. Their thrust is to involve families in the life of the school and all youngsters in community service with the understanding that learning is an on-going, lifelong process. Many of these schools have a primary focus on youngsters in the community where they are physically located. It is anticipated that, at maximum, these schools will house 500 to 700 students.

New York City, with over 160 high schools and more than a quarter of a million students attending high school, offers programs and schools to meet a variety of interests, skills, needs and general preferences. It is important to note that the neighborhood high school or "zoned" high school provides many of the features of special schools, with its own career programs, special services and extracurricular activities, and has the added advantage of being closer to home. The neighborhood high school is an important part of student choice.


You and every student who lives in your area may attend the zoned high school. Most zoned high schools offer special programs to which you may apply if you live in the zone. You may also participate in the other programs offered in your zoned by letting your counselor know of your interest.


You must apply to these schools and be accepted in order to attend. Some schools require that you live in a certain borough. Others will accept students from all five boroughs. There are over fifty total educational option high schools including the new, small high schools that recently opened or are in the process of opening.


These schools offer programs that prepare students for jobs in a vocational or technical area, or for college. If you live in the five boroughs you may apply.

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