Academy of American Studies

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Academy of American Studies
Established 1996
Type Selective public high school
Principal William Bassell
Students 700
Grades 9–12
Location 28-01 41st Avenue,
Long Island City, NY, United States
Coordinates 40°45′05″N 73°56′13″W / 40.7515°N 73.9370°W / 40.7515; -73.9370Coordinates: 40°45′05″N 73°56′13″W / 40.7515°N 73.9370°W / 40.7515; -73.9370
Colors Red, White, and Blue
Mascot Eagles
Yearbook "Americana"
Newspaper "Academy Gazette"

The Academy of American Studies is a selective public high school in Long Island City, Queens, New York, which was founded in 1996 by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. With roughly 700 students,[1] it is one of the smallest high schools in New York City. Located on the western end of Queens (just east of Manhattan), the school normally attracts students from either of these two boroughs. The Academy is not to be confused with the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, a specialized high school in the Bronx. Academy of American Studies is not a specialized high school, and thus does not require students to take the SHSAT for admission.

History and Background[edit]

The Academy of American Studies was developed by way of a collaborative effort between the Gilder Lehrman Institute and the Queens High School superintendent. They believed that preparing students by teaching them about the past would lead to inevitable success. This school is the first history school in the United States, which is why it is called the Flagship School of the Gilder Lehrman Institute. The first principal of the Academy of American Studies was Mr. Michael Serber, who currently works for the Gilder Lehrman Institute. The second and recent principal, Ms. Ellen Sherman, used to go to Long Island City High School when it was in that very building, so one can see how history really is a huge part of this school's role as a college prep school. Nine years since its opening, the school has grown into a "community". Now with a campus (a "south building" and a "north building"; the latter is shared with Newcomers High School), this preparatory school has a "college feel" like it never has before. Due to the academy's success, the Institute has founded 44 other schools across the nation and the Academy is the model for all of those schools.

In the year 2005, as a result of a collaborative effort between the administration, parents, and some students, the Academy of American Studies boosted security by adding crosswalks to the street where students are in most danger.

On October 12, 2006, the Academy of American Studies (Academy/the Academy) gained recognition from throughout New York City as it celebrated its tenth anniversary and a grand opening of a student-run history research center, containing many primary sources donated by the Gilder Lehrman Institute. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg also attended the Academy's ceremony to publicly announce that October 12th would be The GIlder Lehrman Institute of American History Day in the City of New York.

Starting on the 2012-2013 school year, due to the initiative of the new principal, William Bassell, many improvements were implemented into the Academy. The choice of classes which students can take became much greater, as AP Economics, AP Human Geography, Statistics, and several more classes were added. A new library and science labs was provided to the students; it is shared with the Newcomers High School.

The Academy of American Studies (via Gilder Lehrman) offers summer 1-3 summer scholarships to outstanding freshman each year. In order to be eligible to compete for this scholarship, freshman must rank in the top 10% of their class, as of the end of their December report card. After being notified of such, they must write an essay, and if their essay makes "the cut", they can go on to the interview round. From the interview, 1-3 stellar students are selected, and get to go to Cambridge University in England. The school also offers 1-2 summer scholarships to juniors each year. In order to be eligible, each junior must write an essay about why s/he would benefit from a trip to China, and must then be interviewed.

Trips are key parts of the educational process at the school. All freshmen are invited to Philadelphia in the fall and Boston in the spring. Sophomores go to historic lower Manhattan in the fall and spend an overnight in Gettysburg in the spring. Juniors take a college tour in the fall and visit Plymouth with a whale watching cruise in the spring. The seniors used to spend 3 days & 2 nights in Washington, D.C. and in the fall and have a self-chosen senior trip in the spring but to due rising prices seniors receive one trip which is 4 days and 3 nights to DC for 400 dollars. The academic trips are offered at a discount due to our relationship with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.


Students take four years of history (including senior thesis & economics senior year). They also take Global History for 2 years. During their sophomore year, AP European History can be taken instead of the Global 2 class.

Math at the school ends at Pre Calculus /AP Calculus AB, but there is also a Statistics course offered, which is a college-level class. An average student, however, will end with at least Algebra 2 & Trigonometry in their senior year. Students who pass the Integrated Algebra or Algebra I Regents at the end of the 8th grade are placed in Geometry instead of Algebra in their freshmen year. These students are then invited to take either Pre Calculus or AP Calculus their senior year. Students need not take Pre Calculus in order to take AP Calculus; however, it is recommended. Usually, one can easily go into AP Calculus without taking the other, granted the grades are high enough.

English at the school ends with a Conflict in Literature course senior year, in which students read rather controversial books (Brave New World, Frankenstein). AP English Literature students are at a slightly faster pace, but usually learn many of the same things as their classmates. Students that take the AP English Language course explore the different aspects of the English language and the uses of it in depth.

The sciences students have to choose from are: Living Environment/Biology, Earth Science, AP Biology, AP Environmental Science, Chemistry.

Languages end at the AP level. With intensive curricula in both French and Spanish, it is not at all uncommon that students are invited to AP Spanish Literature immediately after completing the regents course. An AP Spanish Language course is offered, which is usually taken instead of the Spanish III class.

AP courses are offered in many subjects, including: AP Calculus, AP Biology, AP Environmental Science, AP US History, AP European History, AP Macroeconomics, AP Human Geography, AP English Literature, AP English Language, AP Spanish Language, AP Spanish Literature, and AP Law & Government (seniors only).

The school also offers a wide range of art classes, which include Playwriting/Acting, Studio Art, Digital Media, Painting, Art History and an Opera seminar.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Aside from the rigorous academic agenda, the Academy is home to seven PSAL sports teams, several ethnic and interest clubs, the Academy Gazette (along with other publications), a Digital Design class, a Technology Team, Eagles in the Morning Radio Show and an active Student Government.

Student Government

The Student Government is the center of planning all events and activities, as well as providing a voice for the student population in making progressive changes to the "culture and climate" of the school environment. Since the opening of the school, the members of Student Government ran as unified Congressional body, with no elections or hierarchy. Selection was based upon a written essay and occasional interview judged by the Coordinator of Student Activities (the faculty position). In 2005, the Student Government decided on a major structural change establishing a school-wide elected Executive Board and other appointed cabinet positions for leading different committees (similar to US Government). Uniquely, this Executive Board consisted of two Co-Presidents, a Treasurer, and Secretary. In 2008, the Student Government Organization voted on an amendment to modify the executive board. It was decided that there would be one elected President and an elected Vice-President. The positions of Committee chairs were instituted in order to simplify the internal organization of events in the school. The treasurer, secretary and Class officers remained intact.

Planning and running school events and activities are this organization's chief duties. They annually plan two Talent Shows and two Pep Rallies along with several spirit days and other fun-unique events. For policy changes, four Student Government Representatives sit on the Principal's Council which is a monthly meeting with the Principal to discuss current issues. Also, two Representatives sit on a city-council board for educational policy and two Representatives sit on a PTA council. Annually, several members of the Academy Student Government go on a three day trip to represent city high schools at the New York State Leadership Conference. Member from all parts of the state interact to share their ideas and to bring back new ones to their respective high schools.

Eagles in the Morning

Eagles in the Morning is the Academy "Radio Show" that takes place in both campuses.

The Academy Gazette

Funded by the Gilder Lehrman Institute, The Academy Gazette is the school newspaper which is published on a seasonal basis. Students with an interest in journalism and photography are encouraged to write for the newspaper which features special interest sections as well as a sports and editorial section.

PSAL Sports

The Academy features seven sports teams part of the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL).

- Boys Baseball Varsity Eagles

- Boys Basketball Varsity Eagles

- Boys Varsity Bowling Eagles (Co-ed) (Girls can join): Made first playoff (2008). also 09-10 and 10-11

- Boys Volleyball Varsity Eagles: city championship (2012).

- Girls Basketball Varsity Lady Eagles: PSAL Queens B Division winners 2007, 2008. PSAL B Champions 2008 (undefeated season 31-0). 1st New York State Federation Championship appearance 2008.

- Girls Softball Varsity Lady Eagles

- Girls Volleyball Varsity Lady Eagles: appeared in city championship (2001); won 2007 PSAL Division title.

- Girls Football Varsity Lady Eagles

Ethic and Interest Clubs

Debate Team, Amnesty International, Literary Magazine, Academy Gazette (school newspaper), Multicultural Club, National History Club, Improvisational Theatre Club, Model UN, Digital Design course that prepares students for digital publications, National Honor Society, SADD, Senior Committee, Step Team, Food Club, Dance Team, Environmental Concerns (ECO) club, and Pilates club. Through the National Hostory club, students are able to enter New York City's annual National History Day Competition. There is also a yearly musical ever since the year 2008 with the production of "You're a Good Man,Charlie Brown." In 2009, the musical was "Working."

Enrollment and Alumni[edit]

The Academy of American Studies consists 700 students, who all applied using the normal NYC Public High School application. Students apply to either the screened program, the Ed Opt program, or both. In order to be eligible for the screened program, students must have fewer than 8 absences, must have grades of 90+ in humanities classes and 85+ in math and science. The Ed Opt program is selective, and anyone who ranks within the top 2% of the 7th grade test takers (98th percentile+) is automatically accepted. The Ed Opt program, however, must also accept the bottom 16% of applicants. Therefore, a student with a score of 1 on the exam has a better chance of getting in than a student with a 3 or a 4, since there are so many more of the latter applying. It is encouraged that students with test scores below the 98th percentile, but stellar grades, apply for the Intensive Academic Humanities program.

Students have gotten into and attended such schools as: American University, Amherst College, Bard College, Barnard College, Brandeis University, Bennington College, Binghamton University, Boston College, Boston University, Bowdoin College, University of New Hampshire, Babson College, Brown University, Carleton College, Clark University, Colgate University, Columbia University, Cornell University, CUNYs, CUNY Honors, Drexel University, Fashion Institute of Technology, Fordham University, Georgetown University, Gettysburg College George Washington University, Ithaca College, Muhlenberg College, Mount Holyoke College, Muhlenberg College, New York University, Pace University, Sarah Lawrence College, Smith College, Syracuse University, School of Visual Arts, SUNYs, Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, Vassar College and University of British Columbia.


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External links[edit]

Some of the information here was taken from:

Former location of the original Long Island High School.