Briarcliff High School

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Briarcliff High School
School shield
444 Pleasantville Road
Briarcliff Manor, New York, 10510
United States
Coordinates 41°08′03″N 73°48′45″W / 41.13417°N 73.81250°W / 41.13417; -73.81250Coordinates: 41°08′03″N 73°48′45″W / 41.13417°N 73.81250°W / 41.13417; -73.81250
Type Comprehensive public high school
Motto Community  • Service  • Excellence  • Fulfillment
Established 1928[1]
School district Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District
CEEB Code 330505
NCES School ID 360534000268[2]
Principal Deborah French
Vice principal Daniel Murphy
Faculty 50.31 (on full-time equivalent (FTE) basis) (as of 2010–2011)[2]
Grades 912
Gender Coeducational
Enrollment 587[3] (2013–14)
Student to teacher ratio 10:1[4]
Language English
Campus size 43 acres[5]
Campus type Suburban[5]
  Blue and orange
Athletics conference Section 1 (NYSPHSAA)
Mascot Bear
Team name Briarcliff Bears
Rival Pleasantville High School
Accreditations New York State Board of Regents, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools[6]
Newspaper The Briarcliff Bulletin
Yearbook Bruin
Tuition $13,800[7][a]
Communities served Briarcliff Manor

Briarcliff High School (BHS) is a public secondary school in Briarcliff Manor, New York, that serves students in grades 912. It is the only high school in the Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District and shares its campus with Briarcliff Middle School. As of 2014, the principal is Debora French and the assistant principal is Daniel Murphy.[8]

Briarcliff is noted for outstanding student achievement, testing scores and accomplishments, including a highly regarded science research program, world language and performing arts programs, University in the High School and Advanced Placement courses, and graduation and college attendance rates.[9] The school has a 10:1 student–teacher ratio, and 100 percent of students have proficiency in mathematics and English.[4]

The student body primarily consists of incoming graduates of Briarcliff Middle School. Additionally, students graduating from Pocantico Hills Central School have the option to attend high schools either at Briarcliff High School, Pleasantville High School, or Sleepy Hollow High School.[7] The majority, 75 percent in 2013, attend Briarcliff High School.[10] Students from Pocantico Hills as well as other districts pay a tuition fee to attend. In 2014, Newsweek ranked the high school 17th-best in the country.[11] The school was founded in 1928 at the Grade School building adjacent to Law Memorial Park. In 1971, the school moved to its current facility on the east border of the village.


Two-floor brick building façade, entranceway, and round theater
High school façade, entranceway, and theater
A Spanish Renaissance-style school building
Briarcliff Grade School ca. 1930
Aerial view of a school campus
Aerial view of Briarcliff High School ca. 1980

Briarcliff Manor had served students up to the ninth grade from 1865 until 1918. Before 1918, Briarcliff students who wanted to proceed to high school would attend the nearby Ossining High School. At that point, Briarcliff introduced an advanced curriculum for high school students. In 1923, four students were the first in a Briarcliff school to receive high school diplomas. In 1928, with the income of more high school students, an extension was built to the Spanish Renaissance-style Grade School for use as Briarcliff High School. The building was located adjacent to the Walter W. Law Memorial Park. The enlarged school accepted students from Croton, Hawthorne, North White Plains, Valhalla, and as far as Granite Springs.[5]

The high school newspaper, The Briarcliff Bulletin, was founded in 1948.[12] As Briarcliff's student population expanded, the need for more school facilities became apparent. In 1950, students from kindergarten to fifth grade were moved to the new Todd Elementary School. In spite of the newly empty space in the Grade School building, the high school population's continued growth necessitated the construction of a new structure. Efforts were delayed until the 1960s, when the village government made plans to purchase 55 acres (22 ha) of the Choate estate. Pace University meanwhile purchased the entire estate, and it remains as its Pleasantville campus. The Briarcliff Manor Board of Education took the matter to court and succeeded, and Pace sold 35 acres (14 ha) to the village, which bought eight further acres.[5]

The site was completed in 1968, and the current high school building opened in 1971. In the 1980s, as school enrollment declined and costs increased, the Grade School building was leased to Pace University and the remaining students (grades six through eight) occupied a portion of the new High School building. In 1988, a plan for a larger village and school meeting and performance area was initiated. The new auditorium was completed in 1998.[5] After a bond vote in 2001, the current Briarcliff Middle School was constructed in the early 2000s adjoining the high school.[13]

In the summer and fall of 2011, several renovations took place, affecting primarily the high school on the property. All front-facing windows of the high school were replaced with energy-efficient windows, and a permanent-storage building was constructed on the northeast side to store auditorium and maintenance supplies. As well, many of the computers in the school were replaced with thin client computers.[14] In 2013, the school's cardiovascular and weight lifting center was improved with more machines and equipment, increased space, new flat screen televisions, and more.[15] In 2013 and 2014, the school's fields on the property were remediated due to the use of contaminated fill.[16] The football field is complete with artificial turf, as well as the track and artificial turf baseball field; the artificial turf hockey field is to be completed by Labor Day. The lower soccer field will be reconstructed after the fall 2014 soccer season. Work on the softball field was finished in fall 2013. A security plan is to be submitted to the New York State Education Department; it includes plans to upgrade the main entrance doors and construct vestibules and greeter stations.[17]


As of 2014, the school has 587 students, including 81 from the Pocantico Hills school district, comprising 13.8 percent of the student body. Students in the graduating class of 2013 had a 100 percent graduation rate and a 99 percent college placement rate. 99 percent of those students graduated with a Regents diploma, 50 percent with Advanced Designation with Honors, 21 percent with Advanced Designation, and 3 percent Regents with Honors. 24 percent graduated with a standard Regents diploma and 1 percent with a local diploma.[3]

Enrollment in Briarcliff High School since 1952
Year 1952–1953 2000–2001 2001–2002 2002–2003 2003–2004 2004–2005 2005–2006 2006–2007 2007–2008 2008–2009 2009–2010 2010–2011 2011–2012 2012–2013 2013–2014
Enrollment 224 448 489 534 560 601 679 657 N/A 654 N/A 591 606 552 587
1952–1953[18]  • 2000 to 2006[19]  • 2006–2007[20]  • 2008–2009[21]  • 2010 to 2014[3]


An auditorium and school buildings
The Dr. Frances G. Wills Auditorium

School production groups include the Fall Drama, the Spring Musical, Jazz Band, Pep Band, Camerata, Clifftones, Overtones, Chamber Orchestra, and Garage Orchestra.[21] The school is known for its award-winning annual musicals.[22] The high school produces musicals and dramatic productions at the school auditorium, which was built in 1998 and seats 500.[13] In 2010, it was renamed for former Superintendent Frances Wills. The auditorium has hosted other Briarcliff shows and events, including the Centennial Variety Show (April 26–27, 2002), arranged by the nine-member Briarcliff Manor Centennial Committee for the village's centennial celebration.[1][13] The school was the first US high school to perform the British musical The Hired Man, from March 7–9, 2014.[23]


Athletic Teams at Briarcliff High School[24] V = Varsity, VB = Varsity B, JV = Junior Varsity F = Freshmen, Mod = Modified
Sport Level Season Gender
Baseball V, JV, F, Mod Spring Boys
Basketball V, JV, F, Mod Winter Boys, Girls
Bowling V Winter Boys, Girls
Cheerleading V Fall, Winter Girls
Cross country running V, JV, Mod Fall Boys, Girls
Field Hockey V, JV, Mod Fall Co-ed
Football V, F, Mod Fall Boys
Golf V, JV Spring Co-ed
Ice hockey V Winter Co-ed
Lacrosse V, JV, Mod Spring Boys, Girls
Soccer V, JV, Mod Fall Boys, Girls
Softball V, JV, Mod Spring Girls
Swimming/Diving V Fall, Winter Boys, Girls
Tennis V, JV Spring, Fall Boys, Girls
Track and field V, JV, Mod Winter, Spring Co-ed
Volleyball V, JV, Mod Fall Girls

Besides intramural sports, Briarcliff High School has junior varsity and varsity teams in sixteen sports, playing under the name Briarcliff Bears.[25] In 2010, the soccer team became nationally ranked by ESPN as a top-50 national team.[26]


The school offers courses in five languages: Spanish, Latin, French, Conversational Italian, and Mandarin Chinese. Electives include:[21]

English Languages Mathematics Science Social Studies Performing arts Visual arts Technology
  • Drama
  • TV Production
  • Creative Writing
  • Public Speaking
  • Short Fiction
  • Conversational Italian I and II
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Statistics
  • Computer Applications
  • Business and Finance
  • Finite Mathematics
  • Calculus
  • Marine Biology
  • Forensics
  • Environmental Science
  • Topics in Chemistry
  • Law in America
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Global Interaction
  • Band
  • Choral Music
  • Orchestra
  • Dance
  • Music Theory
  • Photo I, II, and III
  • Digital Photography
  • Ceramics
  • Sculpture
  • Introduction to Java I and II
  • Principles of Engineering

School ranking[edit]

The school is 31st out of over 1,100 schools on the 2014 U.S. News & World Report rankings for New York, and 156th out of over 19,400 schools nationally.[4][27] In the 2013 U.S. News & World Report, Briarcliff High School was 31st out of 1,100 schools in New York, and 170th out of over 21,000 schools nationally.[28] Newsweek rankings for the school include 42nd nationally in 2000,[29] 96th nationally and 17th in New York in 2005,[30] and 106th nationally, 20th in New York, and 28th in New England in 2013.[31] In 2014, it ranked the school 17th-best in the country.[11] As well, Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District is rated as the fifth-wealthiest school district in the United States and the third-wealthiest in New York. Briarcliff High School students greatly exceed averages on New York State Assessment tests, with almost 100% of Briarcliff students having recorded passing grades.[32]


Middle-aged man posing in a suit
John Hersey

Notable alumni of Briarcliff High School include Michael Azerrad, an author; Clifford Carter, a musician;[33] John Hersey, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and journalist who grew up in Briarcliff and attended the public schools;[5][34][35] Brice Marden, a minimalist painter who grew up in the village and is a graduate of Briarcliff High School from 1965;[36][37] Tom Ortenberg, the CEO of Open Road Films and the former president of Lionsgate Films; and minor league baseball player Bobby Blevins, who grew up in the village and graduated from Briarcliff High School in 2003.[38][39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tuition is only billed to students residing outside of the school district.


  1. ^ a b Briarcliff Manor: The First 100 Years – The Centennial Variety Show. Village of Briarcliff Manor. 2002. 
  2. ^ a b "Search for Public Schools - School Detail for Briarcliff High School". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "Briarcliff High School Program Review and Longitudinal Achievement Results for Pocantico Students". Briarcliff High School. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "Briarcliff High School – Overview". U.S. News & World Report. 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Cheever, Mary (1990). The Changing Landscape: A History of Briarcliff Manor-Scarborough. West Kennebunk, Maine: Phoenix Publishing. ISBN 0-914659-49-9. LCCN 90045613. OCLC 22274920. OL 1884671M. 
  6. ^ "Briarcliff High School". Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools. Commission on Elementary Schools. Retrieved May 22, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Rosenberg, Merri (June 1, 1997). "School Districts Try to Attract Tuition-Paying Students". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2014. 
  8. ^ "High School – Briarcliff Manor UFSD". Briarcliff Manor School District. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Facilitators – Center for Educational Leadership". Board of Cooperative Educational Services. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  10. ^ Matthews, Cara; Nackman, Barbara L. (January 13, 2013). "Schools Say Shared Services Bring Best Savings". The Journal News. 
  11. ^ a b "America's Top Schools 2014". Newsweek. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Briarcliff Bulletin Goes Online". The Briarcliff Bulletin. September 27, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c Briarcliff Manor Centennial Committee (2002). The Briarcliff Manor Family Album: Celebrating a Century. Cornwall, New York: Village of Briarcliff Manor. 
  14. ^ Lee, Tien-Shun (September 3, 2011). "Lots of Summer Renovations at Briarcliff Schools". Briarcliff Daily Voice. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Briarcliff Improving Its School Facilities". Pleasantville-Briarcliff Manor Patch. September 24, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  16. ^ Nocella, Michael (January 22, 2014). "Briarcliff Schools Bond Vote Passes 363–42". Pleasantville-Briarcliff Manor Patch. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  17. ^ Hanson, Alesha (June 26, 2014). "Briarcliff Schools Release Capital Projects Update". Briarcliff Daily Voice. Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  18. ^ Our Village: Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. 1902 to 1952. Historical Committee of the Semi–Centennial. 1952. OCLC 24569093. 
  19. ^ "Comprehensive Plan – Village of Briarcliff Manor". Village of Briarcliff Manor. November 2007. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Similar School Groupings for the New York State School Report Card for 2006–07 Outcomes – Group 52". New York State Education Department. August 22, 2008. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c Kaishan, James. "Briarcliff High School – Pocantico Hills Report". Briarcliff Manor School District. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  22. ^ Gross, Jane (May 4, 2003). "In High School, Putting on a Show Means Broadway Dazzle". The New York Times. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Briarcliff First U.S. High School to Present The Hired Man, March 7–9". Pleasantville-Briarcliff Manor Patch. February 26, 2014. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Briarcliff Manor UFSD 2013–2014 Athletics". Briarcliff Manor School District. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Briarcliff High School Football". MSG Varsity. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Girls Soccer". ESPN Internet Ventures. Archived from the original on January 22, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  27. ^ "New York High Schools". U.S. News & World Report LP. 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Briarcliff High School – Overview". U.S. News & World Report. 2013. Archived from the original on July 2, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  29. ^ Tuinstra, Rachel (March 12, 2000). "In Brief; Top High Schools". The New York Times. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  30. ^ "The Complete List of the 1,000 Top U.S. Schools". Microsoft Corporation. Archived from the original on May 10, 2005. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  31. ^ "2013 America's Best High Schools". IBT Media, Inc. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  32. ^ "America's Richest School Districts". Fox Business. 24/7 Wall St. June 8, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  33. ^ Lee, Tien-Shun (September 29, 2011). "Briarcliff Teen a Musical Superstar". Briarcliff Daily Voice. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  34. ^ Weingarten, Marc (2010). The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight: Wolfe, Thompson, Didion, and the New Journalism Revolution. New York: Random House LLC. ISBN 978-1-4000-4914-1. OCLC 60558916. OL 8363280M. 
  35. ^ Dee, Jonathan. "John Hersey, The Art of Fiction No. 92". The Paris Review. The Paris Review. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  36. ^ Marden, Brice (October 3, 1972). Oral history interview with Brice Marden, 1972 Oct. 3. Tape-recorded with Paul Cummings. Smithsonian Institution. Archives of American Art. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  37. ^ Vincent, Tom (June 24, 2011). "Briarcliff High Honors Notable Past Grads". River Journal. River Journal Inc. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  38. ^ Pinciaro, Tony (June 10, 2011). "Briarcliff's Blevins Pitching for New Team". Briarcliff Daily Voice. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Briarcliff's Bobby Blevins To Pitch For Italian Team In Asia". Briarcliff Daily Voice. November 8, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 

External links[edit]