Jamaica High School

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Jamaica High School
Established 1925
Type Public
Principal Walter Acham
Students 1364
Grades 9–12
Location 167-01 Gothic Drive,
Jamaica, Queens, New York City, New York, USA
Coordinates 40°42′52″N 73°47′54″W / 40.7145°N 73.7982°W / 40.7145; -73.7982Coordinates: 40°42′52″N 73°47′54″W / 40.7145°N 73.7982°W / 40.7145; -73.7982
Colors Red & Blue
Mascot Beavers
Jamaica HS south long jeh.jpg

Jamaica High School is a four-year public high school in Jamaica, Queens, New York. The school is administered by the New York City Department of Education. The campus is located at the corner of 167th Street and Gothic Drive.


The school building was designed by William H. Gompert and built in 1925.[1] At the time of construction, the school building was the largest in the United States; it earned designation as a New York City landmark in 2009.[2] In its heyday in 1950, Jamaica High School's 4600 students were the most in all of Queens.

In 2009, the New York City Department of Education made plans to close the school, citing a graduation rate that "has stagnated below 50% for years." This decision was challenged in court, resulting in alternative plans for the future.[3]

Academic Offerings[edit]

Special academic programs include the Academy of Finance, Gateway, Law, Business, Engineering, College Now, and Advanced Placement.

Academy of Finance 
Jamaica High School Academy of Finance students can participate in after-school Exploring Programs, where students are to be mentored by professionals in a field. They also take special trips and are offered an internship during the summer of their junior year based on their grades, networking skills, and good economic standing.
Gateway to Higher Education Program 
Founded in 1986, the Gateway Program prepares low income and minority public school students for college and the pursuit of health and science-related careers. The Gateway Program offers summer placements and summer internships to the students, in partnership with various universities, museums, hospitals, research laboratories and other institutions. Gateway provides its teachers with ongoing professional development and keeps students and their group of teachers together throughout high school to maintain continuity. Gateway Students also participate in the Bridge to Medicine Program at York College. During their senior year, students spend time at the York College to gain experience of the medical profession.
Law Institute 
In the Law Institute, students gain experience of the legal profession, with visiting solicitors from White & Case and professors from nearby St. John's University. They are offered courses like Introduction to Law, Criminal Law and Constitutional Law.
The Engineering Institute focuses on robotics and is strongly math-based, for students who can maintain good academic standing.
College Now 
The College Now Program at Jamaica High School gives students the opportunity to take college level courses in the high school setting. A wide variety of English and Math classes are offered before or after school and students receive up to three college credits and one high school credit per course. Students start in their junior year, and are entitled to one course per semester. Therefore, a Jamaica High School College Now Student can leave with twelve credits, the equivalent of a semester of college, for free.
Advanced Placement 
Courses are also offered in Art History, Biology, Calculus, French Language, French Literature, Government and Politics: United States, Spanish Language.

School Statistics[edit]

1214 Students:

  • 45% Black
  • 25% Asian
  • 19% Hispanic
  • 1% White[4]
  • Attendance 74%
  • Free Lunch 44%
  • Graduation Rate 52%


  • Jamaica High School Girls Track won the New Balance Award [5]
  • Principals for a Day have been actors Ed Lover and Steve Harvey and gold medal Olympic winner and graduate of Jamaica High School, Bob Beamon[6]
  • Jamaica High School holds an annual boat race in their pool, where students combine laws of physics and art skills, http://jamaicahighschool.org/ATH/boatrace/abramo.html [7]

Notable alumni[edit]

Les Levine  June 1960,  bass-man vocalist, member of the legendary "Del-Vikings" singing group
  • Herbert London, 1956, candidate for New York mayor and governor.[8]
  • Irving Malin, 1950, critic of postmodern fiction, editor and anthologist .[8]
  • John N. Mitchell, 1931, Attorney General of the United States.[8]
  • Walter O'Malley, 1920, (1903–1979), owner of the Brooklyn and L.A. Dodgers.[8][14]
  • Letty Cottin Pogrebin, writer and journalist.[10]
  • Michael Savage (1958, as Michael Weiner), author of health and nutrition books, radio talk show host.[8]
  • Gunther Schuller, 1943, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, author and conductor.[8]
  • Al Seiden, 1955, All-American basketball player at St. John's
  • Bobby Susser, 1960, Multi-award-winning children's songwriter.[8]
  • Edwin Vane, 1945, former executive for NBC and ABC, and CEO of Group W Productions. Credited with putting on several key shows in the prime time lineup during the 1970s and 1980s. Credits include The Beatles, Happy Days, Magilla Gorilla, and He-man and the Masters of the Universe. Also credited for creating the three-staged approach and name of the popular and long-running game show Jeopardy! with Merv Griffin.
  • George Vecsey, 1956, sportswriter for The New York Times.[8][10]
  • Joseph von Sternberg, filmmaker (dropped out)
  • Dolores Wilson, opera singer and musical theatre actress[15]
  • Lester Wilson, 1959, choreographer


  1. ^ Jamaica H.S. poised to win landmark status Queens Chronicle
  2. ^ Kurshan, Virginia (March 24, 2009). "Jamaica High School". Landmarks Preservation Commission. City of New York. 
  3. ^ "Elliptical vs. treadmill: Which will give you the better workout?". Daily News (New York). [not in citation given]
  4. ^ "HS 470 Jamaica High School". Inside Schools. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  5. ^ http://jamaicahighschool.org/ATH/womenstrack.htm
  6. ^ http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/High/Directory/school/?sid=1474
  7. ^ http://www.jamaicahighschool.org/ATH/boatrace.htm
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o NOTEWORTHY ALUMNI OF JAMAICA HIGH SCHOOL[dead link], Jamaica High School. Accessed November 2, 2007.
  9. ^ Williams, Lena. "TRACK AND FIELD; Soothing an Old Ache", The New York Times, January 1, 2000. Accessed November 7, 2007. "As a student at Jamaica High School, Beamon came under the tutelage of Larry Ellis, the renowned track coach, and was named to the all-American track and field team as well as the all-city squad."
  10. ^ a b c Vescey, George. "Sports of The Times; St. John's Must Hire Noo Yawker", The New York Times, April 17, 1992. Accessed November 2, 2007. "Well, pal, I recently went back to my alma mater, Jamaica High School, this beautiful building on the hill, which produced the Cleftones and Letty Cottin Pogrebin at the very same time, a few decades back."
  11. ^ Kilgannon, Corey. "Got Milk? Hula Hoop? It's a Record!; He's Guinness's King Of Strange Feats, All for Inner Peace", The New York Times, June 12, 2003. Accessed November 2, 2007.
  12. ^ Sheila Jackson-Lee, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed November 2, 2007.
  13. ^ Fox, Margalit. "Gerald S. Lesser, Shaper of ‘Sesame Street,’ Dies at 84", The New York Times, October 4, 2010. Accessed October 4, 2010.
  14. ^ "Walter F. O'Malley, Leader of Dodgers' Move to Los Angeles, Dies at 75; Unqualified Success", The New York Times, August 10, 1979. "The son of a commissioner of markets, he attended Jamaica High School in Queens and Culver Military Academy on Indiana, where he played on the baseball team until a broken nose finished his playing career."
  15. ^ "Dolores Wilson". Opera News. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 6 October 2010. 

External links[edit]