Albany High School (New York)

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Albany High School
Albany High School (Albany, New York) (emblem).png
Type Urban public high school
Motto Assiduity[citation needed]
Established September 7, 1868
School district City School District of Albany
Principal Jodi M. Commerford
Faculty 217
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 2,410 (2014-15)[1]
Color(s) Blue and Gray
Mascot Falcon

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

International Baccalaureate World Schools
Nicknames Albany High, AHS

Albany High School (AHS) in Albany, New York, United States, is a public high school with an enrollment of about 2,600 students for the 2017-18 school year. The school is part of the City School District of Albany. It opened on September 7, 1868, as the Albany Free Academy. Albany High has been located at 700 Washington Avenue since 1974.

Albany High School is an International Baccalaureate school with an Advanced Placement program. The school newspaper is The Nest (published online, it replaced the longtime print newspaper The Patroon, in 2011), the literary magazine is Inkblot, and the yearbook is Prisms.

Albany High School is the only comprehensive public high school in the city.[2] The school is divided into four themed learning communities known as academies. Those academies are Citizenship Academy, which focuses on critical thinking and economic skills; Discovery Academy, which focuses on the arts and communication; Innovation Academy, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math; and Leadership Academy, which focuses on the skills needed to lead the way to a better future. All students in the school are a member of one of the four academies. Albany High School also includes the Abrookin Career and Technical Education Center, which is located three blocks away from the main high school campus. Abrookin's programmatic offerings include career and technical education (CTE) pathways such as culinary arts, cosmetology, construction technology, automotive technology and health sciences, to name a few.


The High School opened on September 7, 1868, as the Albany Free Academy with 141 students. The school was housed in Van Vechten Hall at 119 State Street until May 4, 1876, when it was relocated to Eagle Street (where the Albany County Courthouse is now located). In 1913, the school was moved to a more central location between Washington and Western Avenues. This "old" Albany High School building still stands, and it housed Philip Schuyler Elementary School until 2004. Prior to 1974, Albany had two high schools, Albany High School and Philip Schuyler High School. That year, the institutions were merged to form the "new" Albany High, located at 700 Washington Avenue (the school's current location).

Prior to 2006, the school had four cafeterias known as the Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest cafeterias. The walls between the two sets of cafeterias were demolished to form two large cafeterias known as the North and South cafeterias.

In 2006, metal detectors were installed at student entrance points to the school because of fights that took place within the school. The metal detectors were donated by the Albany Police Department. All students now have to go through a security checkpoint upon entering the school.

Prior to the 2011-12 school year, Albany High School was divided into two large administrative divisions known as "North House" and "South House". Each house had its own cafeteria and administrative offices. Some class assignments were determined by house and students were randomly assigned a house upon entry.

In 2011, the school established four themed learning communities known as academies (Citizenship Academy, Discovery Academy, Innovation Academy, and Leadership Academy). These four academies were established to provide students with extra support staff and allow students to experience a themed academic environment while still in high school. All of Albany High's students are assigned to one of the four academies. Citizenship and Innovation Academies share the former South House cafeteria while Discovery and Leadership Academies share the former North House Cafeteria. Elective courses are grouped based on a particular academy's theme; however, all students may take any elective within the school regardless of their academy. To encourage more students to attend the "redesigned" Albany High School, the school began to advertise itself in late 2010 by putting up advertisements at bus stops. The advertisements had photos of several students doing educational activities and had the slogan "Four New Academies, One Great Education."

In November 2015, city voters defeated a $196 million plan to renovate and expand Albany High by a close vote of 5,794 to 5,897.[3]


Albany High has a wide variety of academic programs, including a longstanding Advanced Placement program offering 19 courses.[4] In 2005, AHS was accredited as an International Baccalaureate World School and introduced an IB Diploma Program, which consists of a series of college-level courses for juniors and seniors leading to an alternative diploma.[5] Every year, several IB or AP students typically attend some of the nation's top-ranked universities, including those in the Ivy League. Albany High has made Newsweek's list of America's Top Public High Schools on multiple occasions, most recently in 2010 (when it ranked 976).[6][7] The ranking is based on the Challenge Index, which calculates the number of AP and IB exams taken at a school divided by the number of graduating seniors.[8]

Most academic courses are taught at Core, Regents, and Honors levels. Three foreign languages (Spanish, French, Chinese), are available. Within New York State, AHS was one of the first public schools outside of New York City to offer any form of Chinese as a foreign language. The school also has Senior Career Explorations (internships) in six areas[9] and a Project Lead the Way engineering program. An annex, the Abrookin Vocation-Technical Center, offers many career and technical courses

School receivership[edit]

In 2015 the New York State Education Department classified Albany High School as a "Struggling School" and placed it under the school receivership of the Superintendent of the City School District of Albany.[10][11] If the school does not demonstrate improvement in student performance within two years an Independent Receiver will be appointed by the district to serve under contract to the State Education Commissioner, and the district will have no control over decisions affecting the school.[12]


All students at Albany High are within one of four themed academies (Citizenship, Discovery, Innovation, and Leadership Academies). Students can apply to one of the academies through a lottery system several months in advance of an incoming school year. Students who don't apply before the deadline will be randomly assigned an academy upon entry. Many academic courses are group to a particular academy within the school; for example, the psychology courses are grouped to Leadership Academy. However, any student in the school can take any course regardless of his or her academy. The four academies are located in physical areas of the school.

Citizenship Academy[edit]

Citizenship Academy focuses on effective communications, critical thinking, and preparations for a global economy. Advanced mathematics electives are grouped to this academy. Other courses grouped to this academy include culinary arts, family and consumer sciences courses, and business courses. The motto of this academy is "The future depends on what we do today." The color of this academy is green.

Discovery Academy[edit]

Discovery Academy focuses on the arts and communication. Advanced English electives are grouped to this academy. Other electives grouped to this academy include advanced art courses, theater/drama courses, and all music courses. The motto of this academy is "Imagine the possibilities." Its color is gold.

Innovation Academy[edit]

Innovation Academy focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math. Advanced science electives are grouped to this academy. Other electives grouped to this academy include all Project Lead the Way engineering courses. Innovation Academy hosts themed luncheons known as "food for thought power lunches". During these events, a technologist visits and talks with students about a certain topic in the science and technology field. The motto of this academy is "Invent the future." Its color is red.

Leadership Academy[edit]

Leadership Academy focuses on civic and social responsibilities. Advanced social studies courses are grouped to this academy. Other courses electives grouped to this academy include adolescent psychology and language courses. Leadership Academy hosts themed luncheons known as "Lunch with A Leader". During those events, a local leader such as a politician or philanthropist visits to talk about how he or she is making a difference in the world. Visitors to these events included Albany mayor Gerald Jennings and Miss New York 2011, Kaitlin Monte. The motto of this academy is "Be the change you want to see in the world." Its color is blue.


Albany High School has a number of clubs; among the more active of these are the Falcon Council, the Albany Marching Falcons and Color Guard, Albany Falcons Winter Guard, Drama Club, Speech and Debate Team, FIRST Robotics, Inkblot (a literary club), Prisms (the yearbook club), NYODA Step Team, International Club, Key Club, Habitat for Humanity Club, Chess Club, Ski Club, Hike Club, Math Club, Art Club, Video Production Club, Jam Club (playing rock music), Captains' Club, Peace & Social Action Club, Anime Club, Fashion Club, Jewish Student Union, National Honor Society, Masterminds, Mock Trial, Gay/Straight Alliance, and Best Buddies. In addition, the school has a club for each of the four languages offered. In the 2011-2012 school year, a class of journalism students renamed and revamped the school paper "The Patroon" and created the student-run, web-based "The Nest".[13] In December, 2014 the City School District of Albany established a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Program (JROTC) at Albany High School named the Henry Johnson Battalion in honor of SGT Johnson. Currently the program enrolls over 100 cadets. In February 2017, the JROTC drill team was invited to compete in the official US Army Junior ROTC drill championships.[14]


Albany High School's interscholastic athletics program is affiliated with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (Section II). Albany High's student-athletes competed in the Big 10 Conference for many years until the conference disbanded following the 2013-14 school year. Fall interscholastic sports include American football, cross country, and soccer for men; cheerleading, volleyball, tennis, cross country, soccer and swimming/diving for women; and golf for men and women. Winter sports include swimming/diving and wrestling for men; cheerleading and step/drill for women; and basketball (which had its best seasons under great longtime coach Paul Lyons), bowling, and indoor track for men and women. Spring sports include baseball and tennis for men; softball and step/drill for women; and outdoor track for men and women.[15] Many sports are played at both varsity and junior varsity levels, and intramural activities are also offered. Albany High School soccer team in 2007 after almost 25 years made it through the sectional to semi final beaten the power house in big ten LaSalle, beating Saratoga High School in the 2nd round and beating Colonie Central High in the quarter final but losing to Niskayuna High School in semi final. Then in 2013 Albany high set the bar higher when they defeated 3rd seed Bethlehem and 1st seed Shenendehowa to make it to the finals in sectionals but eventually losing to 2nd seed Guilderland.

Theater arts[edit]

Albany High School hosts two plays every school year, one in the fall and one in the spring. The spring play is usually a musical. Plays and musicals that have been hosted by the school include Cabaret, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Splendor in the Grass, Scapino, The Laramie Project', My Fair Lady, and Carousel. The school has a theater arts class, a drama class, and a playwriting class that take place during regular school hours. The school's theater director is Ward Dales. Albany High School has received many awards from local organizations for its plays and musicals.[citation needed]


Albany High's current location at 700 Washington Avenue, which opened in 1974. The school consists of three brick buildings connected by indoor pedestrian bridges. The largest of these, the academic building, contains the classrooms, cafeterias, and media center. Across from the academic structure are the physical education building (housing the gymnasiums, locker rooms, and HVAC equipment) and another building containing the main office, auditorium, and music classrooms. Three bridges on the second floor connect the buildings.

Academic building[edit]

A rear view of Albany High's academic building showing Towers One, Two, and Three.

The academic building is the largest edifice on the Albany High School campus and the only one with three stories. The ground floor contains the two cafeterias (Citizenship/Innovation and Discovery/Leadership), kitchen, special education classrooms, technology classrooms, art studios, a recently opened school store known as "Falcons Rock", a Model U.N. room, a mock courtroom, various other classrooms, and even a credit union room known as the "Falcon Branch". The second floor is the main hub of the school because it is connected to the other two buildings by the pedestrian bridges. It contains the media center (the large school library housing over 26,000 books[16] as well as PC desktop computers). The library was fully renovated in 2012. The second floor also contains the college center (a relatively new room with computers intended to be used by students to research colleges[17]), and many classrooms. The third floor is entirely occupied by classrooms. All the science labs are located on this floor.

The dominant architectural feature of the rectangular building is its six towers, numbered one through six. Towers One, Two, and Three are on the west side, and Towers Four, Five, and Six are on the east side. The towers contain stairwells, restrooms, and assorted offices (Tower Two contains the school's elevator). They also have skylights above each stairwell. Students in Citizenship and Innovation Academies enter the school through Tower Six while students in Discovery and Leadership Academies enter through Tower Four.

The bulk of the Innovation Academy classrooms are located in the southern half of the first and second floors. The bulk of the Discovery Academy classrooms are located in the northern half of the second floor. The third floor of the academic building contains the bulk of the Leadership Academy and Citizenship Academy classrooms. The bulk of the Citizenship Academy classrooms are located in the southern half of the building and the bulk of the Leadership Academy are located in the northern half of the building. The four academies form academy wings painted their own distinct color (green for Citizenship Academy, gold for Discovery Academy, red for Innovation Academy, and blue for Leadership Academy) and has its own academy office and health office. The large guidance suite located in the Discovery Academy wing on the second floor provides all four academies with a set number of guidance counselors.

Room numbers in the academic building have three digits, with the first digit indicating the floor number. The other two digits depend on the side of the building, with the rooms of the northern half having odd numbers and the rooms of the Southern Half having even numbers. Rooms numbers increase as one goes towards the center of the building.

Physical education building[edit]

The physical education building contains the indoor athletic facilities. These include the main gymnasium (which can be divided into three smaller gyms using motorized curtains), "Rubber Gym" (a smaller gym named for its floor material), wrestling gym, dance studio, and six-lane swimming pool. The building also houses the male and female locker rooms, the athletic health office, the athletic director's office, and the Falcon Fitness Center, a recently renovated weight room. On the first floor of the two story building is the boiler room housing the school's heating equipment. The two air conditioning units are located on the roof. Students traveling to and from the nearby Abrookin building of Albany High School must enter and exit from the "PE" entrance located in this building.

Auditorium building[edit]

The third building on the Albany High campus houses the auditorium, main offices, and music classrooms. The diamond shaped auditorium has red cushioned seats, a triangular stage, and a catwalk area which is accessible by ladder. Located on the ground floor, the music facilities include a rehearsal rooms, choir room, office, and several practice rooms. The auditorium building contains the main lobby and serves as an entrance for school visitors.


The courtyard

The courtyard is located between the three buildings. A brick and concrete space with small trees and many benches, it serves as an entrance place for students during the morning. Senior year students have the privilege of eating lunch here. The school's three walkway bridges pass over the courtyard. Its concrete pavement was resurfaced in 2011.

Athletic fields[edit]

The Albany High campus contains athletic fields for soccer, baseball, American football, and softball. The school's running track was resurfaced in 2003.[18] Albany High's varsity football, soccer and baseball teams play their games at nearby Bleecker Stadium.

Abrookin Career and Technical Center[edit]

The Abrookin Career and Technical Center (formerly known as Abrookin Vocational-Technical Center) is a disconnected building of Albany High School located three blocks north of the main campus at 99 Kent Street. The building offers many career and technical courses in fields such as construction, cooking, electricity, engineering, cosmetology, computers (including a Cisco networking academy), and even an emergency medical technician course. It also houses family and consumer sciences courses. Students can walk to Abrookin from the main campus for a 1 to 3 period-long class. It takes about eight minutes to walk from the main campus to Abrookin. The building opened in 1974 as the Albany Occupational Center. The building was later renamed after the late school board member Manny Abrookin (1922–1994).


Of Albany High School's approximately 2,600 students, about 54% are African-American, 21% are White (non-Hispanic), 13% are Hispanic, 11% are Asian, and 1% are Native American or multiracial. The school has about 159 teachers and 49 other professional staff, with a student-to-teacher ratio of approximately 14:1.[19] Albany High enrolls students from more than 40 foreign nations.

Notable alumni[edit]


  • 1868 – 1886: John E. Bradley
  • 1886 – 1911: Oscar D. Robinson
  • 1911 – 1916: Frank A. Gallup
  • 1916 – 1951: Harry E. Pratt
  • 1951 – 1959: Stanley Heason
  • 1959 – 1967: Andrew Gardner
  • 1968 – 1986: John Bach
  • 1987 – 1995: David McGuire
  • 1995 – 1998: Willard Washburn
  • 1998 – 2001: John Metallo
  • 2001 – 2002: John Pellitier
  • 2002 – 2006: Michael T. Cioffi
  • 2006 – 2009: F. Maxine Fantroy-Ford
  • 2009 – 2012: David C. McCalla[29]
  • 2012 – 2015: Cecily L. Wilson-Turner[30]
  • 2015 – 2018: Dale Getto[31]
  • 2018 – : Jodi M. Commorford[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ALBANY HIGH SCHOOL". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved December 29, 2017. 
  2. ^ List of Schools (ACSD website). Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  3. ^ Lucas, Dave (12 November 2015). "Voters Reject Albany High Proposal". WAMC. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-04-11. Retrieved 2007-05-28. 
  5. ^ "Albany High School". International Baccalaureate®. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  6. ^ " National rankings place Albany High School among top high schools in America for advanced curriculum". Albany City School District press release, September 24, 2009.
  7. ^ "Albany school gets a favorable rating". Albany Times Union, September 25, 2009.
  8. ^ "America's Top Public High Schools". Newsweek, June 8, 2009.
  9. ^ Senior Career Exploration Programs Archived 2007-10-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Commissioner Elia Identifies 144 Struggling and Persistently Struggling Schools to Begin Implementation of School Receivership in New York State". New York State Education Department. 16 July 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  11. ^ "School Receivership". New York State Education Department. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  12. ^ "Receivership". Albany High School. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  13. ^ Clubs Archived 2007-11-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Sports Archived 2007-11-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "Albany's public schools by the numbers" from Capital Education, Spring 2008
  17. ^ AHS College Center Archived 2009-06-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ Facilities Plan: Status Report, Albany.
  19. ^ "2013 - ALBANY HIGH SCHOOL - Report Card - NYSED Data Site". 
  20. ^ a b c d e "Albany schools to showcase their own hall of famers". Albany Times Union. August 25, 2009
  21. ^ "T&FN: World Champs Women's 100 Stats" (PDF). Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  22. ^ Fitzgerald, Bryan (12 April 2011). "Long journey from Albany: Gene A. Cretz rose to be U.S. ambassador to Libya". Albany Times Union. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  23. ^ Hornbeck, Leigh (23 April 2011). "Alfred Freedman dies; Albany native headed psychiatric group". Albany Times Union. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Will Occupy Wall Street Upend Obama's Presidential Election? -- New York Magazine". Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  26. ^ Larissa MacFarquhar (3 November 2012). "Occupy Sandy". The New Yorker. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  27. ^ Sandy Storyline | 2013 Tribeca Film Festival Archived 2013-11-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ "'Housing Is a Human Right' Documents Struggle For Home". The Huffington Post. 18 March 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  29. ^ Albany City School District Press Release. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  30. ^ "AHS Administration". Albany High School. Archived from the original on 29 September 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ "City School District of Albany". 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°40′01″N 73°46′58″W / 42.666821°N 73.78268°W / 42.666821; -73.78268