Bergen County Academies
|Bergen County Academies|
200 Hackensack Avenue|
Hackensack, NJ 07601
|Type||Public magnet high school|
|School district||Bergen County Technical Schools|
|Vice principal||Raymond Bath|
|Enrollment||1,059 (as of 2015-16)|
|Student to teacher ratio||11.3:1|
|Athletics conference||Big North Conference|
The Bergen County Academies (BCA), commonly referred to as Bergen Academies or as the Academies due to its seven academic and professional divisions, is a tuition-free public magnet high school located in Hackensack, New Jersey that serves students in the ninth through twelfth grades from Bergen County, New Jersey. Tuition is paid for by the student's home school district (as mandated by legislation), the State of New Jersey, and a number of public and private grants.
Founded in 1991, BCA has been named as one of the 23 highest performing high schools in the United States by The Washington Post  and in 2018, U.S. News & World Report recognized BCA as the #43 high school in the United States and the #2 high school in New Jersey. BCA is a National Blue Ribbon School, a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology, home of two 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search National Finalists including the First Place Winner, and a Model School in the Arts as named by the New Jersey Department of Education.
Admission to BCA is highly selective, as the school typically accepts about 15-19% of the approximately 1,600 students who apply each year through a process that includes middle school transcripts, letters of recommendation, an entrance test, and an interview by a panel of faculty. As of the 2015-2016 school year, the school had an enrollment of 1,059 students and 94.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.3:1. There were 34 students eligible for free lunch.
The school's strengths are its academics, extracurricular activities, and notable faculty. While offering some 16 AP courses, BCA does not focus on them. Led by a faculty of which 20% hold PhDs, students at BCA enjoy courses that often surpass AP courses in technical rigor and creativity.
- 1 Awards and rankings
- 2 Academics
- 2.1 Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology (Science | AAST)
- 2.2 Academy for Business and Finance (Business | ABF)
- 2.3 Academy for Culinary Arts and Hospitality Administration (Culinary | ACAHA)
- 2.4 Academy for Engineering and Design Technology (Engineering | AEDT)
- 2.5 Academy for Medical Science Technology (Medical | AMST)
- 2.6 Academy for Technology and Computer Science (CompSci | ATCS)
- 2.7 Academy for Visual and Performing Arts (Visual/Theater/Music | AVPA)
- 3 Clubs and extracurricular programs
- 4 Campus and facilities
- 5 History
- 6 Notable alumni
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Awards and rankings
In 2015, Bergen County Academies was one of 15 schools in New Jersey, and one of 9 public schools, to be recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School in the exemplary high performing category by the United States Department of Education. In the same year, Newsweek ranked BCA 5th out of the top 500 public schools in America in 2015 and 4th in New Jersey.
Inside Jersey magazine ranked BCA 1st in its 2014 ranking of New Jersey's Top Performing High Schools. In the same year, The Daily Beast ranked BCA 15th in the nation among over 700 magnet and charter schools, 2nd among the 25 Best High Schools in the Northeast, and 1st among schools in New Jersey. The Washington Post listed BCA as one of 23 top performing schools with elite students intentionally excluded from its 2014 list of America's Most Challenging High Schools "because, despite their exceptional quality, their admission rules and standardized test scores indicate they have few or no average students".
63.5% of the Class of 2015 will be National Merit Scholars, Finalists, Semifinalists, or Commended students. 165 of 255 students qualified for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program are from the state of New Jersey. Of those who qualified, 124 are qualified to be National Commended Scholars (scorers in the top 5%) and 36 are qualified to be National Merit Semifinalists (scorers in the top 0.5%).
BCA is divided into seven academic and professional divisions which are often referred to by their single-word nicknames or acronyms. However, BCA is treated as a single high school within the district and the state. BCA has an extended school day from 8:00 am to 4:10 pm. The day starts with a 4-minute Information Gathering Session (IGS) followed by 27 modules (commonly referred to as "mods") that last 15 minutes each.
There are 18 academic departments at BCA: Biology, Business, Chemistry, Culinary Arts, Engineering, English, Health/PE, History, Journalism, Mathematics, Music, Physics, Studio Arts and Graphic Communications, Technology, Theater Arts, Senior Experience, Visual Arts, and World Languages. All academies require four years of English, mathematics, social studies, and physical education, as well as three years of science and world language. All students take three years of projects and clubs, with clubs placed at the last three mods on Wednesday. Seniors participate in Senior Experience, a cooperative education or internship program through which seniors work and learn for the full business day each Wednesday instead of reporting to school. In addition, 40 hours of community service are required for graduation.
While offering some 16 AP courses, BCA does not focus on them. This often hurts its placement in rankings with methodologies that place great weight on the test-driven, college-level courses. BCA has traditionally given teachers great freedom in curriculum design to adequately engage the intellectual capacity of the student body. Courses thus often surpass AP courses in technical rigor and creativity. Such courses include Series Hybrids and Electric Vehicles, Civil Engineering and Architecture, Cybersecurity, Digital Electronics, Optics and Lasers, Arduino Microcontroller, Modern Optical Physics, Advanced Problems in Music Theory and Technology, Comparative Asian Cultures, Microscopy, Forensic Science, Biological Psychology, Foundations of Nanotechnology, Interactive Design, Stagecraft, Medical Microbiology, Bioengineering, Markets & Trading, Zoology, Acting Methods, Bioethics, Anatomy and Physiology, Organic Chemistry, Macroeconomics and International Economics, Advanced Business Topics, Entrepreneurship, and Culinology.
Research is available to students in all academies: the independent research opportunities offered allow students to compete in science fairs on local to international levels as well as submit papers for publication.
Students of all academies participate in various studio and performing arts courses. The BCA Concert and Chamber Choirs have won excellent ratings and awards at local and national competitions under Dr. Patrick D. Finley. The instrumental performance program offers other features, including an opportunity for students to play with the North Jersey Philharmonic and the Guitar and Mandolin Society, the latter of which was founded by BCA's instrumental music director Michael Lemma. The school features two studio art labs. One of the studios is a visual arts lab equipped with compositing and printing equipment to train students in graphic communication and print media. Artwork produced by students have won awards in local, statewide, and national competitions. The theatre department puts on plays and musicals each year.
Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology (Science | AAST)
AAST was founded on a charter school framework in 1992 with the mission of preparing students for careers in math and science by promoting a problem-solving, project-based, technical learning environment. AAST has departed from this model and has since become a more standard magnet school. The roots of the program can be seen in its unique science curriculum, which emphasizes and integrates chemistry, biology, and physics, and its hallmark Wednesday lab rotation for the first two years. Much of the AAST model, including the 6-mod project period on Wednesday, has been adopted by the other academies.
Academy for Business and Finance (Business | ABF)
Originally called the Academy for Business and Computer Technology (ABCT), ABF participates in the IB Diploma Programme beginning in the junior year. ABF is the only academy that requires its students to participate in the full IB Diploma Programme. Students in ABF take courses in economics, management, business law, management information systems, business ethics, and the challenging IB curriculum. BCA was certified to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma in January 2004 and is one of only 16 schools in New Jersey to offer the IB program at the high school level.
Academy for Culinary Arts and Hospitality Administration (Culinary | ACAHA)
Founded in 1997 and originally called the Academy for Culinary Arts (ACA), ACAHA represents a culinary vocational program that was reworked to give students a more academic focus. Originally grouped with APT and AVAGC as "career" academies, ACAHA was set apart from the college prep programs of AAST, ABF, AEDT and AMST. After being reorganized into the academic, college-prep academies, the name changed to the present name in 2002 to reflect the new curriculum. Head instructor Mary Beth Brace has been recognized as Advisor of the Year for SkillsUSA and has received attention for her devotion as a baking and culinary arts instructor. Chef John Branda, who worked in the food service industry for 30 years, was the saucier at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and co-owner of an upscale Fair Lawn, New Jersey restaurant.
Academy for Engineering and Design Technology (Engineering | AEDT)
This academy's core curriculum is similar to that of AAST, but provides more room for courses in electronics and design. The program encourages students to take part in competitions such as "BattleBots IQ." Students in AEDT take courses such as Digital Electronics, Principles of Engineering, Introduction to Engineering Design, and Electrical Engineering.
Academy for Medical Science Technology (Medical | AMST)
Students in AMST have more required biology courses, which include Medical Science Seminar, Biotechnology Lab, Advanced Topics in Medicine, and Anatomy and Physiology.
Academy for Technology and Computer Science (CompSci | ATCS)
ATCS has a primary focus on the world of computers and the Internet along with different types of engineering. Its students are well-prepared for careers such as computer programming, software engineering, and other computer- and engineering-related professions. The updated curriculum focuses on mobile application development as well as study material from engineering- and digital electronics-related studies. ATCS is also the progenitor of hackBCA, the first ever high school hackathon, drawing major corporate sponsorship and hundreds of high school students to the school in a 24-hour hacking event.
Academy for Visual and Performing Arts (Visual/Theater/Music | AVPA)
AVPA is unique for being subdivided into three divisions: Visual, which focuses on combining skill and passion into one cohesive movement; Music, which requires students to take keyboarding and digital music classes as well as master a focused instrument; and Theatre, which stages all plays at the school and has resources similar to and sometimes better than Broadway plays. Depending on their focus, students in AVPA take classes in drawing, painting, printing, acting, and stagecraft, and music or music theory.
Clubs and extracurricular programs
Model United Nations
BCA has a successful Model United Nations team that runs its own Model UN conference, called AMUN. The BCA Model UN team has won Best Delegation at countless conferences, including those hosted by Yale University, Princeton University, the George Washington University, and New York University. The BCA Model UN team has also earned many individual delegate awards.
BCA's debate team competes in both the varsity and junior varsity levels of debate. BCA's policy debate program finished first in Bergen County in 2005-2006, beating Tenafly High School and the Dwight-Englewood School.
BCA hosts an accomplished Junior State of America (JSA) chapter. It won Chapter of the Year for the Mid-Atlantic State in the 2011-2012, 2014-2015, and 2016-2017 school years, and was home to the Mid-Atlantic Statespersons of the Year in 2014-2015 and 2016-2017. It meets as a Wednesday club and also attends and hosts JSA conventions.
The Math Team is open to all academies, but is known as "AAST Math Team" for historical and logistical reasons.
With over 150 students from grades 12 and below in participation, Math Team is the largest extracurricular team at the Academies. The late Joseph Holbrook, chair of the math department, was the team's coach from its founding until his January 2010 death. In line with the school's original philosophy, Holbrook created a model for mathematics education that was directed at solving non-standard problems, without concerning traditional time restraints and curricula. Students are encouraged to come to practices and participate with the team in high school math competitions such as the AMCs, AIME, USAMO, Mandelbrot, Harvard–MIT Mathematics Tournament, and ARML. The team often ranks within the top ten in competitions it enters, competing against other top magnet schools as well as teams representing entire states and regions.
In 2008, the team won first place in Division B at the Princeton University Mathematics Competition, an annual competition attended routinely by the team. The school routinely has 10+ students qualifying for the USAMO (United States of America Mathematical Olympiad), with a student winning the competition in 2012. The school captured first place at the 2009 ARML Local competition, another routine annual competition. In 2015, student Ryan Alweiss competed on the American team at the International Math Olympiad, helping the US win the competition for the first time since 1994 with a 98th percentile score of 31.
BCA's BattleBots IQ team, known as the Titanium Knights, won the 2006 national heavyweight championship in the high school division with the robot E2V2, and won two other awards for another 120-pound robot, Knightrous. In previous years, the team has won second, third, and fourth place titles in BBIQ, and affiliated student teams have won numerous awards in Northeast Robotics Club events.
Other national competitions
BCA shares its sports program with the Bergen County Technical Schools in Teterboro and Paramus. The boys' teams, called the Bergen Tech Knights, and the girls' teams, the Bergen Tech Lady Knights, compete in the Big North Conference, following a reorganization of the Northern New Jersey sports leagues by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. In the 2009-2010 school year, the school competed in the North Jersey Tri-County Conference, which was established on an interim basis to facilitate the realignment. Before the realignment, Bergen Tech had been placed in the Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League (NNJIL) at the start of the Fall 2006 athletic season. With 1,605 students in grades 10-12, Bergen Tech is classified by the NJSIAA for most sports as North I Group IV for athletic competition purposes.
Numerous sports are offered for boys and girls, including basketball, bowling, golf, lacrosse, soccer, track, tennis, and volleyball. For boys, offerings also include football. As of the 2008-2009 school year, wrestling was discontinued. During the 2007-2008 school year, a varsity fencing team was initiated by parents along with the Athletic Department.
Athletic achievements for the Bergen Tech Knights and Bergen Tech Lady Knights include:
- In 2006, the football team reached the playoffs before losing to Randolph High School 29-0. In the same year, the boys' soccer team advanced to the state tournament, winning in the first round before losing to Memorial High School in the semifinal game.
- The tennis team and baseball team advanced to the playoffs in 2009, with the tennis team continuing on to the semifinals after winning sectionals.
- In 2014, the baseball team made it to the North I Group IV state tournament as the last seed. They would become the first team in program history to pass the first round of the state tournament with a 3-2 victory over first-seeded Wayne Valley High School. The team also reached the finals of the NJTAC state tournament before losing to Passaic Tech.
Campus and facilities
The Bergen County Academies is located on the John Grieco Campus of the Bergen County Technical Schools District in Hackensack. The school occupies a sprawling main building which runs along Hackensack Avenue as well as a nearby Environmental Science Center (ESC) building.
A dedicated Bloomberg workstation lets students conduct independent financial markets analysis and research. The option to earn a Bloomberg Certification is also available through tutorials. BCA is one of the few high schools in the country to have access to this technology.
First opened in May 2008, the Nanotechnology Lab offers one scanning electron microscope and one transmission electron microscope to experienced faculty and students, especially those conducting research in the natural sciences.
Stem Cell Lab
The stem cell research laboratories are foundational to BCA's research program, which enables students to work as scientists.
Studio Art Lab
The school features two studio art labs. One of the studios is a visual arts lab equipped with compositing and printing equipment to train students in graphic communication and print media.
The school has a restaurant-grade kitchen for teaching culinary arts. The Academy Grill serves as a laboratory for those taking culinary arts or hospitality administration classes.
The Video Lab broadcasts inside the school, featuring workstations, professional cameras, and a bluescreen.
The theatre arts department produces plays and musicals each year in an auditorium adjoining the main building that seats 1,200. It is regularly rented to outside professional groups.
The school's baseball field, football field, track, and parking for students and visitors are located behind the academic buildings.
The school is considered the brainchild of John Grieco and began as a single academy, "The Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology" (AAST), which shared the current campus with the Bergen County Technical High School now located in Teterboro. The first group of AAST students was inducted in 1992 for the graduating class of 1996.
In 1997, additional academies opened on the campus: the Academy for Business and Computer Technology (ABCT), the Academy for Engineering and Design Technology (AEDT), and the Academy for Medical Science Technology (AMST). The following year saw the opening of three career institutes, renamed a year later to become academies: the Academy for Culinary Arts (ACA), the Academy for Power and Transportation (APT), and the Academy for Visual Arts and Graphic Communications (AVAGC). Soon, all seven programs began focusing on college preparation, adopting a liberal arts curriculum with a focus on their respective fields.
In 2001, a dispute initiated by the Bergen County School Administrators' Association focused on what Paramus Superintendent Janice Dime called "elitism." Several sending districts threatened to withdraw funding from the school. In response, the Bergen County Technical Schools agreed to increase the transparency of the admissions process and enter into talks with a number of sending districts.
In 2002, APT was eliminated. ABCT was split into the Academy for Business and Finance (ABF) and the Academy for Technology and Computer Science (ATCS). ACA added hotel administration to its coursework and became the Academy for Culinary Arts and Hospitality Administration (ACAHA). AVAGC expanded its scope to include performing arts and became the Academy for Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA). The school itself also changed its name numerous times, from "Bergen County Regional Academies" to "Bergen Academies" to "Bergen County Academy" and to the present "Bergen County Academies."
- Harry Altman (Class of 2005), featured in the 2002 documentary film Spellbound about the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
- George Hotz (Class of 2007), famous for computer and device hacking.
- Sachin H. Jain (Class of 1998), CEO of CareMore and former Chief Medical Information Officer of Merck.
- Kaavya Viswanathan (Class of 2004), author of the controversial 2006 novel entitled How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, since withdrawn due to accusations of plagiarism.
- School data for Bergen County Academies, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed February 12, 2018.
- Bergen County Technical High School, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed February 11, 2016.
- Admissions, Bergen County Academies. Accessed November 15, 2016.
- Mathews, Jay. "Top-performing schools with elite students", The Washington Post, April 4, 2014. Accessed April 9, 2016.
- "U.S. News & World Report". U.S. News & World Report. Missing or empty
- Class of 2018 Profile, Bergen County Academies. Accessed August 7, 2018.
- 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools All Public and Private, National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. Accessed November 14, 2016.
- Mueller, Mark. "Which N.J. schools were named National Blue Ribbon schools?", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, September 29, 2015. Accessed November 14, 2016. "Fifteen New Jersey schools have been recognized by the federal government as National Blue Ribbon Schools, a designation that celebrates excellence in academics or progress in closing the achievement gap among groups of students.... Each of the 15 New Jersey schools was chosen for the 'exemplary high performing' category, which weighs state or national tests, high school graduation rates and the performance of subgroups of students, such as those who are economically disadvantaged."
- "America's Top High Schools 2015". Newsweek. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
- "25 Best High Schools in the Northeast: 2. Bergen County Academies", The Daily Beast. Accessed November 21, 2014.
- Mathews, Jay. "Top-performing schools with elite students", The Washington Post, April 4, 2014. Accessed November 21, 2014. "These top-performing schools, listed in alphabetical order, were excluded from the list because, despite their exceptional quality, their selective admission rules and standardized test scores indicate they have few or no average students."
- "America's Most Challenging High Schools". 2014 FairTest. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- "PSAT FAQs - Testmasters". Retrieved January 26, 2017.
- . FairTest https://web.archive.org/web/20141129041018/http://bcts.bergen.org/index.php/bergen-county-academies/84-bcts-bca/bca-accolades?start=4. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2014. Missing or empty
- Senior Experience, Bergen County Academies. Accessed July 16, 2007.
- AVPA Main, Bergen County Academies. Accessed July 16, 2007.
- Bergen County Academies, International Baccalaureate Organization. Accessed May 24, 2007.
- Find an IB World School—results, International Baccalaureate Organization. Accessed July 18, 2007.
- "Leader Newspapers Top Stories". Retrieved January 26, 2017.
- C, KF. "The 150 Best High School Model UN Teams in North America 2013-2014". Best Delegate. Best Delegate. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- "BCA Past Awards". BCA Model UN. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
- "Awards Presented to 2012 USAMO Winners".
- "International Math Olympiad". IMO Foundation. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 14, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
- "Overall Standings". Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
- "Overall Standings". Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
- BCA Makerspace, Bergen Academies. Accessed July 18, 2017.
- 2006 Results for BattleBots IQ Archived December 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- Clubs, Bergen Academies. Accessed July 18, 2017
- League Memberships – 2016-2017, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed January 10, 2017.
- New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association League Memberships – 2009-2010, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, backed up by the Internet Archive as of July 24, 2011. Accessed August 14, 2017.
- General Public School Classifications 2015-2016, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, as of December 15, 2015. Accessed December 12, 2016.
- 2006 Football Tournament - North I, Group IV, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed April 23, 2007.
- 2006 Boys Soccer Tournament - North I, Group IV, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed April 23, 2007.
- 2005 Boys Team Tennis - North I, Group IV, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed April 23, 2007.
- 2005 Baseball - North I, Group IV, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed April 23, 2007.
- Auditorium Archived January 11, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., Bergen County Academies. Accessed December 2, 2012.
- Profiles/ABFIB_2016.pdf Academy for Business & Finance / International Baccalaureate Programme Class of 2016 Profile, Bergen County Academies. Accessed July 18, 2017.
- Home Page, Bergen County Academies Parent Partnership Organization. Accessed July 18, 2017.
- McKay, Martha. "Bergen teen claims win in global race to unlock iPhone -- Tech whiz cracks code tying it to AT&T network", The Record (Bergen County), August 24, 2007. Accessed February 11, 2016. "'"I've lived and breathed that phone for the last two months,' said Hotz, a Bergen County Academies grad who won a prestigious $20,000 Intel science fair prize this year for a device that projects a 3-D image."
- Adely, Hannan; and Dazio, Stefanie. "Bergen County Academies teacher accused of sending explicit emails to student", The Record (Bergen County), April 14, 2015. Accessed January 9, 2017. "DeWitt developed programs to teach students scientific methods and research, said Sachin Jain, a 1998 Bergen Academies graduate."
- "Once-touted novel has uncertain future", Arizona Republic, April 28, 2006, accessed April 23, 2007. "Weems, who taught literature to Viswanathan when she was a junior at Bergen County Academies in New Jersey, remembered her as a gifted student and as the winner of a number of writing contests."