Forest Hills High School (New York)

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Forest Hills High School
FHHS Original Seal.png
67-01 110th St.

New York

United States
Coordinates40°43′47″N 73°50′42″W / 40.7298°N 73.845°W / 40.7298; -73.845Coordinates: 40°43′47″N 73°50′42″W / 40.7298°N 73.845°W / 40.7298; -73.845
TypePublic secondary
MottoIt all begins and ends in the classroom.
Established1937; 86 years ago (1937)
School boardNew York City Department of Education
School districtNYC School District 28
School numberQ440
CEEB code331935
PrincipalPaul Wilbur
Color(s)Red, blue and gold
NewspaperThe Beacon

Forest Hills High School (FHHS) is a high school in Forest Hills, Queens, New York City. Dedicated in 1937,[1] it educates students in grades 9–12 and is operated by the New York City Department of Education. The school serves students from Forest Hills and Rego Park, as well as other nearby Queens neighborhoods such as Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Jamaica, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, and Woodside.

FHHS has often been extremely overcrowded throughout its history, often running several overlapping sessions. Traditionally, a large percentage of FHHS graduates have gone on to attend colleges.[2]

The school is a recipient of the silver medal from U.S. News & World Report's list of the best high schools in the nation.[3]


Front facade

Plans for a new high school were in the works since 1937, when the Board of Education announced plans for "a new building at Forest Hills High School, 110th Street and Sixty-sixth Road, Queens, [for] $2,900,000".[4] In 1938, while announcing plans for new construction, the Cord Meyer Development Company, already responsible for the development of most of Forest Hills, mentioned that plans for a high school were under consideration, in order to accommodate the growing population of families in the area and their demands for quality, public education.[5]

In 1939, the Board of Education planned to build a new school adjoining "the World Fair's Grounds" (today's Flushing Meadows-Corona Park), in order to alleviate overcrowding at Newtown, Grover Cleveland, and Jamaica High Schools. Local residents were sending their kids to the aforementioned schools, since the growing community at Forest Hills did not yet have a local high school. It was expected to cost $3,225,000 (equivalent to $62,800,000 in 2021), and it was to be built in a modified Georgian design. The vice president of the board at the time, Ellsworth S. Buck, called it "the most beautiful educational structure in the city... establishing a high point in the city's building program". It was to have shades of red brick, a gray slate roof, and a limestone trim. The school design was innovative in and of itself, with the gymnasiums and auditorium separated from the main unit (building). This created separate gymnasiums for boys and girls, with the extended wings forming a plaza. In order to meet the conditions of the locality, it was designed to be three stories high, with a total of 10 acres (40,000 m2) allotted to it. Partly due to its lot size, an athletic field was built into the back part of the lot, with a grandstand designed for 3,000 people and a "spacious" field for football and track. Designed by the architect Eric Kebbon, ground was to be broken in six months, and the school was expected to open its doors in September 1940.[6]

The school was formally dedicated on April 29, 1941 (it opened on February 3), 7 months behind schedule, but coming in under budget at a total cost of $2,550,000 (equivalent to $47,000,000 in 2021). It was hailed as an architectural masterpiece, "representative of the forward looking objectives of the New York City administration". The dedication ceremonies were attended by Mayor La Guardia. During his speech to the students of the newly dedicated school, he warned them to not be quitters, a subtle reference to the events of World War II brewing on the international scene.

The school's final version was a simplified version of the Georgian style, with red brick for its exterior, a buff limestone trim, and grey-black slate for the pitched roofs. At the time of its opening, in addition to regular classrooms, it contained an art shop, a "home-making" room, a model apartment, a cooking room, three art rooms, an art weaving room, a sewing room, a music room, a museum, a library, four typewriting rooms, two "business practice" rooms, ten science classrooms, a science lecture room, laboratories, an exhibit hall, and large separate gymnasiums for girls and boys. The auditorium was spacious, with almost 1,200 seats (there were 3,400 students at the time). It had a commanding view of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.[7]


Almost immediately, the school developed a reputation for excellence. In 1949, four students from the school qualified to compete in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search (known today as the Intel Science Talent Search), two more than Bronx Science at the time.[8] In 1968, it made history as the first school to produce three Westinghouse Scholars in one year. The school's strong science program offered courses simulating a research environment similar to the one in which adult scientists worked.[9]

The school was involved in a fight regarding the construction of a low-income housing project in Forest Hills, as well as a proposed rezoning program that would have excluded sections of the community from attending the school.[10] The school was running triple sessions at the time, and it was feared that the influx of new families would exacerbate the already severe overcrowding at the school.[11] The rezoning was proposed to alleviate the potential overcrowding, by sending some students to the newly opened Hillcrest High School, which was also bitterly opposed by the local community.[12] The rezoning was approved by the courts, despite the battle waged.[13] Some parents tried to enroll their children anyway at Forest Hills, but they were denied.[14] The proposal at the center of the entire controversy, the construction of a housing project, led to accusations of name calling, racism, and anti-Semitism.[15] It was eventually cited by President Richard Nixon when declaring a federal government moratorium on building public housing. By then, Forest Hills "had become shorthand for the racial and class tensions that underpinned much of the national debate about public housing, between its liberal advocates and its conservative opponents".[15] The school was also notably involved in a fight against forced busing. It was discontinued in 1988.

Academics and admissions[edit]

Special programs offered in the school include the Carl Sagan Science/Math Honors Academy, the Law & Humanities Institute, the Academy of Instrumental Music/Performing Arts, the Drama Academy, and the zoned program, which are all used as a basis for admissions (a more detailed review of the admissions criteria into these programs is explained further below). Upon acceptance and arrival into the school, other programs, such as Medical Biology/Health Professions and Hospital Science (a year-long program where students intern at a local hospital for one semester; known as Med-Bio), the Academy of Public Service (APS), the Richard A. Brown Honors Law Institute (known as Brown), the Business Academy, Flags Academy (Foreign Language Academy for a Global Society, with a focus on the use of foreign language in the international business community), the Virtual Enterprises Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program are also offered. The school also offers College Now[16] Courses, in collaboration with the City University of New York (CUNY). Its CUNY College Now partner schools are Queens College and LaGuardia Community College.[17]

The school offers several methods for potential students to apply to the school, with several of its programs among the most popular in the city, which are described below.

Law & Humanities[edit]

The Law & Humanities Institute received 4856 applications for 68 seats in 2011. Students in the Law Academy at FHHS take part in a four-year course of study that takes them from an introduction to law and legal writing through a study of civil and criminal law as well as constitutional law. Students within the program have the opportunity to take part in internships with New York law firms and the Queens District Attorney Office, and also benefit from partnerships with NYU, Fordham Law School and Hughes Hubbard & Reed. Each year, select students (typically juniors and seniors) participate in citywide Moot Court and Mock Trial competitions, demonstrating the skills they have developed in the program. Students also have the opportunity to produce a law journal and participate in the Forest Hills Youth Court, a program run in conjunction with Queens Borough Patrol North and the District Attorney's office.[18]

Admissions to the program is based on the Ed-Opt (Educational-Option) Formula, a program designed to attract a wide range of academic performers. Students applying to an Educational Option program are categorized into one of three groups based upon the results of their 7th grade standardized reading test score: Top 16% (High), Middle 68% (Middle), and Bottom 16% (Low). From the applicant pool, half the students are chosen by the school administration and half are selected randomly. However, students who score in the top 2% on the 7th grade English Language Arts reading exam will automatically be matched to the Ed-Opt program if they listed it as their first choice. If a child is in the top 2%, it is indicated on the application next to the reading score. This methodology applies to all Ed-Opt programs within the NYC DOE high school admissions system.[19]

The Carl Sagan Science/Math Honors Academy[edit]

The Carl Sagan Science/Math Honors Academy is a program for Queens residents or students that offers intensive honors level courses in authentic science and math research, and seminars in advanced mathematics and statistics.

The Academy of Instrumental Music/Performing Arts & The Drama Academy[edit]

The Academy of Instrumental Music/Performing Arts offers an instruction on all vocal, band and orchestra instruments, while the Drama Academy provides study in acting and theater communication. Applicants must audition to be considered.


For the Zoned program, students must apply and live in the geographic zoned area of the high school in order to receive priority. Students who list the Zoned program as their first choice in the application and live within the geographic zoned area are automatically accepted.

College readiness[edit]

For the 2022–2023 school year, FHHS offered Advanced Placement classes in Art History, Biology, Calculus AB/BCChemistryChinese Language and Culture, Computer Science AComputer Science PrinciplesEnglish Literature and CompositionEnvironmental ScienceFrench Language and CultureMacroeconomics, Physics C: MechanicsPsychologySpanish Language and CultureSpanish Literature and CultureStatisticsUS GovernmentUnited States History, and World History: Modern.[20] As a general rule, FHHS administrators require students to take AP exams during the month of May. Fee waivers are available for students who qualify for free lunch. The percentage of students who took any AP class was 25% in 2020-21.[21] The percentage of students who took any AP exam and scored a 3 or higher was 28.8% in 2012–2013.[22]

The average SAT scores were 523 in Math, 489 in Critical Reading and 492 in Writing. The average ACT scores were 25 in Math, 22 in English, 23 in Reading, and 22 in Science.[citation needed]

Extracurricular activities and clubs[edit]

The annual theater competition known as SING! pits seniors, juniors, and "sophmen" (freshmen and sophomores working together) against each other in a race to put on the best performance. Started in 1947 at Midwood High School in Brooklyn, SING! is a tradition at many New York City high schools.

At Forest Hills, folk-rock legend Paul Simon participated in SING! as a student at FHHS in the late 1950s. Leslie Urdang, now a major Hollywood producer, chaired Senior SING! in 1972. SING! is now a huge school-wide event — in 2005, nearly 500 students participated. The entire production is written, produced, directed and funded by students.

Forest Hills Comic Con The Forest Hills High School's comic book club has put on an annual "Comic Convention." It has been going on since 2016. The event is normally in May on a day in the weekend and features many different guests and artists selling autographs, doing commissions, and participating in panels. Over the past they have gotten C.J. Ramone from the Ramones, Marty Grabstein (Courage the Cowardly Dog) and Marvel Comics artist Sean Chen, as well as many more. Anyone from the public is encouraged to come and participate in the many events including karaoke, video game competitions, art, cosplay and dancing competitions, and more. The past few have been a few success, even getting coverage from the news.

Forest Hills offers a wide range of clubs and activities.


Forest Hills currently competes in the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL), and fields teams in many different sports.[24] They include:

Fall sports[25]

  • Varsity bowling (boys' and girls')
  • Cross country (boys' and girls')
  • Varsity soccer (boys' and girls')
  • Varsity and JV volleyball (girls')

Winter sports[26]

  • Varsity and JV basketball (boys')
  • Girls' varsity basketball
  • Indoor track (boys' and girls')
  • Wrestling (boys')

Spring sports[27]

  • Varsity baseball (boys)
  • Varsity softball (girls)
  • Varsity volleyball (boys)
  • Outdoor track (boys' and girls')
  • Varsity tennis (boys' and girls')
  • Varsity handball (boys' and girls')
  • Varsity lacrosse (girls)

Beginning in September 2012, in addition to the standard PSAL eligibility requirements, FHHS, with a vision of strong academic expectations, began requiring all student athletes to maintain a minimum overall GPA of 75.[28]


In June 1998, US President Bill Clinton cited FHHS's "academic and extra-curricular excellence", and it became one of only 124 "Blue Ribbon" schools nationwide. In 2000, US First Lady Hillary Clinton delivered the commencement address, per invitation of Luis Miranda and Crystel Debs.

Jacob J. ("Jack") Lew, a 1972 graduate of FHHS, was then the Clinton administration's Director of the Office of Management and Budget, having been elevated to the post two years earlier.[29]

In the 2011–2012 school year, the school was featured on CNN in a story on how large high schools can succeed. CNN interviewed the principal and produced a video about the daily routine of the school.[30]

The school was awarded its fourth consecutive "A" in a row by the NYC Department of Education, a sign of excellence awarded by the city – making it the only non-specialized school to receive such a distinction in the city.

Student body[edit]

Enrollment and demographics[edit]

According to statistics provided by the New York City Department of Education, there were 3,840 students enrolled at Forest Hills for the 2014–2015 academic year.[31]

Grade level Number of students
9th grade 997
10th grade 969
11th grade 922
12th grade 952
  • 25% identified as Asian.
  • 10% identified as Black.
  • 34% identified as Hispanic/Latino.
  • 30% identified as White.
  • 2% identified as other races.

6% of the overall student body were classified as English language learners (ELLs), and 53% were eligible for free lunch. 16% of students were with IEPs. 33% were from families deemed eligible for HRA assistance, while 3% were classified as living in temporary housing.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ new york city nyc queensares forest hills rego park 1776 chronology history gardens colonial houses revolutionary war jeff gottlieb
  2. ^ Our School Archived May 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^[bare URL]
  4. ^ "$16,505,000 ASKED FOR HIGH SCHOOLS" (PDF). The New York Times. December 4, 1937. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  5. ^ "BUILDING ACTIVE IN FOREST HILLS" (PDF). The New York Times. May 29, 1938. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  6. ^ "New High School to Overlook Fair". The New York Times. January 12, 1939. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  7. ^ "Forest Hills High Dedicated by City" (PDF). The New York Times. April 30, 1941. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  8. ^ "TEN HERE QUALIFY FOR SCIENCE FINALS" (PDF). The New York Times. February 4, 1949. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  9. ^ Stevens, William (March 10, 1968). "Forest Hills High School Makes Science History" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  10. ^ Sloane, Leonard (April 18, 1971). "Felling Sycamores to Make Way for Sewer Fought in Forest Hills" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  11. ^ "Despite Protests in Forest Hills, Housing Project Plan Proceeds" (PDF). The New York Times. May 2, 1971. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  12. ^ Currivan, Gene (August 15, 1971). "Parents Contest L.I. Zone Change" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  13. ^ Currivan, Gene (August 29, 1971). "New School Zoning For Forest Hills Affirmed by Court" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  14. ^ Maeroff, Gene (September 14, 1971). "New Queens High School Opens Despite Protests From Parents" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  15. ^ a b Roberts, Sam (August 13, 2013). "Simeon Golar, Who Fought for Public Housing, Dies at 84". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  16. ^ College Now
  17. ^ "CUNY College Now: Forest Hills High School". City University of New York. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  18. ^ "Social Studies Special Programs: Law Academy, Law and Humanities, Richard Brown Law Program". Forest Hills High School. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  19. ^ "Admissions Process – High Schools". NYC Department of Education. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
  20. ^ "Forest Hills High School (28Q440) - NYC MySchools". Retrieved January 28, 2023.
  21. ^ "New York City Department of Education". Retrieved January 28, 2023.
  22. ^ "Progress Report 2012-13 – Forest Hills High School" (PDF). Additional Information – College and Career Readiness Metrics Disaggregated: NYC Department of Education. p. 8. Retrieved November 14, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ Arista[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "School Profile: Forest Hills High School". Public Schools Athletic League. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  25. ^ "Forest Hills Sports Announcements: Fall Sports". Forest Hills High School. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  26. ^ "Forest Hills Sports Announcements: Winter Sports". Forest Hills High School. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  27. ^ "Forest Hills Sports Announcements: Spring Sports". Forest Hills High School. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  28. ^ "FHHS Sports Homepage: Attention All Athletes". Forest Hills High School. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  29. ^ "Hillary Clinton Forest Hills High School Commencement Address". Archived from the original on June 9, 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  30. ^ "Does class size matter?". CNN. December 6, 2011.
  31. ^ "School Enrollment and Demographic Data" (PDF). NYC Department of Education.
  32. ^ a b c d Barrett, William P. (March 12, 1989). "For Texas Air's top gun, the sky's the limit". St. Petersburg Times. p. 1I.
  33. ^ "Ramones Honored with Honorary Street Name in Forest Hills". October 30, 2016.
  34. ^ Leon, Melissa (December 15, 2014). "'All Good Cretins Go to Heaven': Dee Dee Ramone's Twisted Punk Paintings". The Daily Beast.
  35. ^ "R.I.P., Johnny Ramone". The Washington Times.
  36. ^ Chappell, Bill (October 30, 2016). "The Ramones Way: Street at Rockers' High School is Renamed for Band". NPR.
  37. ^ "Tommy Ramone: Last of the Punk-Rock Pioneers". July 14, 2014.
  38. ^ Genzlinger, Neil. "Fred Silverman, 82, Is Dead; a TV Force When Three Networks Ruled A top executive at CBS, ABC and then NBC, he shepherded series like All in the Family, Laverne & Shirley and Hill Street lues.", The New York Times, January 30, 2020. Accessed January 30, 2020. "Fred Silverman was born on Sept. 13, 1937, in New York City to William and Mildred Silverman and grew up in Rego Park, Queens. His father was a television and radio service man, his mother a homemaker. Fred graduated from Forest Hills High School in Queens."

External links[edit]