Forest Hills High School (New York)

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Forest Hills High School
FHHS Original Seal.png
67-01 110th St.
Forest Hills, Queens, New York 11375
United States
Coordinates 40°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
Type Public secondary
Motto It all begins and ends in the classroom.
Established 1937
School board New York City Department of Education
School district NYC School District 28
School number Q440
CEEB code 331935
Principal Ben Sherman
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 3,840
Color(s) Red, blue and gold
Mascot Rangers
Average SAT scores 477 Verbal
514 Math
479 Writing (2013)
Average ACT scores 23 Math
21 English
22 Reading
21 Science (2013)
Newspaper The Beacon
Yearbook Forester

Forest Hills High School (FHHS) is a high school in the Forest Hills neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens, near Rego Park. 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 the Forest Hills and Rego Park neighborhoods of Queens. However, many students come from nearby neighborhoods such as Kew Gardens, Jackson Heights, Woodside, Flushing, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Astoria, Corona, Glendale and parts of Jamaica.

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

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


View of Forest Hills High School

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 ($51,985,157 in 2012 Dollars), and was to be built of 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, where the gymnasiums and auditorium was 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 ($40,813,021.28 in 2012 Dollars). 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, in which during his speech towards the students of the newly dedicated school, he warned them of not being a quitter – a subtle reference to the dangerous events brewing in the international scene. It was most likely a "serious reflection," on what worldwide events and its impact to "American education generally." Its final version came as 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 separate, large gymnasiums for girls and boys. The auditorium was spacious, filling almost 1,200 seats (out of 3,400 students at the time). It had a commanding view of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.[7]

Almost immediately, it 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 3 Westinghouse Scholars in one year, noting the strong science program at the school, which offered courses simulating a research environment "similar to the one adult scientists work."[9]

The school was involved in a fight regarding the construction of a low-income housing project in Forest Hills, as well as 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 bitter battle waged.[13] Some parents tried to enroll their children anyway at Forest Hills, to which they were denied.[14] The proposal at the center of the entire controversy - the construction of a housing project - was so bitter that it led to accusations of name calling, racism, and anti-Semitism.[15] It was eventually citied 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 & 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, popularly known as Med-Bio), the Academy of Public Service (popularly known as APS), the Richard A. Brown Honors Law Institute (popularly 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 Courses, in collaboration with the City University of New York (CUNY). It's CUNY College Now partner schools are Queens College and LaGuardia Community College.[16]

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, the Queens District Attorney Office and also benefit from partnerships with NYU, Fordham Law School and Hughes, Hubbard and 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.[17]

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 his/her application next to the reading score. This methodology applies to all Ed-Opt programs within the NYC DOE high school admissions system.[18]

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 school also offers the Academy of Instrumental Music/Performing Arts and the Drama Academy. The Academy of Instrumental Music/Performing Arts offers an instruction on all vocal, band and orchestra instrumentswhile 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 that list the Zoned program as their first choice in the application and live within the geographic zoned area (it will indicate in the application) are automatically accepted.

College Readiness[edit]

For the 2013–2014 school year, FHHS offered Advanced Placement classes in: Art History, Biology, Calculus AB/BC, Computer Science A (frequently referred to as AP Java), Human Geography, Chinese, Physics C, Chemistry, Macroeconomics, English Literature and Composition, Environmental Science, French Language, United States Government and Politics, Psychology, Spanish Language, Spanish Literature, Statistics, United States History, and World History. As a general rule, FHHS administrators require students to take the appropriate AP exam in the course in which they've enrolled during the month of May. Fee Waivers are available for students who qualify for free lunch. The percentage of students who took any AP exam and scored a 3 or higher was at 28.8%.[19]

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.

Extracurricular Activities/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 has a wide range of clubs and activities students can participate in, and are listed below.

In the new 2007–2008 school year, a new COSA (Coordinator of Student Affairs) and new student body president have been working together with the objective of improving student life and giving Forest Hills a new aura.


Forest Hills currently competes in the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL), and fields a wide number of teams in many different sports.[20] They include:

Fall Sports[21]

  • Varsity Bowling (Boys and Girls)
  • Cross Country (Boys and Girls)
  • Varsity Soccer (Boys and Girls)
  • Varsity and JV Volleyball (Girls)

Winter Sports[22]

  • Varsity and JV Basketball (Boys)
  • Girls’ Varsity Basketball
  • Indoor Track (Boys and Girls)
  • Wrestling (Boys)

Spring Sports[23]

  • 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.[24]


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. Hillary Clinton Forest Hills High School Commencement Address

In the 2011–2012 school year, the school was featured on CNN on how large high schools can succeed, interviewing the principal and taping a video about the daily routine of the school.[25] It 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 provide by the New York City Department of Education, there were 3,840 students enrolled at Forest Hills for the 2014-2015 academic year.[26]

Grade Level Number of Students
9th Grade 997
10th Grade 969
11th Grade 922
12th Grade 952

Out of those students...

  • 25% identified as Asian
  • 10% identified as Black
  • 34% identified as Hispanic/Latino
  • 30% identified as White
  • 2% identified as Other

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 IEP's. 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
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "$16,505,000 ASKED FOR HIGH SCHOOLS". The New York Times. December 4, 1937. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  5. ^ "BUILDING ACTIVE IN FOREST HILLS". 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". The New York Times. April 30, 1941. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  8. ^ "TEN HERE QUALIFY FOR SCIENCE FINALS". The New York Times. February 4, 1949. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  9. ^ Stevens, William (March 10, 1968). "Forest Hills High School Makes Science History". 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". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Despite Protests in Forest Hills, Housing Project Plan Proceeds". The New York Times. May 2, 1971. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  12. ^ CURRIVAN, GENE (August 15, 1971). "PARENTS CONTEST L.I. ZONE CHANGE". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  13. ^ CURRIVAN, GENE (August 29, 1971). "New School Zoning For Forest Hills Affirmed by Court". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  14. ^ MAEROFF, GENE (September 14, 1971). "New Queens High School Opens Despite Protests From Parents". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Roberts, Sam (2013-08-13). "Simeon Golar, Who Fought for Public Housing, Dies at 84". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-06-29. 
  16. ^ "CUNY College Now: Forest Hills High School". City University of New York. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Social Studies Special Programs: Law Academy, Law and Humanities, Richard Brown Law Program". Forest Hills High School. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Admissions Process – High Schools". NYC Department of Education. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  19. ^ "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. 
  20. ^ "School Profile: Forest Hills High School". Public Schools Athletic League. Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Forest Hills Sports Announcements: Fall Sports". Forest Hills High School. Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Forest Hills Sports Announcements: Winter Sports". Forest Hills High School. Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Forest Hills Sports Announcements: Spring Sports". Forest Hills High School. Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  24. ^ "FHHS Sports Homepage: Attention All Athletes". Forest Hills High School. Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Does class size matter?". CNN. December 6, 2011. 
  26. ^ "School Enrollment and Demographic Data" (PDF). NYC Department of Education. 
  27. ^ a b c Barrett, William P. (March 12, 1989). "For Texas Air's top gun, the sky's the limit". St. Petersburg Times. p. 1I. 

External links[edit]