Michael J. Petrides School
The Michael J. Petrides School is located on 715 Ocean Terrace in Staten Island, New York. It was created by Board of Education officials, and named after Michael J. Petrides. It opened in 1995. The school was created on the former College of Staten Island campus. Students apply to attend the school through a lottery system. However, 8th graders going into high school, who are in the top 2% scoring people for the ELA 7th grade test can get auto-admission if they put Petrides first on their application. Its current principal is Joanne Buckheit.
Petrides educates students from Kindergarten through 12th, or senior year in high school. It has an assistant principal for each grade category (early childhood, elementary, middle school, high school). They are:
- Danielle Bennett - Elementary School (Grades K - 5)
- BettyAnn Souffrin - Middle School (Grades 6-8)
- Anthony Tabbitas - High School (Grades 9-12)
The Petrides School, like many other New York City public schools, also has paraprofessionals, speech therapists, occupational and physical therapists, lunch deans, school aides, and a widely used bus transportation system.
"Set on the grassy, expansive campus of what once was the College of Staten Island, PS 80, the Michael J. Petrides School, enjoys college-level resources like studios, labs, lecture halls, and performance spaces while serving students from kindergarten through high-school graduation. The school opened in 1995, had its first graduating class in 2001, and has graduated its first group to complete all 13 years of schooling in 2008.
The school enrolls about 90-100 pupils per grade from kindergarten through middle school and about 125 per grade in high school, a small enough size that teachers and staff get to know students and families well. In fact, that intimacy is central to Petrides' success, according to Principal Joanne Buckheit. "We get to know our kids and meet their needs," she says, notable in a school that doesn't select applicants for aptitude or achievement. Getting in in the first place may be the toughest challenge: Close to 1,000 students apply for about 75-90 kindergarten seats, and the school receives more than 1,200 applications for the 40 to 50 seats that open in 9th grade.
Teachers work at every academic level, from the youngest grades through high school, and the "seamless" curriculum promises a smooth progression from year to year, with ample opportunity for arts, music, Advanced Placement classes, and electives. Students in grades 6 through 12 are assigned personal laptops and may also take advantage of a wealth of technology resources in the school.
The teaching we saw during our visit was solid and often dynamic. In some classrooms, lessons engaged and energized the students; in a 6th-grade science lesson, for example, a student told us, "we get to be like doctors." Others were compelling, if slightly less controlled, like the woodshop lesson where a couple of fashion-savvy middle-schoolers rejected their safety goggles as uncool.
Although the school describes itself as experimental, on the day we visited we saw, in addition to progressive styles of teaching, some fairly traditional approaches, especially in the high school. A few outstanding teachers clearly make Petrides more than an average school. They enthusiastically challenge their students, whether in a freewheeling discussion of small-town life as portrayed in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird or in a math project that has 4th graders working on student-designed, jigsawed math puzzles.
With hallways named with street signs for famous artists, architects, and inventors; consistently high test scores; and strong, multi-year parent involvement, Petrides feels like its own community. It's a comfortable, comforting place, a sensibility that carries over into college admissions, with students encouraged to explore area colleges (but not pushed toward top-flight Ivy League schools or highly competitive private schools).
Kids we talked to said they felt like they really belonged; many play on multiple teams, are involved in the various clubs and extracurricular activities offered, and expressed real affection for the school, citing a close-knit family feeling. High-school students have the opportunity to travel overseas; in the summer of 2006, students of Italian and Spanish with grades of 90 or better took a school trip to Italy. The cost, $2,700, was borne by parents. Other destinations have included Hungary and Austria, and states including Vermont, Michigan, and Hawaii. Fundraisers are also held to help finance the high school's annual trip through Habitat for Humanity. In addition, high school students can work with younger students in the elementary school, as classroom student mentors.
"All classes contain a mix of students of different abilities. District 75, which enrolls children with severe disabilities, has a separate program at the Petrides complex, as part of PS 37."
"Admissions are by lottery for grades K-8. For kindergarten, the school typically receives more than 800 applications for 75-90 seats, of which 15 are reserved for siblings of current students (separate lottery). The handful of open seats in the upper grades are filled by lottery, too. In 9th grade, class sizes get larger and an extra class is added to the grade. Thousands of students apply for a total of 40 to 55 new seats. These seats are filled through the city's "educational option" formula, designed to achieve a mix of low-, average- and high-performing students. (Helen Zelon, October 2006. This school is featured in New York City's Best Public Elementary Schools and NYC's Best Public High Schools: A Parent's Guide.)"
The Petrides School has been known for a reputation of smart and talented students who head off into colleges and universities. An average of 91 students graduate each year with a graduation percentage of 99%. It is also known for offering high-school level courses while students are still in middle school, hence offering more Advanced Placement courses for more students than some other schools. Another attribute of the Petrides School that helps lead to possible success is the small amounts of students per grade (an average of 100,) allowing for personal and supportive relationships to occur between teacher and student.
Within the past, there had been certain discrepancies according to the school's enrollment policy under the past principal. This was highlighted by a noticeable prevalence to kin relations within the student body and noted recommendations within an alleged random basis lottery system for enrollment. These were recorded in a 1998 investigation report. The report also recorded the absence of critical records that would determine the extent of the irregularities.
"...our investigation found that the Petrides School’s admission process was neither random nor fair. From the records we found and interviews we conducted, we have determined that school officials created at least five admission channels unrelated to geographic, gender, ethnic, or academic diversity. These channels bore little or no relation to the random lottery method, and were not revealed to the public. Additionally, critical records disappeared: there are no random number lists and hundreds of student applications are missing. This prevented us from discovering the full extent of the enrollment irregularities. But to varying degrees, the admission channels are clearly discernible from the evidence." — Broken Promise, 1998
The entire report can be read on the external link below.
Extracurricular Activities, Clubs, and Athletics
- National Honor Society
- Key Club
- Student Government
- Council For Unity
- Petrides' Thespian Society
- Petrides' Musician Society
- Petrides Against Cancer Society (PACS)
- Ping Pong Club
- Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (AFJROTC)(Canceled)
- Petrides Anime Club
- Habitat for Humanity
- Cross-Country Track
- Indoor Track
- Outdoor Track
Pre-High School Athletics
With the middle school integrated into the high school
There are Elementary and Middle School level Swim Team (K-8) and Soccer Club, that competes with the New York City borough's Catholic School teams. Middle school basketball competes in the SI Elementary School League. A small wrestling program for middle school exists.
Boys' Wrestling Team
Girls' Bowling Team
Boys' Golf Team
- Broken Promise: An Investigation into the Admission Process for the Michael J. Petrides School (March 1998)