Columbia Secondary School for Science, Math and Engineering

Uploaded by ColumbiaNews on 29.01.2010

I'm definitely happy that I've picked Columbia Secondary School.
The teachers, they're incredible.
They're very fun, active, and they connect with the students.
The diversity is amazing here and there's no other school I know
that has diversity like we do.
It's a challenge, and I love challenges. Challenges push me to the next level,
and the next, and the next.
Columbia Secondary School's core mission is to provide the talented students from
Upper Manhattan and from the city of New York with an accelerated program in science,
math, and engineering.
Our teachers are very good. We make very good connections with them,
we can talk about anything, we can just go into their class.
So they can help us out and they do.
One of the things I love most about this school is that the staff
is on top of the kids, the kids have a great working relationship,
it's a very small school, so it really does feel like a community.
Last year for sixth grade I was with my principal and we went to Puerto
with the faculty of staff.
And the course was Biodervsity in Puerto Rico, and although it was extremely fun,
you were learning about the diversity about biological organisms
that lived in Puerto Rico.
We dropped an egg off the roof in engineering to see if it survived.
I know none of my other friends that don't go here have never dropped
an egg off a roof on a parachute and I tell them that and they're like,
oh that's so cool I wish I could do that at my school.
Dr. Maldonado was offering a course in marine biology in seventh grade
and so I took his elective and that was really fun.
We did presentations, we actually got to dissect lobsters and fish
and do all the marine biology stuff.
When my dad and I we went to the open house, we saw
their philosophy program and we thought wow, no other school has that
and we also saw how they did engineering hands-on activities
so we were like, wow, this is a really good school.
No other school has activities like this so I decided to apply
and thankfully I got in.
CSS has managed to attract a student body that's very unique: the talented Hispanic
and Afro-American kids of Upper Manhattan.
With a very early point of entry in sixth grade, most of the selective
specialized schools start in ninth grade, right, so we're allowing them to enter early
earlier and then providing them a seven-year continuous experience
rather than the norm which is that after three years in a middle school
they have to reapply again for the high school.
I live in Harlem and I thought it was perfect
because I wanted a school that started in the sixth grade 'til the twelfth grade.
I think it's very difficult for the kids when they are in eighth grade
because they're going through a lot of transformation as teenagers
to switch them again to another school.
I'm looking forward to coming to Columbia Secondary School
as a high school because I'll be taking a lot of advanced classes that nobody else
can take, and in 11th and 12th grade I can take classes at Columbia University
and that's like a head start in college.
The partnership with Columbia provides us with many, many, many benefits.
There is its symbolic elements of being associated with one
of the great universities of this nation and of this world,
then allowing us to use their name helps us incredibly.
In a cultural and symbolic sense it allows us access to other organizations
that public school would not normally have access to.
They also provide us with concrete things like access to their campus,
the use of their facilities.
Many graduate students and professors have been involved doing research projects,
doing internships, teaching courses, getting involved with the research program
that is necessary for us to fine-tune, tweak, improve, and develop our curriculum
and our school's organization.
So both on the facilities side and the human resources side,
they add enormous possibilities not normally afforded to public schools
anywhere in the world.
Being able to take creative arts, engineering, math, electives -
all those things are just gonna prepare you for life and especially for college
when we get into, you know, like, Harvard or Columbia University or Yale,
all those very high-level colleges.
We get over a thousand applicants for 96 slots in the middle school.
The total pool of fifth-grade graduates in Upper Manhattan is somewhere between six and seven thousand
students, so we're capturing about 20% of that population who, I think,
traditionally may not have applied to a school like ours are convinced
that they can and they should.
I had to convince my daughter to come to the school.
I said listen, just come here two weeks.
Go to Columbia Secondary School for two weeks.
If you don't like it, we go to the other school.
She was convinced in two days.
It feels really good to be in the first graduating class because
I'm setting the example for the other kids and I like that because some of them
might look at me as a role model since I'm in the eighth grade.
It's cool to be a good student here and my daughter is surrounded by other
peers that are reading the same books and doing the same things
and are excited and want to talk about it.
I know that whatever she's learning now is a stepping stone for the future.
When the teachers are succeeding, the school is succeeding
and the students are getting the extraordinary experience
that is what this school was planned for.