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Brooklyn Technical High School

Brooklyn Technical High School, commonly referred to as Brooklyn Tech and administratively designated as High School 430, is an elite New York City public high school that specializes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It is one of three original specialized high schools operated by the New York City Department of Education, the other two being Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science. Brooklyn Tech is considered one of the most prestigious and selective public high schools in the United States.[4][5]

Brooklyn Technical High School
Bthslogo.JPG
Address
29 Fort Greene Place

,
11217

United States
Coordinates40°41′20″N 73°58′37″W / 40.68889°N 73.97694°W / 40.68889; -73.97694Coordinates: 40°41′20″N 73°58′37″W / 40.68889°N 73.97694°W / 40.68889; -73.97694
Information
TypePublic, Magnet, Specialized
Established1922; 97 years ago (1922)
FounderDr. Albert L. Colston
School boardNew York City Public Schools
School number430
PrincipalDavid Newman
Faculty283 full-time, 313 total[1]
Grades912
Enrollment6,046[2]
Color(s)Navy blue and white         
Athletics conferencePSAL
NicknameBrooklyn Tech, BTHS, Tech
Team nameEngineers
NewspaperThe Survey (official) / BTHSnews (student) [3] / The Radish (student, satirical)
YearbookThe Blueprint
AdmissionsCompetitive Examination
Website

Admission to Brooklyn Tech involves passing the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. Each November, about 30,000 eighth and ninth graders take the 3-hour test for admittance to eight of the nine specialized high schools. Approximately 1,900 to 1,950 students are admitted each year.

Brooklyn Tech counts top scientists, inventors, innovators, CEOs and founders of Fortune 500 companies, high-ranking diplomats, scholars in academia, literary and media figures, professional athletes, National Medal recipients, Nobel laureates, and Olympic medalists among its alumni.

OverviewEdit

AdmissionEdit

Admission to Brooklyn Tech is based exclusively on an entrance examination, known as the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT), open to all eighth and first-time ninth grade New York City students. The test covers math (word problems and computation) and verbal (reading comprehension and grammar skills). Out of the approximately 30,000 students taking the SHSAT for the September 2011 admission round, with 23,085 students listing Brooklyn Tech as a choice on their application, about 1,951 offers were made (the most out of any of the specialized high schools, partly due to the size of BTHS).[6][7]

Graduation requirementsEdit

Beginning with the class of 2010, each student must meet the following requirements by the end of their senior year to receive a Brooklyn Technical High School diploma:[citation needed]

I. A minimum of 50 hours of community service outside of the school or through specified club activities.

II. A minimum of 32 service credits earned through participation in Tech clubs, teams, and/or participation in designated school related events.

Service credits are earned as follows:
1. 8 service credits per term to all students in BETA, NHS, Student Government, student productions, stageworks, cheerleading, and PSAL teams.
2. 6 service credits per term to all students working in office squads, participating in student leadership, Model UN, or compete in non-PSAL teams.
3. 4 service credits per term to all students who participate in all other clubs not referred to above.
4. 2 service credits for participation in specified school events.

ReputationEdit

Brooklyn Tech is one of the most elite, prestigious and selective high schools in the United States.[4][5] Together with Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science, it is one of the three original Specialized High Schools of New York City, operated by the New York City Department of Education, all three of which were cited by The Washington Post in 2006 as among the best magnet schools in the United States (a category the school is often placed in, though its founding pre-dates the concept of "magnet school" and whose intended purpose was not the same).[8] Admission is by competitive examination. However, as a public school, there is no tuition fee, but only students who reside in New York City are allowed to attend as per the Hecht-Calandra Act.[a]

Brooklyn Tech appears as #63 in the 2010 ranking of the annual U.S. News & World Report "Best High Schools" list.[9] Newsweek in 2008 listed Brooklyn Tech among five public high schools that were not in the magazine's 13 "Public Elite" ranking, explaining, "Newsweek 's Challenge Index is designed to recognize schools that challenge average students, and not magnet or charter schools that draw only the best students in their areas. These [...] were excluded from the list of top high schools because [...] their sky-high SAT and ACT scores indicate they have few or no average students".[10] In 2014 the Brooklyn Tech FIRST robotics team (The TechKnights - Team 334) won the New York Regional Tournament (as well as the Creativity award).[11] In the 2014 U.S. News ranking, Brooklyn Tech was top 10 in all of New York State as well as 60th in the entire nation.[12]

Brooklyn Tech is a founding member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology. Routinely, more than 98% of its graduates are accepted to four-year colleges[13] with the 2007 graduating class being offered more than $1.25 million in scholarships and grants.[14] It appears as #63 in the 2009 ranking of the annual U.S. News & World Report "Best High Schools" list.[9] In 2011, Brooklyn Tech was ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 50 of the nation's Best High Schools for Mathematics and Science.[15] Brooklyn Tech was ranked #2 in Niche's "Standout High Schools in America" list.[16]

HistoryEdit

In 1918, Dr. Albert L. Colston, chair of the Math Department at Manual Training High School, recommended establishing a technical high school for Brooklyn boys. His plan envisioned a heavy concentration of math, science, and drafting courses with parallel paths leading either to college or to a technical career in industry. By 1922, Dr. Colston's concept was approved by the Board of Education, and Brooklyn Technical High School opened in a converted warehouse at 49 Flatbush Avenue Extension, with 2,400 students. This location, in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, is the reason the school seal bears that bridge's image, rather than the more obvious symbol for the borough, the Brooklyn Bridge. Brooklyn Tech would occupy one more location before settling into its site at 29 Fort Greene Place, for which the groundbreaking was held in 1930.[17]

Early yearsEdit

Atypical for American high schools, Brooklyn Tech uses a system of college-style majors. The curriculum consists of two years of general studies with a technical and engineering emphasis, followed by two years of a student-chosen major.

The curriculum remained largely unchanged until the end of Dr. Colston's 20-year term as principal in 1942. Upon his retirement, Tech was led briefly by acting principal Ralph Breiling, who was succeeded by Principal Harold Taylor in 1944. Tech's modernization would come under Principal William Pabst, who assumed stewardship in 1946 after serving as chair of the Electrical Department. Pabst created new majors and refined older ones, allowing students to select science and engineering preparatory majors including Aeronautical, Architecture, Chemical, Civil, Electrical (later including Electronics and Broadcast), Industrial Design, Mechanical, Structural, and Arts and Sciences. A general College Preparatory curriculum was added later.

Principal Pabst retired in 1964. A railroad club was established by the late Vincent Gorman, a social studies teacher, and students attended fan trips, tours of rail repair facilities and participated in the restoration of steam engine #103 and a historic rail passenger car at the former Empire State Railroad Museum. In August 1965, a ten-year-old boy named Carl Johnson drowned in the swimming pool at Brooklyn Tech while swimming with his day-camp group.[citation needed] The next year, more than 30 graduating Seniors in the school (including many student leaders) complained that Tech's curriculum was old and outdated. Their primary complaint was that the curriculum was geared toward the small minority of students who were not planning on attending college.[citation needed] In 1967 the schools of New York City got to view television in the classrooms for the first time, thanks to the station WNYE-TV, then located in the transmitter center on top of Brooklyn Tech.

For the school year beginning in the last half of 1970, young women began attending;[18] all three NYC specialized and test-required science high schools were now coeducational.

Incorporation into Specialized High School system and later yearsEdit

In 1972, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science, Stuyvesant High School, and High School for Performing Arts become incorporated by the New York State Legislature as specialized high schools of New York City. The act called for a uniform exam to be administered for admission to Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science, and Stuyvesant. The exam would become known as the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) and tested students in math and English. With its statewide recognition, the school had to become co-educational.

In 1973, Tech celebrated its 50th anniversary with a dinner-dance at the Waldorf Astoria. To further commemorate the anniversary, a monument was erected, with a time capsule beneath it, in the north courtyard. The monument has eight panels, each with a unique design representing each of Tech's eight majors at that point.[citation needed]

In 1983, Matt Mandery's appointment as principal made him the first Tech alumnus to hold that position.[19] The following year, Tech received the Excellence in Education award from the U.S. Department of Education.[citation needed] The Alumni Association was formally created during this time,[19] and coalitions were formed with the New York City Department of Transportation.[citation needed] Mandery oversaw the addition of a Bio-Medical major to the curriculum. John Tobin followed as principal in 1987, abolished the Materials Science department, and closed the seventh-floor foundry.[citation needed]

In the mid-1980s, a violent street gang known as the Decepticons were founded at Brooklyn Tech.[20][21] As well, in 2000, the city issued a special report concerning the lack of notification to law enforcement during a string of robberies within the high school, including armed robbery with knives and stun guns.[22]

Recent yearsEdit

In March 1998, an alumni group led by Leonard Riggio, class of 1958, announced plans for a fund-raising campaign to raise $10 million to support their alma mater financially through facilities upgrades, the establishment of curriculum enhancements, faculty training, and a university-type endowment.[23] The endowment fundraiser, the first of its kind for an American public school, received front-page attention in The New York Times and sparked a friendly competition amongst the specialized high schools, with both Bronx Science and Stuyvesant announcing their own $10 million campaigns within weeks of the Brooklyn Tech announcement. In November 2005, the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Association announced the completion of the fundraising phase of what they had termed the Campaign for Brooklyn Tech.[24] In April 2008, the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation launched a second endowment campaign.[25]

Sixteen alumni died in the September 11 attacks in 2001. They are Dennis Cross '59, Ronald F. Orsini '60, Joel Miller '63, Sheldon R. Kanter '66, Stephen Johnson '75, Danny Libretti '76, Dominick E. Calia '79, Dipti Patel '81, Andre Fletcher '82, Courtney W. Walcott '82, Gerard Jean Baptiste '83, Wai C. Chung '84, Paul Innella '85, Michael McDonnell '85, Thomas Tong '87, and Paul Ortiz '98.[26]

Since 2001, Brooklyn Tech has undergone such refurbishing as the renovation of the school's William L. Mack Library entrance, located on the fifth-floor center section. As well, two computer labs were added. The school also reinstated a class devoted to the study of Shakespeare, which students can elect to take in their senior year.

Lee McCaskillEdit

Dr. Lee D. McCaskill, the appointed principal in 1992, served for 14 years, during which Tech saw the installation of more computer classrooms and the switch from the traditional mechanical drawing by hand to teaching the use of computer-aided design programs. McCaskill also presided over the elimination of long-standing hallmark academic concentrations at Tech such as aerospace engineering.

In 2000, the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the NYC School District wrote a report condemning Brooklyn Technical High School administrators for failing to report several armed robberies that took place in the bathrooms and stairwells.[27]

In 2003, The New York Times published an investigative article that noted "longstanding tensions" between the faculty and Principal McCaskill, "spilled into the open in October, with news reports that several teachers accused him of repeatedly sending sexually explicit e-mail messages from his school computer to staff members." While the article praised him for his addition of music and sports programs, it mostly described the principal as autocratic, controlling the school "largely through fear and intimidation," and documented acts of personal vindictiveness toward teachers; severe censorship of the student newspaper and of assigned English texts, including the refusal to let the Pulitzer Prize-finalist novel Continental Drift by Russell Banks be used for a class; and of bureaucratic mismanagement.[28] A follow-up column in 2004 found that there was increased teacher exodus, specifically documenting Principal McCaskill's campaign against Alice Alcala, who described as one of the city's leading Shakespeare teachers. Alcala had won Brooklyn Tech a $10,000 grant and brought in the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain for student workshops, but after Alcala had done so, McCaskill repeatedly denied her access to the auditorium and gave her low performance rankings. Shortly after, Alcala left for Manhattan's Murry Bergtraum High School, where she brought in $1,800 in grants for Shakespeare education; meanwhile, at Brooklyn Tech, there was no longer any course solely devoted to Shakespeare, according to the column.[29]

In two newspaper articles in 2005, it was revealed that a $10,000 grant obtained by Dr. Sylvia Weinberger in 2001 to refurbish the obsolete radio room remained unused. New classroom computers were covered in plastic rather than installed because the classrooms had yet to be wired for them.[30][31]

The Office of Special Investigations of the New York City Department of Education launched an investigation of McCaskill on February 2, 2006, concerning unpaid enrollment of New Jersey resident McCaskill's daughter in a New York City public school, which is illegal for non-residents of the city. Dr. McCaskill produced a lease claiming that he rented an apartment in Brooklyn, but the copyright date on the lease was after the date the lease had been signed.[32] On February 6, McCaskill announced his resignation from Brooklyn Tech and agreed to pay $19,441 in restitution.[citation needed] After retiring from Brooklyn Tech, McCaskill became principal of Hillside High School in New Jersey, where in 2013, he resigned following accusations he spanked a female student.[33]

Special commissioner Richard J. Condon rebuked the Department of Education a week later for allowing McCaskill to retire, still collecting $125,282 in accrued vacation time, just days before the OSI completed its investigation. Condon also recommended that Cathy Furman McCaskill, the principal's wife, be dismissed from her position as a teacher at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn for her part in submitting fake leases and other fraudulent documents to indicate the family lived in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn.[34][35] The next day, the Department of Education announced that it would fire her.[36]

Randy AsherEdit

On February 7, 2006, the Department of Education named Randy Asher, founding principal of the High School for Math, Science and Engineering (HSMSE), as interim acting principal.[37] Asher had previously served as Brooklyn Tech's assistant principal in mathematics from 2000–2002 before leaving to become founding principal of High School for Math, Science and Engineering. During his time as principal, the total student enrollment increased from 4,200 to 5,700.[38] In the beginning of January 2017, Asher abruptly left Tech to take on a new position as an NYC Education Department senior advisor to help reduce the Absent Teacher Reserve.[38] Throughout Asher's tenure, the school's reputation was sullied by several allegations of sexual harassment and assault of students by faculty members, resulting in the termination of Sean Shaynak (an aerospace engineering teacher hired by Asher) and the reassignment of English teacher and school newspaper advisor David Lo.[39][40] Music teacher Marisa Cazanave abruptly resigned in the fall of 2016 when faced with charges of having an inappropriate relationship with a male student.[41] The school was also rocked by allegations of racism against blacks and Asher faced mounting student pressure on social media to fix the situation.[42] Following Asher's departure, former assistant principal David Newman took on the new position as acting principal of the specialized high school.

Building and facilitiesEdit

 
Brooklyn Tech as seen from Ashland Place in Fort Greene
 
Brooklyn Tech as seen from the corner of DeKalb Avenue and Fort Greene Place
 
The WNYE-FM transmitting tower atop the school

The school, built on its present site from 1930-33 at a cost of $6 million, is 12 stories high, and covers over half a city block. Brooklyn Technical High School is directly across the street from Fort Greene Park. Facilities at BTHS include:

  • Gymnasia on the first and eighth floors, with a mezzanine running track above the larger first floor gym and a weight room on the third floor boys locker room. The eighth floor gym had a bowling alley lane and an adjacent wire-mesh enclosed rooftop sometimes used for handball and for tennis practice.
  • 25-yard swimming pool in the basement
  • Wood, machine, sheet metal and other specialized shops. A program involves a shop where an actual house is built and framed by students. Most have been converted into normal classrooms or computer labs, except for a few robotics shops, such as the Ike Heller Computer Integrated Manufacturing and Robotics Center.
  • A three-floor tall Foundry with entrances on the fifth and seventh floor, with a floor of molding sand used for creating sand casting molds and equipped with furnaces, kilns, ovens and ancillary equipment for metal smelting. Students made wooden patterns in pattern making which were used to make sand molds which were cast in the foundry and machined to specification in the machine shops. It was closed during the 1990s.[citation needed] The foundry complemented a mandatory course titled "Industrial Processes" which emphasized metallurgy and how industry functions. The Foundry has since become defunct.
  • Materials testing lab, used during the basic materials science (Strength of Materials) class. Included industrial capacity Universal Testing Machine and brinell hardness tester and polishing and microscopic examination rooms. During the 1960s, students attended "inspection training shop" and were taught to use X-ray analysis to detect metal fatigue failures, use of vernier measuring instruments, micrometers, and go-no-go gauges.
  • Aeronautical lab, featuring a large wind tunnel, During the 1960s, a T-6 Texan U.S. Air Force surplus aircraft in the building was used for student aeronautical mechanic instruction.
  • Radio studio and 18,000 watt transmitter licensed by the Federal Communications Commission as WNYE (FM). The studio has not been used since the 1980s.
  • 3,100-seat auditorium, with two balconies — 4th largest auditorium in New York City[43]
  • Recital hall on the ninth floor
  • Drafting, both pencil and ink technical drawing and freehand drawing rooms
  • Library with defunct fireplaces
  • Football field on Fulton and Clermont Streets. The Football Field, named in honor of Brooklyn Tech Alumnus Charles Wang, was opened in 2001, with the home opener played October 6, 2001, against DeWitt Clinton High School.[44]
  • Access to Fort Greene Park for outdoor track, tennis, etc.
  • Mock courtroom for use by the Law & Society major and the Mock Trial Team.
  • The WNYE-FM tower atop the school is three times taller than the building. The entire structure combined is 597 feet (181.96 meters) tall.[45] It was the tallest structure in Brooklyn, beating out AVA DoBro by only one foot, but beaten in 2017 with the completion of The Hub, which is 13 feet taller.
  • In 1934, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), which later became the Works Projects Administration (WPA), commissioned artist Maxwell B. Starr to paint a mural in the foyer depicting the evolution of man and science throughout history.

TransportationEdit

The New York City Subway's Fulton Street (G train) and Lafayette Avenue (C train) stations are located nearby, as well as more BMT and IRT services at DeKalb Avenue and Atlantic Terminal, which also serves the Long Island Rail Road.[46] Additionally, New York City Bus's B25, B26, B38 and B52 routes stop near Brooklyn Tech.[47] Students residing a certain distance from the school are provided full-fare or half-fare student MetroCards for public transportation on their first day of school at BTHS, as well as the first day of each school term onward.[48]

In popular cultureEdit

The Brooklyn Tech Cheerleading Squad appeared in the 1988 Spike Lee film School Daze,[49] and a video for the movie, entitled "Da Butt", was shot at Brooklyn Tech.[49][50]

Lee also used the first floor gymnasium as a shooting location for Jesus Shuttlesworth's, played by Ray Allen, Sportscenter preview in He Got Game.[citation needed].

Brooklyn Tech was also used to film the hit FOX series “Gotham”.[51]

AcademicsEdit

Brooklyn Tech uses a college-style system of majors, unusual for an American high school. Below is the list of majors at Brooklyn Tech.[52]

Students are placed into a major during the second semester of their sophomore year after ranking all the majors in order of preference. These majors include courses, typically Advanced Placement or Project Lead the Way (PLTW) courses, that concentrate in that specific area of interest given to students during their last two years at Tech. Each major has a different formula (PI index) used to rank students according to their ranking preference of the majors and their current averages from freshman and sophomore year. A student with a higher PI index for their second preference if they did not get into their first, will get priority over another student with a lower average on the same major preference.[53]

Extracurricular activitiesEdit

Brooklyn Tech fields 30 junior-varsity and varsity teams in the Public School Athletic League (PSAL). The school's historic team name has been the Engineers. The school colors are navy blue and white. The school's more than 100 organizations include the Brooklyn Tech Amateur Radio Club (club station call sign W2CXN), Civil Air Patrol Brooklyn Tech Cadet Squadron, chess,[54] debate, football, wrestling, forensics (speech), hockey, mock trial, robotics, and rowing[55] teams and clubs, and a news website, BTHSNews.org.[3] Tech has a literary art journal, Horizons, for those who want to express themselves through art, poetry, photography, and prose.[56] The Model United Nations provides students with a venue for discussing foreign affairs and also hosts a conference each year called TechMUN. [57] [56] Other clubs cater to a wide range of topics such as anime, the Stock Market, Dance Dance Revolution, ultimate Frisbee, politics, quilting, fashion, debate (which offers both Lincoln, Douglas And Policy), table tennis and animal rights. The cheerleading squad is named the Enginettes. In 2012, Tech students created a Junior State of America Chapter at their school.[56] Brooklyn Tech has its own student union, to address issues on a student level. Tech has a variety of community service clubs, such as Key Club, Red Cross Club, and BETA.[56] Tech students put on a musical each spring.[56]

There are two step teams, Lady Dragons and Organized C.H.A.O.S.[56]

The school has several Coordinator of Student Activities (COSA) for each grade.[58]

Notable alumniEdit

A list of notable alumni of Brooklyn Technical High School is listed below. Brooklyn Technical High School also has a unique Hall of Fame, which lists alumni who have contributed significantly to STEM.[59] Such alumni are noted below.

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Three new schools were added to that list in the mid-2000s: the High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College, the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, and the Queens High School for the Sciences at York College. However, these were not afforded Specialized High Schools status under New York State Law.

ReferencesEdit

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