Hunter College High School

Hunter College High School is a public academic magnet secondary school located in the Carnegie Hill section of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It is administered and funded by Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY) and no tuition is charged. According to Hunter, its 1,200 “students represent the top one-quarter of 1% of students in New York City, based on test scores."[1]

Hunter College High School
Hunter College High School in Manhattan
Hunter College High School from Park Ave (2019)
71 East 94th Street


United States
TypePublic, Selective Magnet
MottoMihi Cura Futuri
(The care of the future is mine.)
OversightHunter College
PrincipalTony Fisher
DirectorLisa Siegmann
Enrollmentapprox. 1,200[1]
Student to teacher ratio13:1[1]
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)Home:Purple  , Gold   Away: Black  
Athletics conferencePSAL
Team nameHawks
NewspaperWhat's What, The Observer
Feeder schoolsHunter College Elementary

Hunter has been ranked as the top public high school in the United States by both The Wall Street Journal and Worth.[2][3][4] The New York Times called Hunter "the prestigious Upper East Side school known for its Ivy League-bound students" and "the fast track to law, medicine and academia."[5]

History edit

Hunter was established in 1869 as "The Female Normal and High School", a private school to prepare young women to become teachers. The original school was composed of an elementary and a high school. A kindergarten was added in 1887, and in 1888, the school was incorporated into a college. The high school was separated from what would become Hunter College in 1903. In 1914, both schools were named after the Female Normal School's first president, Thomas Hunter.[6] The school was almost closed by Hunter College President Jacqueline Wexler in the early 1970s.[citation needed]

Hunter was an all-girls school for its first 105 years, with the official name "Hunter College High School for Intellectually Gifted Young Ladies". The prototypical Hunter girl was the subject of the song Sarah Maria Jones, who, the lyrics told, had "Hunter in her bones." In 1878, Harper's Magazine published an approving article about the then-new school:

The first thing to excite our wonder and admiration was the number – there were 1,542 pupils; the second thing was the earnestness of the discipline; and the third was the suggestiveness of so many girls at work in assembly, with their own education as the primary aim, and the education of countless thousands of others as the final aim, of their toil.

Girls all the way from fourteen to twenty years of age, from the farther edge of childhood to the farther limit of maidenhood; girls with every shade of complexion and degree of beauty; girls in such variety that it was amazing to contemplate the reduction of their individuality to the simple uniformity of their well-drilled movements. The catholicity and toleration crystallized in the country's Constitution prevail in the college: about two hundred of the students are Jewesses, and a black face, framed in curly African hair, may occasionally be seen.

The aim of the entire course through which the Normal students pass is not so much to burden the mind with facts as it is to develop intellectual power, cultivate judgment, and enable the graduates to take trained ability into the world with them.

The school began admitting boys in 1974 as a result of a lawsuit by Hunter College Elementary School parents, a development which was described in the New York Daily News with the headline "Girlie High Gets 1st Freshboys." In January 1982, the school was featured in a New York Magazine article entitled "The Joyful Elite."[7] Hunter was the subject of the 1992 book Hunter College Campus Schools for the Gifted: The Challenge of Equity and Excellence published by Teachers' College Press.[8]

The high school has occupied a number of buildings throughout its history, including one at the East 68th Street campus of the college (1940–1970). For several years in the 1970s, it was housed on the 13th and 14th floors of an office building at 466 Lexington Avenue (at East 46th Street), the current location of what is now known as the Park Avenue Atrium. Since 1977, it has existed at the former site of the Madison Avenue Armory at East 94th Street between Park and Madison Avenues on the Upper East Side. Although most of the armory building was demolished, the armory's facade, including two empty towers, was left partly standing on Madison Avenue. The school building itself, which faces Park Avenue, was constructed to resemble the armory. Because of its unusual design, including many classrooms without windows and the rest with only narrow windows, Hunter is called "The Brick Prison."[9] [10][11] The building contains both the high school (grades 7–12) and the elementary school (K-6), which are collectively known as the Hunter College Campus Schools.

Tony Fisher is the principal of the high school. Dawn Roy is the principal of the elementary school, and Lisa Siegmann is the Director of the Campus Schools. Jacqueline Zenon is the assistant principal for grades 7–9, while Maysa Perez Antonio is the assistant principal for grades 10–12.[12]

Admissions edit

Admission to Hunter College High School is exceptionally selective, only being open to seventh-grade students, with the admission process consisting of two steps. Students from the five boroughs of New York City with high scores on standardized tests are eligible to take the entrance exam during their sixth-grade school year. To qualify, public school students must score in the 90th percentile or above on both the New York State reading and math tests, while private and parochial school students must score in the 90th percentile or above (in both reading and math) compared to all private school students nationwide.[13] This results in approximately 2,500– or less than 4%— of New York City's 65,000 fifth graders being eligible to take the test. From those, around 182 to 185 students are offered admission, representing "the top one-quarter of 1% of students in New York City, based on test scores."[1]

The only other pathway to the High School is through the elementary school, to which 50 students are admitted to kindergarten after taking an IQ test and being interviewed. The kindergarten admission process is the sole entrance route to the elementary school. Approximately 45 students from Hunter College Elementary School enter the seventh-grade class each year.[1] Starting from the 2010–2011 school year, elementary school students must demonstrate "satisfactory progress" by fifth grade in order to gain admission to the high school,[14] whereas previously, they were guaranteed admission.

In total, an entering 7th grade class contains approximately 225 students, known as "Hunterites," about 200 of whom will graduate from the school. Those who leave go to other magnet schools, private schools, local public schools or leave the city. The total enrollment from grades 7 through 12 is approximately 1,200 students.[1]

Concerns about admission policies edit

Author and alumnus Chris Hayes stated in Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy that the school's sole reliance on the one test for admissions reproduces societal inequalities; that students whose families cannot afford intensive test prep courses are less likely to earn competitive scores on the entrance exam. In recent years underrepresentation of African-Americans among students admitted to the school, compared to their numbers in the public school system, has increased. Hayes quotes Hunter College High School's 2010 graduate Justin Hudson's commencement speech:

If you truly believe that the demographics of Hunter represent the distribution of intelligence in this city then you must believe that the Upper West Side, Bayside and Flushing are intrinsically more intelligent than the South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Washington Heights, and I refuse to accept that.[15]

Because of its relatively small size, and because the school is run by Hunter College rather than by the city's education department, Hunter has largely avoided being caught up in the debate over diversity at the specialized high schools in New York City. However, some alumni, students, and alumni expressed concern about the lack of diversity at the school where only 6.3 percent of the student body is Hispanic and 2.2 percent African-American (67% of NYC public school children are black or Hispanic).[16] On the other hand, while Asians make up 16.2% of NYC public-school children, they make up 49.4% of the student body at the school, based on NYC department of education data.[17][18]

Academics edit

In light of Hunter's academic excellence, The Wall Street Journal ranked it as the top public school in the United States and noted that it is a feeder to Ivy League and other elite colleges.[2][19] Worth likewise ranked Hunter as the top public school in the country.[4] The New York Times called Hunter "the prestigious Upper East Side school known for its Ivy League-bound students" and "the fast track to law, medicine and academia."[5] Publicly available data indicate that Hunter has both the highest average SAT score and the highest average ACT score of any school in the United States, public or private, though complete data is needed to be conclusive.[1][20]

All Hunter students pursue a six-year program of study. Hunter is a college preparatory high school that provides a liberal arts education. The majority of subjects are accelerated such that high school study begins in the 8th grade and state educational requirements are completed in the 11th. During the 12th grade, students take electives, have the option to attend courses at Hunter College (for transferable credit), undertake independent academic studies, and participate in internships around the city.

Students in grades 7 and 8 are required to take courses in communications and theater (a curriculum that includes drama, storytelling, and theater). Students in grades 7–9 must take both art and music, each for half a year, and then choose one to take in tenth grade. One of the four available foreign language courses (French, Latin, Mandarin, or Spanish) must be taken each year in grades 7–10, and Advanced Placement (AP) language electives are offered through the 12th grade. A year each of biology, chemistry, and physics must be completed in addition to the introductory science classes of life science and physical science in the 7th and 8th grades, respectively. During 7th and 8th grades, students must also participate in the school's science fair; the fair is optional for older students. After the introductory 7th grade social studies course, 4 semesters of global studies (8th-9th grades) and 2 semesters (10th grade) are followed by 2 semesters of 20th century history (11th grade). A series of English and mathematics courses are taught from 7th through 11th grades. (The math curriculum is split into a track of "honors" and a track of "extended honors" classes for students of different strengths after 8th grade). Two semesters of physical education are taught each year, including swimming in the 8th grade (held at Hunter College). In 9th grade, students are required to take a CPR course for one semester and a computer science course the other semester. Starting in their junior year, students are allowed to take a limited number of electives and AP courses. The senior year, however, is free of mandated courses except for a year of physical education electives and courses to fulfill leftover educational requirements.

Hunter's English Department incorporates reading novels and writing analytical papers beginning in the 7th grade. Students have historically graduated with strong writing and reading comprehension skills, reflected by the school's high average SAT scores in critical reading and writing, and by the number of students who have earned recognition by the scholastic writing awards.[citation needed]

Upper-level electives and AP courses are offered by all six academic departments. AP courses include: AP Computer Science, AP Calculus AB and BC, AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics, AP Psychology, AP European History, AP Chemistry, AP Physics C, AP Biology, AP Statistics, AP Spanish, AP French, AP Mandarin, and AP Latin (Virgil). The English Department previously offered AP English and Literature but has since replaced it with the elective Advanced Essay Writing. Other electives include: Introduction to African-American Studies, "Race, Class, and Gender", International Relations, US Constitutional Law, Classical Mythology, Photography, Astrophysics, Advanced Art History I & II, Organic Chemistry, Creative Writing, Joyce's Ulysses, Shakespeare's Comedies and Romance/Shakespeare's Tragedies and Histories, and Physiology. Hunter's AP offerings are currently[when?] being evaluated by the Faculty and Curriculum Committee. The class of 2013 took 366 AP tests (≈1.8 per student) with an average score of 4.5.[21]

There were 87 faculty members in 2013. 89% had advanced degrees. Many teachers are scientists, writers, artists, and musicians. Many come to Hunter with university-level teaching experience. The student/faculty ratio is 13:1,[1] much lower than the city's other selective public schools (e.g. Stuyvesant = 22:1;[22] Bronx Science = 21:1;[23] Brooklyn Tech = 21:1[24][25]).

Nearly 99% of Hunter's classes of 2002 through 2005 went directly to college, and about 25% of these students accepted admission into an Ivy League school.[2] Worth reported that 9.4% of Hunter's classes of 1998 through 2001 attended Harvard, Yale or Princeton (the highest rate of any public school in the United States).[4]

In the graduating class of 2015, out of about 190 students, Hunter received 89 total acceptances from the Ivy League, and ultimately, 56 students (≈30%) matriculated into one of the eight Ivy League schools. There are six guidance counselors serving the student population. Each junior and senior is assigned a college guidance counselor.[26]

Hunter students win many honors and awards during their high school careers,[27] including numerous scholastic writing awards. Hunter wins approximately 23% of all New York State Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. 74 members of the Class of 2013 (38%) were National Merit or National Achievement Scholarship Semifinalists.[1] Of particular fame are the winners of the Regeneron Science Talent Search (formerly Intel and Westinghouse STS), of which Hunter has had four: Amy Reichel in 1981, Adam Cohen ('97, now a professor in the Chemistry and Physics Departments at Harvard) in 1997, David L.V. Bauer ('05) in 2005, and Benjy Firester ('18) in 2018.[28]

Publicly available data indicate that Hunter has both the highest average SAT score and the highest average ACT score of any school in the United States, public or private, though complete data is needed to be conclusive. For the graduating class of 2012, the average SAT score was a 2207.[20] The class of 2013 averaged 2200[1] on the test and the class of 2016 averaged 2208. The class of 2013 scored an average of 32.6 on the ACT.[1]

Extracurricular activities edit

Clubs are diverse in their topics, and include politics, film, music, and knitting. Clubs and organizations at Hunter are all student-run, with faculty members as advisers. During club open house, members of the student body have the opportunity to spend their lunch time meeting representatives of clubs.[1] The school publishes a list of clubs available in this footnote's link.[29]

Co-curricular activities edit

Students can choose to further pursue their academic interests through school activities such as the National Economics Challenge, Hunter United Nations Society, Fed Challenge (economics), Mock Trial, Debate Team, Math Team, the Hunter Chess and Go Teams, Quiz Bowl, Science Bowl, History Bowl, FIRST Robotics, and the Washington Seminar. The Hunter Economics and Finance team was formed in 2013 by two juniors and one sophomore, who subsequently led the Hunter team to become National Champions of the David Ricardo division of the National Economics Challenge (run by the Council for Economic Education) in their inaugural year. Since then the team has become one of the top economics team in the country (placing students top 3 individually at the Harvard Precollege Economics Competition and repeatedly sweeping NEC states in all divisions). The Hunter Chess Team has won numerous tournaments and championships. The Washington Seminar on Government in Action was introduced in the 1950s; students selected for this program research public policy issues throughout the year; arrange meetings with various public figures in Washington, D.C.; and then meet with them for questioning and discussion regarding their researched issue during a three-day trip in May. The Mock Trial team was the top team from New York City in 2015 and the top team in the state in 2022.[30] The debate team is completely student run and is nationally recognized and attends various tournaments throughout the year including tournaments at universities such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton. The Middle School debate team is a top-ranked team, that took the top three spots at the Middle School Public Debate Program's National Invitational Tournament at Claremont McKenna College in 2013.[31]

Sports edit

Hunter's sports teams are extremely competitive given the school's size; a large number, including both Girls' and Boys' varsity Lacrosse, Volleyball, Swimming, Golf, Wrestling, Cross-country, Fencing and Tennis, each usually place in the top 10 of the 543 high schools [32] in New York City's Public School Athletic League (PSAL), the country's largest and oldest high school sports league.[33]

The sports are cross-country (boys' and girls' varsity and junior varsity), soccer (boys' varsity, junior varsity and middle school and girls' varsity and middle school), swimming (boys' and girls' varsity and co-ed middle school), volleyball (boys' varsity and girls' varsity, junior varsity and middle school), golf (coed and girls' varsity), basketball (boys have two middle school teams, one junior varsity team, and one varsity team, while the girls' have one middle school and one varsity team), indoor track (boys' and girls' varsity, middle school, and recently it was extended to the elementary school as well), outdoor track (boys' and girls' varsity, middle school and elementary), baseball (boys' middle school and varsity), softball (girls' middle school and varsity), lacrosse (boys' and girls' varsity and junior varsity), tennis (boys' and girls' varsity), ultimate (boys' and girls' varsity), bowling (Co-Ed varsity), fencing (boys' and girls' varsity), badminton (boys' and girls' varsity), handball (coed varsity) and wrestling (boys' and girls' varsity and co-ed middle school).

Many teams are called "Hunter Hawks" because the school mascot is a hawk.[34]

In the winter of 2006 the boys' fencing team won the PSAL city championship for the second year in a row, beating rival school Stuyvesant in the finals. It has since captured the silver medal in winter 2008, losing to Stuyvesant in the final, and the bronze medal in winter 09, again losing to Stuyvesant, after beating them twice during an undefeated regular season to win the division championship. It proceeded win the city championship again in 2011, followed by bronze in 2012, and silver in 2013. Following another undefeated season, the team took first place in 2014, winning in a single-touch tie-breaker against rival Brooklyn Technical High School.[35]

In the 2009–2014 seasons, the Girls' Varsity Fencing Team won five consecutive PSAL championships.[36]

In 2011, both the Boys' and Girls' varsity lacrosse teams won the PSAL Bowl Division Championships. In 2013 Boys' Lacrosse won the City Championship against Tottenville.[37] That season, prior to winning the City Championship, they were ranked third overall among all city schools, both public and private (after first-ranked Dalton and second-ranked Tottenville).[38]

In the 2012 season, the Boys' Middle School Soccer Team were the Citywide PSAL Champions winning the finals against Salk.[39]

In the 2016 season, the Girls' varsity golf team won the citywide PSAL championship, defeating Bronx Science High School 5–0 in the finals.[40] The team went on to win the city championship in the 2017 and 2018 seasons as well, capturing the title for three years in a row.[41] In the 2021 season, the Girls' Varsity Golf team won the citywide PSAL Championship by defeating Staten Island Technical High School 3–2 in the final.[42]

School events and traditions edit

Students at Hunter can attend social events sponsored by the school administration, faculty and the student-run General Organization (G.O.). These include:

  • Seventh Grade Picnic: an orientation and welcoming event held in Central Park at the end of September.
  • Spirit Week: a week in October in which each day consists of activities centered around a "theme" (e.g. retro) as designated by the G.O. It was created in the 1990s as a replacement for a spring "Field Day", which was once organized by the Athletic Association.
    • Spirit Day: A Spirit Week event in which the entire high school community takes buses to Bear Mountain. Activities typically include a football game between teams comprised of juniors and seniors, respectively; a bike trip to and from Bear Mountain; and a hike.
  • Homecoming: a day in which the previous year's graduates return to the school to revisit current students in December. There is usually a basketball game on this day.
  • G.O. Breakfast: a morning prior to midterms in which the G.O. organizes a breakfast of donuts, coffee, and hot cocoa outside the G.O. Office.
  • Senior Walkout: carried out on the first day of snowfall. Seniors leave class for the day to engage in snowball fights or pursue other activities outside of the school with parents of seniors providing refreshments.[43] Originally an act of rebellion, in recent years the event has become a school-sanctioned ritual and is done in consultation with the administration.[44]
  • Carnival: an end-of-year event. It usually has a theme, live and recorded music, and stalls run by school clubs.
  • Senior
  • Senior Week: traditionally the week after Carnival and before graduation. During this week, there are events designed to say goodbye to the graduating seniors.
    • Senior Tea: A Senior Week event in which the senior class groups into their seventh grade class sections to reflect upon their time at Hunter. Faculty members typically join Senior Tea as well.
  • "Intel Trip": A trip run by the Hunter Science department that takes students to Washington D.C. to view Intel Science Project finalists and sightseeing in surrounding areas.

Several formal dances are arranged throughout the year:

  • Prom is a similar event to many proms held all across the United States, consisting of formal dress and a sit-down dinner. The event is usually followed by an after-party at a student's house. In June 2001, Prom was held at the World Trade Center (Windows on the World). Prom is held on a Thursday evening. Attendees return to school on Friday in their finery so students and teachers can admire their glamorous outfits.
  • Semi-formal is the "junior prom," held for eleventh graders in the spring.
  • Lower-termers have their own annual dances, including dances for Valentine's Day and Halloween for the seventh and eighth graders. In some years, there may also be themed dances; for example, in 2006, dances included the Halloween and Valentines' Dances as well as a "Black, White, and Silver Dance" for seventh and eighth graders.

Alumni edit

Notable alumni include:[45]

See also edit

References edit

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40°47′8.92″N 73°57′14.04″W / 40.7858111°N 73.9539000°W / 40.7858111; -73.9539000

External links edit

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