Choosing a High School? Two More Chances to Learn About Admissions

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The Department of Education is wrapping up a series of high school admission workshops this month. SchoolBook caught up with parents, students and Department of Education officials Thursday night at the Long Island City High School in Queens.

Parents clutched copies of the bulky public school directory, as well as handouts on school choice that were available in several languages, including Spanish, Bengali and Arabic. Bonnie Gross from the department’s student enrollment division presided over the meeting, while six people translated her words for parents who wore headsets.

Ms. Gross used sample application forms and receipts to demonstrate the application process and explained the differences among the various methods that schools used to consider applicants: audition, educational option, limited unscreened, screened, tested, unscreened and zoned.

She also emphasized the importance of “location, location, location” because of the challenges that long commutes pose for teenagers. She told parents that they knew their children best, but it was important to make a realistic choice.

"Even if Hop Stop says the school is only 20 minutes away, there's no guarantee that your child will get the first bus, or the first train," Ms. Gross said.

Barbara Pharboo and her son, Brandon Lorenzo, said they learned a lot from the meeting. “It was really great,” Ms. Pharboo said. “We’re actually considering some of the specialized high schools, and we now know that we need to speak to counselors first.”

A few dozen parents stayed for a question-and-answer session to ask a range of questions, some complicated and some straightforward.

“Does ethnicity have a role in the admissions process?” one parent asked.

“Absolutely, positively, no,” Ms. Gross replied.

The last two high school workshops this summer will focus on specialized high schools admissions. they will be held on Tuesday, July 24, at the Prospect Heights Campus in Brooklyn, and Thursday, July 26, at the Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan.

Zaria Witherspoon, from I.S. 231 in Queens, with her mother, Shannon, at a D.O.E. high school admissions workshop.