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Four Bronx high schools named America’s best

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U.S. News and World Report has named four Bronx high schools, which span areas as diverse as Pelham Parkway and Mott Haven, as some of the best in the nation.

The High School for American Studies at Lehman College was awarded a gold ranking, the highest given out by the magazine, which has picked 1,600 high schools in 41 states, as among the best in the nation, since the series began in November 2007.

“Obviously we have very high standards for our students, and push them to excel at very high levels,” said the school’s principal Alessandro Weiss, of a unique curriculum that has students attending classes with college students at Lehman.

“We want to develop, in our students, a love for learning that will prepare them for college,” he continued. 

As do other schools who made the cut, including Bronx Aerospace High School, at the Evander Childs educational campus; Pelham Preparatory School at the Columbus High School educational campus, and the High School for Careers in Sports, located in Mott Haven at Urban Assembly.

The magazine ranks schools on the basis of performance levels in reading and math exceeding the relative student level of poverty; proficiency rates on state testing for their least advantaged student groups; and the ability to prepare students for college, measured by advanced placement tests.

“I think we’ve been progressively improving since the school started six years ago,” said Sharon Aiuvalasit, a spokeswoman for High School for Careers in Sports, which received a bronze ranking. “We’ve consistently changed our curriculum to meet the students’ needs.”

Aiuvalasit noted that the school did not have any idea they were even being considered by the magazine, but that the news is not at all surprising given the way the school functions.

“Every one of our students takes classes that put them in place to being granted an advanced, regents diploma,” Aiuvalasit continued. “There are no honors or special classes. All of our students are all given the same opportunities, and the kids know that we expect a lot of them.”

Pelham Preparatory School’s principal Jane Aronoff said that the school missed being chosen as a Silver award winner because complete statistics on college admissions are not yet available, as the school has only graduated two classes to date. She said that 100% of seniors have been accepted into college.

“It is wonderful to be recognized and it shows we are doing great things for the kids,” Aronoff stated. “Congratula­tions  really go to the staff who work closely with the children.”

The Bronx Aerospace Academy, a public school requiring students to wear military style uniforms at the comprehensive Air Force ROTC program, also received a bronze.

Principal Barbara Kirkway said the academy, partnered with the Air Force and Mosholu Montefiore Community Center, teaches children to fly, not literally, but figuratively.

“We focus on preparing the child to be successful in life,” Kirkway stated.

Kirkway said that children need to feel valued, and that once an atmosphere of trust is in place, children can excel in academics.

“Once a student is in a comfort zone,” Kirkway continued, “learning can be achieved.”

School Evaluation Services, an independent educational consulting company, developed the methodology for the U.S. News’ Best High Schools, in conjunction with Andrew Rotherham, of Education Sector and Eduwonk.com.

The four schools are part of 31 new schools added to the list.

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