Volume 73, Number 48 | March 31 - April 6, 2004



Pace will open public high school in Chinatown

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Plans are to open Pace High School in the M.S. 131 building this September.

Pace University and the New York City Education Department have teamed up to give area students a jumpstart on college with the opening of Pace High School this fall inside M.S. 131 on Hester St.

The public high school was one of 60 new, small secondary schools announced by Mayor Mike Bloomberg on March 11. All are linked to nonprofit education and community groups and funded partly by organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, George Soros’ Open Society Institute and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Although they had collaborated in the past, it was only at a meeting last fall that Pace University and M.S. 131 joined forces on the high school project.

“It was like going to a school dance and seeing your love across the room,” said Yvette Sy, 34, an assistant principal at M.S. 131 who will be principal of Pace High School.

Pace High School students will enjoy many benefits of their namesake institution. Each will carry an identification card allowing access to all Pace University facilities, such as the library and gym. Students who have completed their state diploma requirements will be able to take courses at the university, and Pace University education students will work as administrative and teaching interns at the high school.

The school will open in September with 100 ninth graders and will add a grade each year through 12th grade. It will accept applications from all five boroughs, but Sy estimated that 60 percent of the study body would come from the Lower East Side and Chinatown, and 80 percent would come from the local school Region 9, which includes Lower Manhattan, the Upper East Side and parts of the Bronx.

“It is the result of a lot of hard work on the part on the faculty and staff and we’re very excited about it,” said David Caputo, Pace’s president.

Students of all achievement levels are eligible to enroll. In after-school and Saturday programs, teachers will assist students who need remedial help and also those who need extra challenges.

“We want to be elite but not elitist,” said Jan McDonald, dean of the Pace School of Education.

Students who rank the school among their top choices will have a better chance of admission, as will those whose parent or guardian attended information sessions at the school, Sy said.

Each year, new Pace High students will attend a weeklong summer orientation at the Pace University Pleasantville campus in Westchester.

“That’s our whole premise — getting to know kids and their needs first and forming an academically rigorous program within that,” Sy said.

The deadline for all New York City eighth graders to submit new high school choice forms to their guidance counselors was March 24. Results will be announced in early May.

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