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160-05 Highland Ave, Queens, NY 11432
Large School, Small Learning Communities, Diverse
Hillcrest is a large, orderly neighborhood school with energetic teachers who get to know the students well and students who aren’t afraid to speak up in class. It is divided into nine smaller programs, including a Pre-Med Institute that has steered many students towards M.D. and R.N degrees.
Every morning, watched over by several police officers, thousands of students stream past delis and houses to climb the gentle hill on which the school sits. Inside, the atmosphere is calm and ordered as students pass through metal detectors. Wide hallways and large classrooms filled with light help lessen the effects of overcrowding, as do three staggered entrance times. The school is diverse, serving an influx of West Indian, Russian, Arab, South Asian, Dominican, Puerto Rican and African immigrants as well as long-established African American families. A large selection of teams, electives, clubs, and languages (Spanish, French, Benagli and Modern Arabic) offers something for everyone.
In 2006, with a grant from the Gates Foundation, Hillcrest made the transition from one large school into nine career-oriented programs overseen by one principal. Each “small learning community,” or SLC, as they are called, serve roughly 450 students and has its own set of teachers, its own director, guidance counselor and suite of classrooms. In addition to Pre-Med, the school offers Humanities, Business Tech, Teaching, Theatre, Health Careers, and Public Service and law. Students get instruction in core subjects of math, science, social studies and English and most of their elective classes from their own program's faculty. Sports, clubs, and the school’s art and music programs are open to all Hillcrest students.