Representation in the Classroom: Diversity Compared in New York City High Schools

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

As the school bell rings and the hallways flood with students, it’s clear that St. Francis Prep is educating a diverse population.

For junior Ayanna Singh, who’s looking to pursue a career in medicine, it was St. Francis Prep’s 19 ethnic clubs that showed her just how open her school was to welcoming different walks of life.

“My old school was very small and all one kind of person but here there’s no such thing,” Singh said. 

“I am Guyanese and Trinidadian but I can join the Korean club,” Singh said. “I think it gives people so many chances and opportunities that can really expand their knowledge.”

St. Francis Prep is 27% Latino, 39% White, 16% Black and 18% asian.

It’s a breakdown, director of admissions Lisa Schaeffer said, that is celebrated, but not designed.

“There’s nothing on there that tells us their race or religion, so we look at them as just every child is equal in that part,” Schaeffer said.

Recent statistics show New York City’s specialized high schools are struggling with diversity. 

This year’s Brooklyn Technical High School freshman class of 1,421 has 37 Black students, while the Bronx High School of Science freshman class of 731, has 34 Black students and at Stuyvesant High School the 762 freshman class, consists of only 7 Black students.

Diversity teaches you so much about life, about the future and what the real world is going to look like, say students at St. Francis Prep.

Junior soccer player Charlie Vallone has his sights set on the University of Pennsylvania. He says not only has his Prep education readied him for college, the environment has also reinforced his Catholic faith. 

“Through our faith, we know to love our neighbor as ourselves, and St. Francis Prep really teaches you that with the Franciscan ways and Franciscan values love everyone like a brother,” Vallone said.