All About HSES FAQ

Open House Frequently Asked Questions



  • What is HSES all about?

    • The mission of HSES is to promote environmental integrity, social equity and economic prosperity for all learners through challenging hands-on collaborative learning experiences that promote citizenship, scholarship and leadership within our community and the world at large.  You can read more about HSES’ history, mission, and partnerships here


  • What makes HSES unique? (answers from various community members)

    • Check out what students have to say in this video!

    • HSES is a very close-knit community where what we do best stems from the abundance of communication and transparency we share with staff, students, and parents. The students are our #1 priority and we encourage excellence in our students through the access to opportunities that we provide. Through the promotion of diversity, inclusion, and equity to the abundance of student clubs, and sports programs; we invest heavily in our students to be college-bound and career-ready viable candidates for tomorrow. 

    • HSES has a guidance department that is second to none.  The fact that our guidance counselors stay with their grade-level cohort all four years allows them to really build and maintain trusting relationships with their students and to know every student well.  In addition to grade-band counselors and a dedicated Postsecondary Counselor, our students benefit from access to the RAPP (Relationship Abuse Prevention) Program, SAPIS (Substance Abuse Intervention) Counselor, and Jewish Board social worker/therapist. 

    • Our commitment to sustainability- we were the first school in the city to do so.  We offer a variety of electives and courses that are themed to the school's mission, as well as a STEM internship program and inform students throughout the year of opportunities and support them in applying. 

    • At HSES, the students are a very welcoming group of students and they also are very proactive in creating the type of learning environment they can enjoy. 

    • HSES focuses on the UN's Sustainability Goals of economic vitality, environmental integrity, and social justice. These tenets are embedded throughout the school. We have a blossoming rooftop garden with chickens, a film studio donated by CBS, and socially justice centered clubs such as Generation Z and the Feminist Eagles. 



  • How do I apply to your school?  What is your admissions eligibility criteria?

    • Our admissions rubric, as well as directions on applying to our school using MySchoolsNYC, can be found here.


  • What is the difference between the two programs you offer?

    • We currently offer two programs- Ed. Opt (M41C-around 325 seats) and the screened Honors Academy (M41D- around 34 seats).  The Honors Academy features advanced-pace courses in the four core content areas- Math, Science, English, and Social Studies, and is based on test scores and grades.  There are no Honors courses for languages or electives. 

  • What happens if a student comes in with an 8th grade Regents Exam or credit in Living Environment, Geometry, or Algebra? 

    • A student with a Math Regents starts in Geometry Honors. A student with a Science Regents starts in Earth Science Honors or Chemistry Honors depending on seat availability and also their performance on the Math Regents. Given we do not know whether or not students will be taking Regents exams in June, it still remains to be seen how students will be programmed for Math courses. This upcoming Fall, like last Fall of 2020, we may use a combination of parent/guardian preference and a placement exam in order to ensure students are programmed appropriately.



  • What is the instructional philosophy/teaching methodology used in STEM? 

    • In Math, teachers focus on collaborative learning where students learn through productive struggle and frequent feedback and assessment.  In Science, we use inquiry-based learning through virtual and in-person labs that engage students in scientific phenomenon.


  • What is the instructional philosophy/teaching methodology used in Humanities?

    • HSES believes that students learn best when they are at the center of learning. Students work collaboratively in student centered classrooms to draw conclusions, make inferences, and evaluate sources. The collaborative nature of classrooms reinforces the skills of writing and speaking. 


  • What does the World Language program of study look like at HSES?

    • ​Students are enrolled in three years of a world language and the languages offered currently are Spanish, French, Italian and Mandarin.


  • What supports are in place for students at HSES with IEPs?

    • ​Students with Disabilities are provided any services indicated on their IEP. To get an understanding of how your child will be supported, obtain a copy of your child's IEP, and review the Recommended Programs and Services.


  • What does mandated counseling look like at HSES? 

  • Counseling is provided by the school's Social Worker and usually takes place during a non-core subject period.


  • What supports are in place for transgender or gender expansive students?

    • First and foremost, HSES is a safe space, and staff are allies to all students.  Student names, identities, and pronouns are observed and respected.  Transgender students may use the gender neutral restrooms available in the Guidance suite or on the upper floors and they are provided with a key.  Guidance Counselors are advocates for our students in ensuring that students are supported with name and pronoun changes at school, and with parent and guardian permission, student records can also be changed (as per DOE protocol).  HSES also has a thriving GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) and many queer-friendly spaces, including our RAPP program.


  • Is there advisory?

    • For the 2020-2021 school year, we have developed a new Socio-Emotional Advisory Learning curriculum, which is trauma-informed and focuses on guiding students through mindfulness, self-expression, and executive functioning skills needed to navigate this turbulent time.  During in-person learning, HSES also has the Peer Group Connection (PGC) program, in which 11th and 12th grade students work closely with small groups of 9th graders to help them transition to high school life, teach soft skills, and build community.  

  • What is the college acceptance rate for graduating students?

    • 70% of our graduating seniors attend a 4-year college, and around 30% attend a 2 year college, with a small percentage opting for trade or vocational programs.  You can find out more about our Post-Secondary Department, as well as a list of recent college acceptances, here.



  • What does a typical 9th grader schedule look like? 

    • Our school day during in-person learning starts at 8:20 and ends at 2:40 (with clubs and tutoring happening after school).  Classes are 45 minutes long.  Subject areas include Math, Science, English, History, Introduction to the Environment or Art (each one semester), Lunch, Physical Education, Foreign Language. 


  • What is the average class size? 

    • We try to keep class sizes of 29 for Freshmen, 26 for Math/Science since it is a Regents Exam year.  However, 34 is still the contractual limit as we must legally meet student's special needs.


  • Do you have sports and clubs?

    • Of course!  Here are the links to find out more about PSAL sports and clubs (keep in mind, club offerings change each year based on student demand and interest)!  


  • How does Student Council work at HSES?

    • Student Council elections occur every June for rising Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors. Freshmen are elected in the fall. Student Council serves as representatives for the whole student body. Students know that they can approach student council with any questions and concerns. The Council will bring these concerns to the stakeholders in the community. They are also responsible for dances, game nights, Spirit Week, as well as social justice initiatives like Prom at the Polls in October.


  • What is the average amount of homework per night?

    • It really depends on your classes and grade level, as well as if you are in Honors, AP or other advanced courses.  It shouldn’t be more than a few hours a night for a full advanced program.  



  • Is HSES safe? 

    • Yes! Our facility consists of four separate agencies which include HSES, Independence HS(Transfer School), Restart, and the Lyfe program. All entities are completely autonomous, where students do not interact with each other during the course of the instructional day. Our school culture team includes school deans, guidance counselors, a social worker, psychologists, school safety agents, and many staff members that are trained in restorative justice practices. Additionally, we have partnered with John Jay College, where every semester a Peer Mediation Counselor works in conjunction with staff to assist students in all their daily endeavors supporting their social, emotional, and academic needs.


  • Can students go out for lunch? 

    • No, HSES is a closed campus. When students are in-person, there are 5 scheduled lunch periods.


  • Is HSES a shared campus?  Do students interact with students from other schools?  

    • HSES doesn’t share instructional space with the other agencies housed within the building.  HSES is completely autonomous.


  • How does HSES deal with bullying? 

    • HSES is committed to sustaining a community of learners and leaders that adhere to the guidelines established by the DOE regarding Respect for All, Diversity, and Inclusion. Students are frequently advised of the HSES code of conduct as well as the DOE’s citywide behavioral expectations as a guiding principle for fostering positive nurturing behavior within our community. Our school deans, Guidance Counselors, Social Workers, and other support groups (SAPIS worker and RAPP Counselor) work closely with students to investigate all occurrences in their entirety; while providing transparency in communicating with all parties and employing a restorative approach toward strengthening our student body.