New name, big changes at MS 244

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The New School for Leadership and Journalism, MS 244 is getting a makeover.

On Feb. 17 the District 10 Community Education Council approved a name change for the school. Soon, it will go by The New School for Leadership and the Arts. And that is only the most cosmetic transformation the school has undergone in recent months.

Since it opened six years ago, MS 244 has held eighth-grade journalism classes. Students learned about journalism, along with English, in sixth and seventh grade, too. But Assistant Principal Eduardo Mora said that the talented and artistic students enrolled at the school prompted leaders to re-think the curriculum.

“We really wanted the name of the school … to reflect the students,” Mr. Mora said.

School leaders did away with the journalism program at the end of last year, beefed up the arts offerings and opened the Arts Academy. Currently in its first year, the Arts Academy offers students a chance to study music, visual art, dance and band.

To increase course offerings, the school has several partnerships.

The Bronx Arts Ensemble brings in teaching artists who specialize in modern dance, African drumming, guitar and percussion. Students can practice their moves in the school’s new dance studio, which was completed in October.

There is also a partnership with Flamenco Vivo, a Spanish dance company that teaches students the history and art of flamenco in a 20-session course. Mr. Mora said yet another partnership involves about 60 eighth graders taking ballroom dance lessons.

“It’s a happening place,” Mr. Mora said of the school and its myriad courses.

For students interested in science and math, the school also has a newly opened Science Academy. Students there are currently immersed in research and activities revolving around alternative forms of energy. Mr. Mora said the project is inspired by President Barack Obama, who has called for an increased focus on green energy to prevent catastrophes like the Gulf oil spill.

The Science Academy, which has about 280 students, is locally zoned for neighborhood students while the Arts Academy, with about 385 students, holds auditions for prospective students. Mr. Mora said about 130 students auditioned between Feb. 12 and Feb. 15 for September 2011.

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