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MV City School District Announces Details Of High Schools Of Choice

Universal pre-K phase in, eighth-grade configuration part of update presentation for 20/20 Vision

MOUNT VERNON – The Mount Vernon City School District administration presented an update to the Board of Education on progress of the 20/20 Vision during the board’s Jan. 9 meeting, which showed the academic transformation is ahead of schedule.

The presentation included announcing details on the high schools of choice, the universal pre-kindergarten phase-in and the eighth-grade configuration.

The district’s school restructuring efforts, alongside the district’s facilities and grounds improvements, will create new opportunities for students and transform public education in Mount Vernon. District administrators have researched and customized these efforts to fit the city’s demographics and the district’s needs.

“It is virtually impossible for our schools not to progress with the full implementation of the 20/20 Vision,” Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton told the board. “It is a collection of best practices from national models that will ensure students are well prepared for college and the workforce. We have done a tremendous amount of work with setting the framework and foundation. It is now time for the community to expand its collaboration to guarantee the successful transformation of the Mount Vernon City School District.”

  • Creation of three schools of choice

The district is creating three, themed-based high schools of choice: STEAM (Science—Technology—Engineering–Arts–Mathematics) High School, Thornton School for the Performing and Visual Arts and The Mount Vernon High School.

Regardless of what school students choose, they will have unparalleled academic preparation for college and opportunities to be successful members of the 21st Century workforce.

STEAM High School, which is currently A.B. Davis Middle School, will provide an approach to teaching and learning that integrates the content and skills of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. STEAM High School will actively engage students in a collaborative, learning environment while infusing an integrated STEAM-centered curriculum in their studies through project-based learning. These behaviors include engagement in inquiry, logical reasoning, collaboration, and investigation.

STEAM High School students will be participants in the coveted and nationally recognized Project Lead The Way ( in addition to having course opportunities in robotics, coding and programming and gaming. They will use Discovery Education Partnership Techbooks ( and other digital devices to consume and create content.

This challenging curriculum will demonstrate and reinforce the practical applications and real-world connections that science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics have in everyday life.

Thornton School for the Performing and Visual Arts, which is currently Nellie Thornton High School, will build on its existing success in the arts field. Students will transfer their creative skills to the classrooms to build and support the cognitive framework and affective mindset necessary to nurture strong readers, mathematicians, thinkers and learners.

The program provides focused instruction in instrumental music, dance, theater, vocal music and visual arts, similar to that of a college program, in addition to a rigorous academic program.

Admitted students complete intensive theoretical, historical and practical study in a specified art field, in addition to their general education requirements of New York State.

To be admitted, students must apply, audition and participate in a family interview.

The Mount Vernon High School will provide a rigorous and comprehensive high school curriculum featuring a heavy emphasis on humanities, career and technical programs.

Because of its commitment to student achievement, a wide range of honors and Advanced Placement (AP) coursework is also offered, giving students an opportunity to earn 30 college credits from a wide range of demanding math, science, social studies and English AP offerings.   (

Additionally, students can also participate in the Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA) program (

The high school will also offer a strong Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) ( presence to further ensure students are fully career and college ready.

In addition, the district is preparing an application to join the International Baccalaureate program (

Also, a career technical education (CTE) program is also available with specializations in cosmetics, automotive technology, barbering, CISCO networking, culinary, nursing, TV production, photography, dental, animation and print production.

  • Full-day pre-kindergarten program

The district is building capacity for full-day preschool education at its schools. Having a full-day program will play a significant role at closing the achievement gap between urban children and their more advantaged peers.

Full-day pre-kindergarten will be phased in across the district over the next three years.

Currently, pre-K classes are held at: Parker School, Mount Vernon High School Campus, Graham School and Traphagen. There are half-day classes at Holmes, Williams, Columbus, Pennington and Rebecca Turner.

In 2018-19, Traphagen will add an additional class and Columbus, Holmes, Pennington and Williams will convert to full day classes.

In 2019-20, Columbus and Holmes will add a class and Lincoln – which had no pre-K program – will create full-day classes. In addition, a new elementary school will open, previously known as Mandela-Zollicoffer High School, will include full-day classes.

In 2020-21, both Hamilton and Grimes offer full-day classes.

At completion, the district will have capacity to serve 708 total students, versus the current 528 students.

  • Creation of pre-K to eighth-grade schools

The district will also begin the process to phase in and convert all elementary schools to pre-K to eighth-grade buildings, which eliminates the need for a middle school building. This will ensure   continuity of care and instruction for students. There is a substantial evidence of the benefit of this configuration to the success and retention of students.

As a result, A.B. Davis will be close as a middle school and reopen as STEAM High School.

Currently, only Pennington, Graham and the Rebecca and Benjamin Turner campus are pre-K to eighth-grade schools.

In 2018-19, seventh-grade will be phased in at Columbus, Grimes, Holmes, Lincoln and Parker. Sixth and seventh-graders from Hamilton and Williams will attend Benjamin Turner and Traphagen seventh-graders will attend Pennington. A.B. Davis will only have an eighth-grade class.

In 2019-20, the additional pre-K to seventh-grade new school (formerly Mandela-Zollicoffer) will open. Seventh grade will be phased in at Hamilton, Traphagen and Williams. Pre-K to eighth-grade schools will be Columbus, Graham, Grimes, Holmes, Lincoln, Parker, Pennington and the Rebecca and Benjamin Turner campus. A.B. Davis will no longer contain middle school students.

In 2020-21, all elementary schools will be aligned as pre-K to eighth-grade schools.

About Mount Vernon City School District

With more than 8,000 students in 16 schools, the Mount Vernon City School District is committed to providing a quality education to its children as well as developing programs that meet the diverse academic and social needs of its students.


About AJ Woodson (2374 Articles)
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company. AJ is a Father, Brother, Author, Writer, Journalism Fellow, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale,,, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
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