By Alex Israel
Félicitations are in order for Lafayette Academy, a public middle school currently serving grades 6-8, which received initial approval to move ahead with expanding to a 6-12 middle and high school, and to become certified to offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma.
The school, located in the Joan of Arc building at 154 West 93rd Street, currently offers a French-English dual-language curriculum that allows students to learn skills and academic subjects like math, science, and history in both languages.
The IB, a certification developed by a Swiss non-profit, would aim to prepare students for life beyond school through an “innovative, international approach” that teaches them to “think critically and independently, and how to inquire with care and logic,” according to its website.
Lafayette Academy Principal Brian Zager advocated on behalf of the school’s expansion during Community Board 7’s February full board meeting on Tuesday.
“In my school it’s not a French 101 class,” Zager explained, asserting that more than 50 percent of students read, write, and speak fluent French. But because of the limited dual-language high school curricula throughout the city, students “have no place to go” to continue that education beyond middle school, he said.
Expanding Lafayette Academy would create another high school within New York City School District 3—the first public dual-language high school program on the Upper West Side—and would give preference to continuing District 3 middle school students, Zager said.
The IB program would “open up a world of jobs” that might previously have only been offered to those who attended expensive private schools, he added. “We’re opening this world up to kids that didn’t think that international jobs … were even possible.”
After a brief discussion, Community Board 7 passed a resolution in support of the plan, calling on the Department of Education and elected officials to provide additional classroom space and the funding Zager said would be necessary to achieve both the expansion and IB certification.