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City Honors: the sequel

Yesterday's post, "The secret to getting into City Honors," generated quite a lot of interest and discussion -- in the neighborhood, at the watercoolers, and online. (If you haven't already joined me on Facebook, friend me at www.facebook.com/mary.pasciak, and jump in on the conversations there, on this and plenty else.)

I heard so much from so many people, I thought it would be a good idea to follow up today with more info.

First off, if you want to see steam coming out of a Buffalo parent's ears, apparently all you need to do is just ask about the admissions process to the Buffalo Public Schools. I have been hearing all kinds of horror stories -- about the criterion-based schools, as well as the schools in general.

One that sticks out in my mind is the mother who told me she called central registration last year to ask for an application to Olmsted 64's gifted program. The person who answered the phone told her the district only printed 200 applications, and once they were gone, that was it, so she better get down to Ash Street and get an application right away. (This is not true, by the way. The district prints thousands and thousands of applications.)

But I'll be giving you plenty more info next week about the overall registration process and the changes that are in store.

City Honors pool In the meantime, what I've been hearing loud and clear from the City Honors crowd is that they have been trying to get the word out about their admissions process, in the hopes of opening it up to as many students as possible -- and they have been incredibly frustrated by the fact that the district does not seem to be trying to do the same.

Here's part of one email I got from a City Honors staffer:

You are so right! Our school is trying to encourage the students in the district to apply but the district's website makes that difficult. Our website is much friendlier than the district's but really, shouldn't theirs be too? Images this small discourage parents from even trying to get their children in. It's detrimental to the the children, as we do have some exceptional talent in our area, but the children cannot apply because the parents cannot find the information. 

Another City Honors teacher outlined for me some of the steps the school has taken to reach out to students:

We work REALLY hard on being transparent.

Our Foundation, not the district, pays for admissions flyers and posters. Dr. Kresse goes on the announcements several times to ask students and faculty to take them to local community centers, etc.... A bunch of us take time out of our schedules to post everywhere and anywhere we can.... The first few years we started producing these, we sent them to other schools via the district "Pony." However, they were being thrown out at a LOT of schools (especially schools that end in 8th grade).

The current administration of our school has been working extra hard to make sure the word gets out so it is NOT like it used to be (word of mouth for those in the "know"). We must be doing something right because we have steadily increased the number of students testing for our program. Last year was a record breaking year....

For those of you who want to stay up to date, you can follow City Honors on Twitter, @cityhonors, and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/cityhonors.

A few readers told me they were able to find the City Honors testing info on the BPS website much easier than I did. Kudos to them, and a special prize for everyone else: a link to the full schedule of testing dates for the criterion-based schools: www.buffaloschools.org/files/filesystem/11-12%20final%20combo%20open%20house%20for%20display%20adrr.pdf.

The good news: It's full size! No squinting needed.

Here's the info for the high school tests:

Oct. 1, 8:00 a.m.: City Honors School, Gr. 9 @ 186 E. North St.

Oct. 1, 8:00 a.m.: F. L. Olmsted School, Gr. 9-12 @ 186 E. North St.

Oct. 15, 22, 8:00 a.m.: Buffalo Academy for Visual & Performing Arts, Gr. 9-12 @ 450 Masten Ave.

Nov. 2, 3, 8:15 a.m.: Hutch Tech High School, Gr. 9-10 @ 256 S. Elmwood Ave.

Nov. 5, 8:00 a.m.: City Honors/F.L. Olmsted Schools Make-up @ 186 E. North St.

Nov. 9, 10, 8:15 a.m.: Hutch Tech High School, Gr. 9-10 @ 256 S. Elmwood Ave.

Nov. 15, 18, 8:40 a.m.: McKinley Advertising Art Skills Test/Portfolio Review, Gr. 9 @ 1500 Elmwood Ave.

Jan. 11, 8:40 a.m.: McKinley Advertising Art Skills Make-up, Gr. 9 @ 1500 Elmwood Ave.

And for the elementary schools:

Oct. 15, 8:00 a.m.: City Honors School & F.L. Olmsted School, Gr. 5 @ 186 E. North St.

Oct. 22, 8:00 a.m.: City Honors School & F.L. Olmsted School, Gr. 6-8 @ 186 E. North St.

Nov. 5, 8:00 a.m.: City Honors/F.L. Olmsted Schools Make-up @ 186 E. North St.

Nov. 5, 19, 8:00 a.m.: Buffalo Academy for Visual & Performing Arts, Gr. 5-8 @ 450 Masten Ave.

Jan. 7, By appt.: F.L. Olmsted School #64, K-1 @ 345 Olympic Ave.

Jan. 21, By appt.: F.L. Olmsted School #64, K @ 345 Olympic Ave.

Jan. 21, 8:30 a.m., F.L. Olmsted School #64, Gr. 2-4 @ 345 Olympic Ave.

Thanks to all of you who posted comments on the blog and Facebook, and to all those who emailed me!

- Mary Pasciak

facebook.com/mary.pasciak     twitter.com/SchoolZoneBlog    [email protected]

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee | [email protected]


Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes | [email protected]


Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone | [email protected]


Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB | [email protected]

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