Facing History School is latest News Literacy Project pilot
The school, which was founded in 2005 and will graduate its first senior class in 2009, focuses on understanding history through the lives of those who lived it, historical texts and community engagement. Its stated mission “is to graduate lifelong learners with the skills and knowledge for academic and professional success, and to shape responsible, active, thoughtful participants and leaders in a democratic society.’’
Facing History focuses an entire year on the Holocaust and a second on eugenics and race relations in the United States. It requires 400 hours of community service. A senior year research project further dovetails with the News Literacy Project.
Facing History is also a New York Consortium School, which makes it less dependent than conventional programs on high-stakes testing for graduation requirements. This permits the school to focus on assessments based on such things as literary essays, original science experiments and research that demonstrates the use of evidence and argument.
The student body is nearly 100 percent minority. Students come from four boroughs; about 80 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
Facing History is part of the highly regarded New Visions New Century High School program, designed to revitalize underperforming New York City high schools. Facing History Principal Gillian Smith says the News Literacy Project will help students “make connections” and see history in the making “come alive.”