A Class Apart: Prodigies, Pressure, and Passion Inside One of America's Best High Schools

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Simon and Schuster, Aug 12, 2008 - Education - 336 pages
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Enter Stuyvesant High, one of the most extraordinary schools in America, a place where the brainiacs prevail and jocks are embarrassed to admit they play on the woeful football team. Academic competition is so intense that students say they can have only two of these three things: good grades, a social life, or sleep. About one in four Stuyvesant students gains admission to the Ivy League. And the school's alumni include several Nobel laureates, Academy Award winners, and luminaries in the arts, business, and public service.

A Class Apart follows the lives of Stuyvesant's remarkable students, such as Romeo, the football team captain who teaches himself calculus and strives to make it into Harvard; Jane, a world-weary poet at seventeen, battling the demon of drug addiction; Milo, a ten-year-old prodigy trying to fit in among high-school students who are literally twice his size; Mariya, a first-generation American beginning to resist parental pressure for ever-higher grades so that she can enjoy her sophomore year. And then there is the faculty, such as math chairman Mr. Jaye, who is determined not to let bureaucratic red tape stop him from helping his teachers. He even finds a job for a depressed math genius who lacks a college degree but possesses the gift of teaching.

This is the story of the American dream, a New York City school that inspires immigrants to come to these shores so that their children can attend Stuyvesant in the first step to a better life. It's also the controversial story of elitism in education. Stuyvesant is a public school, but children must pass a rigorous entrance exam to get in. Only about 3 percent do so, which, Stuyvesant students and faculty point out, makes admission to their high school tougher than to Harvard.

On the eve of the hundredth anniversary of Stuyvesant's first graduating class, reporter Alec Klein, an alumnus, was given unfettered access to the school and the students and faculty who inhabit it. What emerges is a book filled with stunning, raw, and heartrending personalities, whose stories are hilarious, sad, and powerfully moving.
 

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Contents

Back to School
1
DELANEY CARDS EARLY FEBRUARYEARLY MARCH
11
Romeo
13
The Gauntlet
21
The Wizard of Oz
35
Cuddle Puddle Muddle
45
Janes Addiction
57
Open House
65
Hells Kitchen
165
The Contest
175
SENIORITIS LATE APRILLATE JUNE
185
Zero Tolerance
187
College Night
197
Peter Pan Tilts
205
Neutral Ground
213
Love Notes
221

Like a Polaroid
75
Sing
83
The Natural
89
DETENTION EARLY MARCHMID APRIL
97
Lost in Gatsby
99
Great Expectations
111
The Real World
121
Protests and Demands
135
Grief Virus
145
Polazzos Time
157
The Players
229
The Human Element
237
The Last Dance
247
The Final Days
257
Back to the Future
271
Notable Alumni
279
Notes
289
Selected Bibliography
315
Acknowledgments
319
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Alec Klein is an award-winning reporter at The Washington Post. His previous book, Stealing Time: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Collapse of AOL Time Warner, was a national bestseller that The New York Times called "a compelling parable of greed and power and hubris." He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter.

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