Success Academy Union Square Welcomes First Students

By Heather Holland on August 26, 2013 5:35pm 

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 The controversial charter school chain welcomed its first kindergartners at its new location.
Success Academy Union Square
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UNION SQUARE — Success Academy's new Union Square location welcomed its first crop of kindergartners Monday morning — and parents said they were relieved to see measures in place to separate their youngsters from the six high schools sharing the same building.

Some parents had slammed the plan to open an outpost of the Success charter chain at the Washington Irving High School campus, worrying that the hundreds of high schoolers already using the space could pose a threat to the younger elementary students.

But on the first day of school on Monday, several parents said they were pleased to see that Success Academy's space, which takes up the second floor of 40 Irving Place, was clearly separated from the rest of the school, with its own entrance and its own cafeteria.

“I was a little worried about safety at first, but now I see they have their own entrance, and they don’t really mix with the high school students, so I think it’s OK,” said Lower East Side resident Miranda Singleton, whose son attends Success Academy.

Public high schoolers won't start classes until Sept. 9, but Singleton and other parents said they were hopeful that there would not be any conflicts between the older and younger students.

Representatives of Success Academy did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

The school plans to serve kindergartners and first-graders this year, though only the kindergarten kids started on Monday, and the school will add a grade each year until it becomes a 1,000-student K-8.

The whole second floor of the building was renovated for Success, including new kid-friendly classrooms, a cafeteria, a library and Smart Boards, parents said.

“The kids love the new floors,” said Murray Hill resident Lydia Mahida. “They have numbers and letters on them, and a stop sign in front of each classroom.”

Despite some parents' claims that there is no need for a charter school in high-performing District 2, Success Academy parents said they were willing to travel farther to send their children to a charter school rather than their local zoned school in the hopes that the charter would provide more of a challenge for their kids.

“My child was bored at his [pre-K], and the principal wasn’t doing anything about it,” said Singleton. “But [at Success Academy], the principal gives out her cellphone number. The teachers give out their cellphone numbers and they teach them at their level.”

Gramercy resident Randi Bayroff, whose son attends the school, said she believed the classes would be more rigorous than other schools.

“I’m excited for the curriculum, and I love that they have science every day," Bayroff said.

Murray Hill resident Pik Mukherji, whose daughter attends the new Success school, said he tried getting her into New Explorations Into Science, Technology and Math — a Lower East Side K-12 school dedicated to gifted and talented students — but she didn’t make it through the lottery system. He thought a charter school was the next best option.

“I did a walk-through of the Upper West Side Success school," Mukherji said. "I liked what they were doing there, and I hope they'll be reproducing the same results here."

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