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New Pre-K Program at P.S. 51 Gives Parents More Options in Hell's Kitchen

By Mathew Katz | March 4, 2013 9:11am

HELL'S KITCHEN — P.S. 51 is getting a new building in Hell's Kitchen after spending two years on the Upper East Side, and it will have a new full-day pre-K program to go with it.

Officials at the Department of Education confirmed that the popular pre-K program would be part of the school's massive new West 45th Street building. The school's old location had a similar program, but it shut down after P.S. 51's temporary move uptown.

The pre-K program will be Hell's Kitchen's second public school option, along with one at P.S. 111. While the latter school as a whole has a less-than-stellar reputation and a C on its most recent Department of Education rating, its pre-K program has long been in demand, with more parents applying than there are seats.

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CHECK YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING YOUR CHILD INTO PRE-K

Across the street from P.S. 111 is another option for pre-K in the neighborhood: Sacred Heart of Jesus School on West 52nd Street offers a robust pre-K, as does Holy Cross School near Times Square. The parochial schools faced a merger because of dwindling Archdiocese funds, but they will remain separate for the 2013-14 school year.

Nearby in Chelsea, popular pre-K programs include P.S. 11 and P.S. 33.

Here are some of Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen's noteworthy public pre-K programs:

P.S. 111, Adolph S. Ochs, 440 W. 53rd St.

P.S. 111 receives more applications every year than there are seats. Last year, 196 students applied to the pre-K program's 36 spots. Children in the program use cubes to learn about geometric shapes and count toy bears to get a head start in math class.

The school has an enormous playground, and Principal Irma Medina, who speaks Spanish, is known for working closely with students who are just learning English.

P.S. 51, Elias Howe, 525 W. 44th St.

Under Principal Nancy Sing Bock, P.S. 51 has flourished on the Upper East Side. After two years away, the school will return to a 630-seat program, complete with a new, full-day pre-K program.

P.S. 11, William T. Harris, 320 W. 21st St.

Easily the most popular pre-K in Chelsea is the full-day program at P.S. 11, where 370 students applied for 18 seats last year. This time around, the school will have the same number of seats — meaning competition will once again be fierce.

Students get the basics of reading, writing and math at P.S. 11's pre-K — and even learn about urban farming at the school's new playground-based chicken coop. Children at the school also take a variety of field trips, including to the Central Park Zoo.

P.S. 33, Chelsea Prep, 281 Ninth Ave.

P.S. 33 is easier to get into than P.S. 11, but it has seen greater demand as its reputation in the neighborhood has improved. Last year, 333 kids applied for 36 spots, and there won't be any more seats this time around.

In the past, pre-K students have taken trips to a farm upstate to learn about where their food comes from. Students also get a very early preview of dorm life at an annual "college fair" that encourages all of the school's students to start thinking about their future.