School History, Mission and Equity Statement

The Beacon School was created in 1993 by two District Three educators, Ruth Lacey and Steve Stoll, with help from parents and teachers who shared the hope that a small, selective secondary school could thrive within a large, heterogeneous public school system. Since its inception, the Beacon School has offered a challenging college preparatory program emphasizing inquiry-based learning, critical thinking, and creative endeavor. Our liberal arts curriculum features a wide range of engaging elective courses in all academic subjects.
Technology and the arts play a central role in our curriculum, studied as separate disciplines and integrated into projects of other subjects. Most disciplines provide opportunities for advanced studies, including AP courses in Mathematics, Science, and Language, as well as Honors courses in the Arts. Beyond the academic program, Beacon gives students extensive opportunities to participate actively in clubs, sports teams, community service, and international travel. In 2015, Beacon moved into a magnificent, state-of-the-art building on West 44th Street near 10th Avenue in New York. Staff helped design the look and outfitting of the space, including classrooms, science laboratories, art, photography, and film studios, an art gallery, dance studio, two new theaters, a full gym, exercise rooms, and a music suite.
The Beacon School provides students with an exceptional well-rounded educational experience designed to promote independent and critical thinking, communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills.   Inquiry and critical thinking are at the center of teaching and learning.  Students are encouraged to question, take responsibility for their own learning, and actively engage in the work of the classroom and the community.  We expect our students to be curious, intellectually agile, open-minded, kind, and empathetic. Student skill development and content mastery at Beacon are assessed through discipline-appropriate performance assessment tasks.  These tasks allow for the demonstration of a full picture of what students know and can do through problem-solving, creative expression, research, writing, and presentation in a variety of media.


Beacon is a founding member of the New York Performance Standards Consortium and adheres to its practices of staff collaboration, inquiry-based education, performance-based assessment, and student civic engagement.  Beacon offers thoughtful, challenging, and deep coursework in mathematics, the physical and natural sciences, language, literature, writing, history, and the social sciences—all with various pathways to achieve a depth of study and academic mastery.  As central to its program, the Beacon School also offers robust opportunities for students to examine themselves and the world through the visual and performing arts— allowing them to fully engage in the creative process, make meaning, inspire, and achieve excellence. 

Beacon maintains a wide range of extra-curricular activities for students to develop their interests and pursue their passions in athletics, politics. civil rights and activism, social, racial and environmental justice, the arts, and diverse cultural, academic, and recreational endeavors.  These programs connect students to the wider world and advance values of teamwork, cooperation, collaboration, hard work, shared responsibility, and humility.  Together with its advisory system and caring staff, these programs provide the lynchpin for Beacon’s humanistic approach to building a joyful community.

Beacon is fully committed to adolescent development as full healthy human beings. The school actively promotes the social and emotional and physical well-being of its community and provides the necessary academic and social supports and services so that all students can learn and flourish in the Beacon program.  

Beacon is committed to being a diverse, equitable and inclusive community and to offering equitable access to its program to all students in New York City interested in attending. Beacon adheres to non-discriminatory, inclusive, and anti-racist policies, practices and pedagogies in all facets of its program and administration.  We provide a welcoming environment for intellectual and social development to students of all gender, sexual, racial, ethnic and religious identities.

Graduates of Beacon will be prepared to advance to institutions of high learning, enter the larger world and lead meaningful, self-actualizing, personally fulfilling lives.  The goal is for all students to become people of integrity: honorable, ethical, humane, creative, skillful and responsible global citizens who advance justice and make positive contributions to their communities and the world.

Beacon's Commitment to Equity

Beacon High School’s purpose and work are to create and sustain a student-centered, inquiry-focused educational space by establishing liberatory pathways in order to dismantle white supremacy and other systems of oppression.  We believe it is important to center empathy, curiosity, and joy along with a diverse and inclusive education. We seek results that are not only quantitative but qualitative.

As an educational institution for young people in New York City, we are co-conspiring towards justice in the present, which requires us to reconcile foundational and unresolved traumas. We must examine the institutional inequities upon which our school has been built and reflect on the ways we have upheld these systems and the resulting impacts within Beacon and beyond.

Our aim is to holistically care for all members of our diverse community by consistently accounting for our actions and redressing structural inequities. In the context of a white supremacist, capitalist, imperialist, patriarchal society, we radically commit our energies and resources to a vigilantly self-reflexive, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive school environment. Our journey is individual and collective.

"Our purpose is to give our students the opportunities, the resources, and the go-ahead to find meaning and success in their lives…"