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

3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  210 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
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 t ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 12th 2008 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2007)
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Dec 26, 2008 Ebadur rated it really liked it
lots of memories and reflections reading this book...

can a book ever be representative of all three thousands students and how many hundred teachers? I don't know.. Klein, an alumnus of Stuy from 1985, spends a year at Stuy to write this book. He gives a general sense of what's going on school-wide, but followes around a few particular students and teachers, focusing on their doings and feelings.

It was a nice read. Nostalgic.

The particular students are Romeo, a 97.5 average football team captai
Stuart Nachbar
A Class Apart is about a year in the life of New York’s Stuyvesant High School, one of the most competitive and academically successful secondary schools in the country. The author is an alumnus; sometimes he appears more in awe of the school and students than a non-alumnus might be.

Since its founding in 1904, Stuyvesant High School has along with its sister school, the Bronx High School of Science, stayed true to admission by competitive entrance examination. Stuyvesant is more selective than
Mike Mcfarland
Dec 26, 2007 Mike Mcfarland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Stuyvesant graduates and anyone with any interest in the school.
I was deathly afraid that this book would be smug and self-congratulatory. Look how many graduates go to Ivy League schools! Look how many win national awards! The building has escalators and a pool! All of these things may be true, but the school was more than just a list of accomplishments.

Klein captured the spirit really well: the ridiculous yearly SING! competition (each class writes and produces its own musical every year) that did more to unite students than anything, the excitement of a
Aug 16, 2009 Ellyn rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
The author spends a year at his alma mater, Stuyvesant High School in New York City, an ultracompetitive school for gifted kids that accepts only 3% of applicants based on an exam. The book is an accounting of the author's experience and of the students and teachers that he comes to know along the way. The book does a good job painting the good and bad parts of a high school such as Stuyvesant: it provides an incredible learning environment and foster remarkable achievement, but it's also an int ...more
May 09, 2010 Shinynickel rated it it was ok
An interesting exploration of Stuyvesant in New York, one of the best high schools in the U.S. In order to be admitted, students must score incredibly high on a citywide test. The children who go here often attend prep school for years ahead of time to make the cutoff, and are subject to intense demands and expectations throughout their high school career.

It's a fascinating school, and the book was a light, easy read. But the author is a Stuy graduate, and his love for the school, rather than il
Maisha Miles
This book provides interesting insight into one of the best public high schools in the country. For one school year, the author follows students and administrators through the halls of the school and into their neighborhoods and homes. I was left wanting more, perhaps a more in-depth perspective of some of the challenges the students face other than whether or not they get a 95.6 or a 95.8 or if they get into Harvard. The students would mobilize when the administration would seek to implement po ...more
Feb 22, 2008 Clare rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in education, gifted children, or someone who just enjoys a good read
I enjoyed this interesting book about a year at Stuyvesant High, a public school for gifted kids in New York. Though I was envious of the brains and talent of these students (including the author who graduated from Stuyvesant 20 years before writing the book), I was certainly not envious of the pressure put on them by parents to produce consistently high grades. The author follows several students and how their lives are played out at this unique public school. It was fun to read about Romeo, th ...more
Sep 04, 2007 Benjy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone, but especially alumni.
Shelves: 2007
It's weird going to a high school that has a significant amount of literature on it and Alec Klein's book was no exception. Seeing your bitchy assistant principal, your awesome government teacher, and your school musical contests turned into narratives is very weird after you've experienced them as life events. Almost everyone at the school when the book was written graduated before my time (I think I knew Jane, the heroin addicted poet), so at least I can look at the students with fresh eyes. T ...more
Sep 03, 2008 Danielle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in high school, Stuy alums
It was fun to read this book, just for the nostalgia. Lots of teachers I knew at Stuy were in the book, and I recognized what the students went through. This book highlights several exceptional Stuy students, and in other chapters discusses more general Stuy themes & issues, such as school politics, race, and Sing!. I found the writing a bit overdone, much like an ambitious high school student's college admission essay. It overreached, overdescribed. It came across as fake and hokey.

I liked
Oct 12, 2007 Erik rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm an alum from roughly the time of the author, so we went to Old Stuy on 15th Street instead of the new super mod building, which I recently visited and which is featured here. What never changes is the teachers and their dedication. It's a special place, even if the stress and push to succeed is a little like OCD. I place the blame squarely on the parents for this, a theme which Klein could have addressed a little better. He is very non-judgmental, almost like a camera, and the format is a li ...more
Jun 08, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Narrative nonfiction about one year in the life of Stuyvesant High in New York City, considered to be one of the best in the U.S. Stuyvesant is a public school, but children must pass a rigorous entrance exam to get in. Only about 3 percent do so, which makes admission to the high school tougher than to Harvard. It follows the lives of several students and teachers over the year, providing insight the pressures faced by students at an "elite" institution. I thought it was very well done.
Ms. G
Apr 01, 2015 Ms. G rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took a break mid-stream--was getting repetitive. Glad I returned to finish. In theory, I am not a fan "screened schools" or elitist schools, such as Stuyvesant --think a mix is always better -- but after reading I must admit I see the value of having high performers in one school--some of these kids were really impressing. Of course, the author, an alum, presented the schools mostly in a positive light, didn't reflect on the downside.
Jun 06, 2008 Jared rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really cool book about thhe people and oplaces that go ton stuyvesant frrom 12 year old child prodigies to drug addicted geniuses this book explores the craziness that is the hardest high school to get in to in new york. the loree that manyy outsiders don't get to know the author gets in to the stuyvesant tradition. So many different people and personalities in this humonggus school all sharing one thing in common smartness. great book would should suggest to the world.
Dec 09, 2008 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good overview of Stuyvesant...was good for me to read to catch up with the latest at Stuy. I'd recommend it to alum. It gave me a flavor of what environment my son is going through. I'm not sure how non-alum would find the book, since it spends a good amount of time expounding on how great Stuyvesant was and is, and I wonder if that would be a turn-off. (it is a great school, I still have many fond memories...but devoting many pages to that theme felt excessive.)

Nov 15, 2007 Denise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Stuyvesant HS alumni; educators; folks interested in high schools
This book takes you inside one of the best high schools in America to see what kids, faculty and administration think, and how they deal with the trials and tribulations of school life. Written over the course of the Spring, 2006 term, by a Washington Post journalist, who graduated from Stuyvesant twenty years ago, this is a good read...very insightful!
Jan 11, 2010 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend lent me this book to give me a glance into her High school life (she graduated from Stuy). I think that made it all the more interesting to read. It was an appealing read that followed a few key students and selected activities in the school. The book didn't blow me away, but it did engage me enough to keep reading.
Mar 03, 2008 Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty fascinating book about one of the top high schools in New York (or anywhere else for that matter). Personally I disagree with the concept of putting all of the top students (based on a test that only measures one or two types of genius) but I have to admit that I envied a school where the students didn't want to go home and demanded excellence.
Jun 05, 2008 Terry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh. This book adds nothing to the conversation. The author clearly adores his alma mater, so there's no real insight to the school, its administration, faculty, students, or their parents; it's merely a fairly fawning portrait by an ex-student. Too bad. School of Dreams, by Edward Humes, is a much more insightful book on a very similar topic.
Dec 20, 2008 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I would have loved my high school to have some focus on academics, this other extreme of the spectrum where they are the only focus carries its own set of issues and pressures. Good to know that there is a place where school is a positive escape though.
Aug 10, 2008 Shana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Pretty good. I kept wanting to stop reading because apparently Stuyvesant is eerily similar to my own high school, and it wasn't exactly causing waves of nostalgia. The prose gets over the top at times but it's interesting to see how everything ends up.
Dec 18, 2008 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how interesting this would be to someone who didn't go to Stuyvesant or isn't interested in education, but I would recommend it to all former stuy kids. I tore through it in a day and a half, and I thought it was a fair portrayal of what my (somewhat unusual) high school was like.
Dec 28, 2007 Joie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Major complaint was that it seemed disorganized. The story follows the high school through the spring semester, but the way it was written almost seemed out of order. A lot of jumping around and not a lot of constant narration on a character or topic. Just seemed too disjointed.
Oct 31, 2010 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fast-paced look into one of America's top high schools. I love getting to know different teachers, students, and administrators, but at the same time I would also have liked for the author to spend more time with each of his subjects.
Nov 30, 2008 Laurie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An indepth look at Stuyvesant, an intense, pressure driven public high school where students can have only two of the three: high grades, sleep or a social life. Interesting food for thought.
Sarra Lord
Sep 07, 2016 Sarra Lord rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Brought back a lot of memories, not all of them good. I've never actually been to the new Stuy building, I was there in the mid '80's.
Liz rated it really liked it
Apr 28, 2014
Leslie Ann
Leslie Ann rated it liked it
Sep 21, 2012
Erin rated it really liked it
Oct 03, 2007
Sasha rated it it was amazing
Jan 12, 2013
Mary Ellen
Mary Ellen rated it really liked it
Aug 24, 2010
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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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