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Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School

Tuition Fee: FREE


Located in Jersey City, New Jersey, at 123 Coles Street, McNair Academic High School stands as a distinguished magnet public high school within Hudson County. The school honors the legacy of Dr. Ronald E. McNair, an astronaut and scientist who tragically lost his life in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Operated under the Jersey City Public Schools district, McNair Academic has been maintaining its educational excellence since its establishment, evidenced by its accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools since 1979, albeit with a Probationary Accreditation status as of 2022.

Admission to McNair Academic is competitive, requiring prospective students and transfer students to undertake the PSAT as a part of the selection process. As of the 2022–23 academic year, the school boasted an enrollment of 701 students, with a faculty strength of 52 full-time equivalent teachers. This results in a student-teacher ratio of approximately 13.5:1. The school also addresses the needs of its diverse student body, with 26.2% of its students eligible for free lunch and 7.8% for reduced-cost lunch.

McNair Academic is renowned for its robust academic programs!

Thus, offering an extensive range of Advanced Placement (AP) courses alongside a comprehensive standard curriculum at the Honors level. The school’s commitment to academic excellence was highlighted in 2010 when it offered 21 AP courses, and a significant 83.8% of the participating students scored 3 or above, surpassing the statewide average by a considerable margin. Furthermore, the school has a commendable track record of graduating its entire class, with a consistent 100% graduation rate from 2008 to 2010 and all graduates expressing intentions to pursue higher education.

The school’s journey began in 1976 as Academic High School at 70 Sip Avenue. It underwent several changes, including a name change in 1996 to commemorate Dr. McNair and a relocation in 1997 to its current address for better safety and space. Notably, the school expanded its intake capacity from 140 to 200 students per incoming class starting in the 2004–05 academic year. The school also pays homage to its influential educators, having renamed its library and stage after respected teachers Vincent Russo and Dr. Sara Solberg, and dedicating its renovated gym to Sharon Felton, a long-serving teacher and volleyball coach.

McNair Academic High School has amassed an impressive array of accolades!

Moreover, reflecting its dedication to educational excellence. These include the prestigious Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence, high rankings in national publications such as The Daily Beast and The Washington Post, and recognition as a Star School by the New Jersey Department of Education. The school has also been distinguished in various rankings by U.S. News & World Report and New Jersey Monthly magazine, consistently placing high at state and national levels.

In adherence to maintaining high standards, McNair Academic implements a stringent dress code and sets rigorous academic expectations. This includes mandatory community service hours and maintaining a minimum grade threshold for course completion. In terms of athletics, the McNair Academic Cougars are a formidable presence in the Hudson County Interscholastic League, achieving numerous state sectional championships in various sports.

The school also fosters a vibrant culture of extracurricular engagement, collaborating with other institutions for visual and performing arts programs and encouraging student-led initiatives, such as the creation of a club celebrating the Marvel Comics superhero Kamala Khan.

Guided by Principal Thomas Macagnano and a dedicated administrative team, McNair Academic continues to nurture and produce notable alumni, contributing significantly to various fields. The school’s influence extends even into popular culture, inspiring the fictional setting of Marvel’s superhero Ms. Marvel’s high school.

Comprehensive Review?

McNair Academic High School emerges as an exemplary institution, combining academic rigor with a broad spectrum of extracurricular activities. Its commitment to educational excellence is evident in its high national rankings, successful AP program, and a 100% college-bound graduate rate. The school’s legacy extends beyond academics, fostering a culture of diversity, inclusivity, and community engagement, which is commendable. Additionally, McNair’s influence in popular culture, as seen in its connection to Marvel’s Ms. Marvel, highlights its cultural significance and inspirational role. The school’s history of adaptation, expansion, and honoring its community members illustrates a dynamic and evolving educational environment that not only prioritizes academic achievement but also values its heritage and the contributions of its educators and students.