|Bergen County Academies|
200 Hackensack Avenue
|Type||Public magnet high school|
|School district||Bergen County Technical Schools|
|NCES School ID||3401470|
|Enrollment||1,098 (as of 2018-19)|
|Student to teacher ratio||11.5:1|
|Athletics conference||Big North Conference|
The Bergen County Academies (BCA), commonly referred to as Bergen Academies or as the Academies due to its seven academic and professional divisions, is a tuition-free public magnet high school located in Hackensack, New Jersey that serves students in the ninth through twelfth grades from Bergen County, New Jersey. The school was founded by Dr. John Grieco (founder of the Academies at Englewood) in 1991.
Founded in 1991, BCA was named as one of the 23 highest performing high schools in the United States by The Washington Post. BCA is a National Blue Ribbon School, a member of the National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools, home of eleven 2020 Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholars including two Finalists, and a Model School in the Arts as named by the New Jersey Department of Education.
As of the 2018-19 school year, the school had an enrollment of 1,098 students and 95.8 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student-teacher ratio of 11.5:1. There were 35 students (3.2% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 21 (1.9% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.
In 2015, Bergen County Academies was one of 15 schools in New Jersey, and one of 9 public schools, to be recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School in the exemplary high performing category by the United States Department of Education. In the same year, Newsweek ranked BCA 5th out of the top 500 public schools in America in 2015 and 4th in New Jersey.
Inside Jersey magazine ranked BCA 1st in its 2014 ranking of New Jersey's Top Performing High Schools. In the same year, The Daily Beast ranked BCA 15th in the nation among over 700 magnet and charter schools, 2nd among the 25 Best High Schools in the Northeast, and 1st among schools in New Jersey.The Washington Post designated BCA as one of 23 top-performing schools with elite students intentionally excluded from its list of America's Most Challenging High Schools "because, despite their exceptional quality, their admission rules and standardized test scores indicate they have few or no average students."
In October 2020, Niche ranked the school as the #1 public high school in the nation, as well as the #1 magnet school, #3 college prep public high school, #5 teachers in a public high school, and #7 STEM high school (all for America). It swept all of these categories on the state, county, and New York City area level, with the exception of STEM school, which it came in second for with NJ and NYC area, and college prep, which it came in second for with the NYC area.
BCA is divided into seven academic and professional divisions which are often referred to by their single-word nicknames or acronyms. However, BCA is treated as a single high school within the district and the state. BCA has an extended school day from 8:00 AM to 4:10 PM. The day starts with a 4-minute Information Gathering Session (IGS) followed by 27 modules (commonly referred to as "mods") that last 15 minutes each.
There are 18 academic departments, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Culinary Arts, Engineering, English, Health/PE, History, Journalism, Mathematics, Music, Physics, Studio Arts and Graphic Communications, Technology, Theater Arts, Senior Experience, Visual Arts, and World Languages. All academies require four years of English Language, mathematics, social studies, and physical education, as well as three years of science and world language. All students take three years of projects and clubs, with clubs placed at the last three mods on Wednesday. Seniors participate in Senior Experience, an internship program through which seniors work and learn for the full business day each Wednesday instead of reporting to school. In addition, 40 hours of community service are required for graduation.
AAST was founded on a charter school framework in 1992 with the mission of preparing students for careers in math and science by promoting a problem-solving, project-based, technical learning environment. AAST has departed from this model and has since adopted a more standard college-preparatory curriculum.
ABF is the only academy in which most students participate in the full IB Diploma Programme. Students in ABF take courses in economics, marketing, management, business law, management information systems, and business ethics. BCA was certified to offer the IB Diploma Programme in January 2004 and is one of only 17 schools in New Jersey to offer the IB program at the high school level.
Founded in 1997 and originally called the Academy for Culinary Arts (ACA), ACAHA represents a culinary vocational program that was reworked to give students a more academic focus. After being reorganized into the academic, college-prep academies, the name changed to the present name in 2002 to reflect the new curriculum. Head instructor Mary Beth Brace has been recognized as Advisor of the Year for SkillsUSA and has received attention for her devotion as a baking and culinary arts instructor. Chef John Branda, who worked in the food service industry for 30 years, was the saucier at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and co-owner of an upscale Fair Lawn, New Jersey restaurant.
This academy's core curriculum is similar to that of AAST, but provides more room for courses in electronics and design. The program encourages students to take part in competitions such as "BattleBots IQ." Students in AEDT take courses such as Digital Electronics, Principles of Engineering, Introduction to Engineering Design, and Electrical Engineering.
Students in AMST have more required biology courses than other academies, which include Medical Science Seminar, Biotechnology Lab, Advanced Topics in Medicine, and Anatomy and Physiology. AMST is mainly for students who are more interested in pursuing a career in the medical field and have common interests in all sciences.
ATCS has a focus on the world of computers and the Internet. Its students are prepared for careers such as computer programming, software engineering, and other computer- and engineering-related professions.
AVPA is subdivided into three divisions: Visual, Music, and Theatre.
During the 2019-2020 school year, BCA had over 130 clubs.
BCA has a Model United Nations team that runs its own Model UN conference. The BCA Model UN team has won Best Delegation at numerous conferences, including those hosted by Yale University, Princeton University, the George Washington University, and New York University. The BCA Model UN team has also earned many individual delegate awards.
In 2008, the team won first place in Division B at the Princeton University Mathematics Competition, an annual competition attended routinely by the team. The school routinely has 10+ students qualifying for the USAMO (United States Mathematical Olympiad), with a student winning the competition in 2012. The school captured first place at the 2009 ARML Local competition, another routine annual competition. In 2015, student Ryan Alweiss competed on the American team at the International Math Olympiad, helping the US win the competition for the first time since 1994 with a 98th percentile score of 31.
BCA's BattleBots IQ team, known as the Titanium Knights, won the 2006 national heavyweight championship in the high school division with the robot E2V2, and won two other awards for another 120-pound robot, Knightrous. In previous years, the team has won second, third, and fourth place titles in BBIQ, and affiliated student teams have won numerous awards in Northeast Robotics Club events.
BCA shares its sports program with the Bergen County Technical Schools in Teterboro and Paramus. The boys' teams, called the Bergen Tech Knights, and the girls' teams, the Bergen Tech Lady Knights, compete in the Big North Conference, following a reorganization of the Northern New Jersey sports leagues by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. In the 2009-2010 school year, the school competed in the North Jersey Tri-County Conference, which was established on an interim basis to facilitate the realignment. Before the realignment, Bergen Tech had been placed in the Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League (NNJIL) at the start of the Fall 2006 athletic season. With 1,669 students in grades 10-12, the school was classified by the NJSIAA for the 2019-20 school year as Group IV for most athletic competition purposes, which included schools with an enrollment of 1,060 to 5,049 students in that grade range. The school was classified by the NJSIAA as Group V North for football for 2018-2020.
Athletic achievements for the Bergen Tech Knights and Bergen Tech Lady Knights include:
The Bergen County Academies is located on the John Grieco Campus of the Bergen County Technical Schools District in Hackensack. The school occupies a sprawling main building which runs along Hackensack Avenue as well as a nearby Environmental Science Center (ESC) building.
The school is considered the brainchild of John Grieco and began as a single academy, "The Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology" (AAST), which shared the current campus with the Bergen County Technical High School now located in Teterboro. The first group of AAST students was inducted in 1992 for the graduating class of 1996.
In 1997, additional academies opened on the campus: the Academy for Business and Computer Technology (ABCT), the Academy for Engineering and Design Technology (AEDT), and the Academy for Medical Science Technology (AMST). The following year saw the opening of three career institutes, renamed a year later to become academies: the Academy for Culinary Arts (ACA), the Academy for Power and Transportation (APT), and the Academy for Visual Arts and Graphic Communications (AVAGC). Soon, all seven programs began focusing on college preparation, adopting a liberal arts curriculum with a focus on their respective fields.
In 2001, a dispute initiated by the Bergen County School Administrators' Association focused on what Paramus Superintendent Janice Dime called "elitism." Several sending districts threatened to withdraw funding from the school. In response, the Bergen County Technical Schools agreed to increase the transparency of the admissions process and enter into talks with a number of sending districts.
In 2002, APT was eliminated. ABCT was split into the Academy for Business and Finance (ABF) and the Academy for Telecommunications and Computer Science (ATCS). In 2012, ATCS turned its attention away from Telecommunications towards Computer Science, and was rechristened the Academy for Technology and Computer Science. ACA added hotel administration to its coursework and became the Academy for Culinary Arts and Hospitality Administration (ACAHA). AVAGC expanded its scope to include performing arts and became the Academy for Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA). The school itself also changed its name numerous times, from "Bergen County Regional Academies" to "Bergen Academies" to "Bergen County Academy" and to the present "Bergen County Academies."