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Pocantico Hills Students Choose Their Own High School

Pocantico Hills eighth-grade students have to select one of three high schools to attend following graduation.
Pocantico Hills eighth-grade students have to select one of three high schools to attend following graduation. Photo Credit: Contributed

POCANTICO HILLS, N.Y. -- Unlike most school districts in the area, Pocantico Hills serves only grades K through eighth grade, which means the 8th grade graduation is more than a moving-up ceremony.

It is a true graduation, and with this structure, students face a challenging decision of which high school they will attend in the fall.

The students have three high schools to choose from: Sleepy Hollow High School, Pleasantville High School or Briarcliff High School. The process is a little like choosing a college, with the process beginning early in the year as eighth graders meet with school counselor James McVeigh to discuss the options and try to evaluate which school may be the best match for them.

“All the schools have great academic programs, so, just like choosing a college, it’s about the best fit,” said McVeigh. “Ultimately, students will find the right college no matter which high school they attend because each of the high schools do a remarkable job at preparing our students.”

Visits to each school are organized for all students during the day and for parents in the evening. There are presentations from Pocantico Hills graduates who come back to talk about the high school they chose, and how the selection was made. If students are still undecided, they can shadow a current student to get a feel for the school.

For parents, there are a series of Pocantico Hills Board of Education meetings where they meet with the principal of each high school and hear a talk about the school’s possibilities, and have their questions answered.

After that, parents can also attend two special meetings to help them with the choice. By mid-January, families must decide.

“It is really a family decision,” said McVeigh. "We have extremely happy students in all three high schools and our eighth graders are very excited to meet their new cohort of peers in September.”

The tuition to each school is paid by the district in a long-standing agreement.

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