The Frederick A.O. Schwarz Children’s Center, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, presents Saturday Academy for students in grades 8–12.

About Saturday Academy

Saturday Academy is a free six-session program for students interested in American History or SAT preparation. There’s no homework and all course materials are provided.

Saturday Academy was the recipient of the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the White House and was featured in New York Magazine’s “Best of New York 2011” issue, which you can read about here.

Spring 2014 courses meet on Saturdays, March 15, 22, 29, and April 5, 12, and 26. Students are expected to attend all six sessions and will receive a Certificate of Achievement at the end of the program. Students may enroll in one or two courses. Please look carefully at the times each course is offered, indicated below.

Presentation of Saturday Academy at the City Museum is made possible through the generous support of the Charina Endowment Fund.


Spring 2014 Course Offerings

Bell Curves SAT Skills

Instructors: Bell Curves Educators
Open to students in grades 10–12
9:00 am–10:20 am or 10:30 am–12:00 pm

The Bell Curves SAT Skills course is designed to help students succeed on the SAT exam. The course will improve students’ understanding of the skills tested by the SAT and teach them strategies for applying those skills in efficient ways. With the help of expert and supportive instructors, students will learn how to pace themselves and will become more familiar with the test format and question types. After taking two mandatory practice tests, students will leave the classroom prepared and excited for the big exam.

Students in the SAT class will be required to take two free practice SAT exams on the 1st and 6th days of the program, (Saturdays March 15 and April 26) from 12:45–5:00 pm, directly after their regular morning classes. Please save the date and time!

The Birth of Cities in Early America: Urban Planning in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington D.C.

Instructor: Kathryn K. Lasdow, Ph.D. Candidate in American History, Columbia University
Open to students in grades 8–12
9:00–10:20 am or 10:30 am–12:00 pm

During the American Revolution, as the colonies declared independence from Great Britain, cities were hotbeds of political and social change. This course will explore early city planning in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington DC, where Pierre Charles L’Enfant, in 1791, was chosen by President Washington to design the nation’s capital. Using plans, drawings, maps, and other primary sources, students will study the historical events and key figures involved in designing these cities in the Early Republic.

City As Canvas: Public Art and Urban Expression in the 1970s – the Present

Instructor: Samantha Schott, B.A. in Sociology and Art History/Communications, McGill University; Educator at El Museo del Barrio
Open to students in grades 8–12
9:00–10:20 am or 10:30 am–12:00 pm

The 1960’s and 1970’s witnessed new artistic movements, some of which, like graffiti “writing” on subways and buildings, were very controversial. Nonetheless, the graffiti spawned a worldwide phenomenon, shaping music, fashion, and popular visual culture. East Harlem was home to many graffiti writers and artists. Students will visit public art sites, such as The Spirit of East Harlem, that reflect neighborhood identity and others sites depicting community figures, political leaders, artists, and activists. The class will also view original works from the time period in the Museum’s new exhibition, City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection, and bring a historical perspective to these living records of the shared experience of late 20th-century urban life.

Freedom and Slavery in the Age of the American Revolution

Instructor: Eric B. Herschthal, Ph.D. Candidate in American History, Columbia University
Open to students in grades 9–12
9:00-10:20 am or 10:30 am-12:00 pm

The United States was founded on a central paradox: evoking individual freedom at a time when millions of people were enslaved. This course will explore the contradiction of Americans fighting for freedom against British tyranny while upholding slavery. The class will view printed material that flourished during the Age of Revolution—including newspapers, pamphlets, and slave narratives--to gain historical perspective on the question of slavery in an age of freedom. Students will also learn how the American Revolution influenced and was influenced by other revolutions in the Atlantic World, from the Haitian slave revolts of the 1790s to the many other freedom movements in Latin America

Musical Theater and the American Experience: A History of Broadway

Instructor: K. Ian Shin, Ph.D. Candidate in American History, Columbia University
Open to students in grades 9–12
12:15–1:45 pm

Students will explore the history of Broadway, New York’s renowned theater district, and learn how it evolved as a place, a business, and a cultural icon. The course will begin with the physical development of the district and the relocation of theaters to the area surrounding Times Square. Students will then examine the contributions that African Americans, immigrants, and other social groups made to theater arts as well as plays that reflected multiculturalism and the changing concepts of American national identity from the late 19th century to the present. Students will study excerpts from such productions as The Melting Pot, West Side Story, and In the Heights as historical documents that interpret the experiences of diverse groups. They will also utilize photographs, costumes, designs, and film clips from the Museum's rich theater collection.

How to Apply

All applications must be received online by Friday, February 14, 2014.


Enrollment is first-come, first-served. Priority seating in all classes will be given to students who live and/or attend schools in East and Central Harlem (zip codes: 10026, 10027, 10029, 10030, 10035, 10037, and 10039). Please apply early—space is limited! Accepted candidates will be notified by email, mail, or telephone by Tuesday, March 4th.

Should you experience any trouble applying online, please contact or call 917.492.3401 to request that an application be mailed to your home address for you to fill out and return to the Museum of the City of New York.