William A. Shine Great Neck South High School

William A. Shine Great Neck South High School (commonly Great Neck South, GNSHS or South High School) is an American four-year public high school. It is located in the Lake Success village of Great Neck, New York, serving students in grades 9 through 12.

William A. Shine Great Neck South High School
341 Lakeville Road


TypeComprehensive Public High School
School districtGreat Neck Union Free School District[2]
PrincipalChristopher Gitz[3]
Faculty107.4 FTEs[4]
Enrollment1,193 (2016-17)[4]
Student to teacher ratio11.3:1[4]
Color(s)Orange and Blue         [5]
Team nameRebels
NewspaperThe Southerner
WebsiteSchool website

As of the 2016–17 school year, the school had an enrollment of 1,193 students and 111.56 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 10.69:1. There were 180 students (15% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 46 (3.9% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.[4]

Great Neck South is one of three high schools in the Great Neck School District, which includes Great Neck North High School and Village School.[6] Great Neck South offers its 1,198 students 75 classrooms, along with separate classrooms for students with disabilities.[7][8][9] The school opened its doors in 1958, and was named Great Neck South High School until it was renamed in 2006.

Campus history and school facilities

In 1949 the School District acquired the 124-acre (0.50 km2) South complex in Lake Success from the former estate of Henry Phipps, Jr., steelmaster and one-time partner of Andrew Carnegie.[1][10][11] His mansion and 9 acres (36,000 m2) were given to the district by the Phipps heirs; the mansion is now the Phipps Administration Building.[1][10][11] The rest of the property was purchased for $279,000.[1][10][11] In 1957, South High School was built on property surrounding the administration building.[12] When the estate was donated, there was a stipulation that part of it be kept in its natural state.[12] That condition was met during construction.[12]

In 1958, Great Neck Senior High School was renamed Great Neck North High School to differentiate it from the district's new Great Neck South High School.[1][10][11] Prior to 1979, Great Neck South High School included Grades 10 through 12.[13] But in 1980, Grade 9 was added to the high school.[13] Today the school has 75 classrooms.[8] In 2006, the school was renamed to honor Dr. William A. Shine for his respected status in the Great Neck School District.[14]

In 1980 Great Neck South added the 9th grade. As of 1988 Great Neck South has open campus privileges. Great Neck South has more restrictions on its open campus than Great Neck North. Rona Telsey, a spokesperson for the district, said that while Great Neck North is near a major shopping center, Great Neck South is further away. In addition, she said that a student would need to use a car to go off-campus for lunch. Prior to 1980, all students had open campus. In 1980, the school decided that younger students at Great Neck needed more restrictions than older students. Beginning in 1980, only 11th and 12th graders at Great Neck South had open campus privileges.[15]

Mascot flag history

Great Neck South High School first opened in 1958 and adopted a school mascot. The school elected a “Confederate battle flag and a rifle-toting soldier.”[16] For decades the flag was an integral part of school spirit. Great Neck South’s Quarterback David Gurfein from the class of ‘82 recalled, “The [battle] flag was on our school ring burned into metal. We wore it in our jackets. We would go down to Middle Neck Road waving these confederate flags. We had so much team spirit, so much unity, so much energy.”[16] While the flag has ties to the Confederate South, the school and town alike did not identify it with this history but rather saw it solely as a representation of their school and spirit. A former student remembering his time at South said, “We were sort of in a Great Neck bubble.”[16] Soon enough that bubble erupted when a lynching occurred in Alabama in 1982. Shortly after learning about this incident and gaining a better understanding of the flag’s history, Gurfein attempted to have the flag removed from the school. Gurfein quickly learned that others had previously attempted the same task but the student body as a whole would not agree to the removal. Gurfein realized that he needed to take a different approach and redefined the concept of a “Rebel”. The new rebel fought tyranny and injustice, inspired by the events surrounding the Revolutionary War. With the new rebel, the student body supported this change and the battle flag was removed from Great Neck South.


Newsweek ranked Great Neck South High School 49th out of 500 in its 2011 list Best High Schools in America (the school has been cited in Newsweek's public school rankings on several other occasions).[17][18] Students are offered honors (H) and accelerated courses as well.[19] One of the Advanced Placement physics courses tested the audience response technology which was successful and the Great Neck School District has expanded the technology to other schools.[20]

The majority of South High students (more than 87%) achieve a B average or better.[19] However, only a small percentage of South High students (12%) were recognized as finalists or received Letters of Commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.[19] 98% of recent South High School graduates entered college.[19]

Special education programs

Great Neck South is a comprehensive public high school. Therefore, it is required to meet the needs of students who are at-risk of failing academically. These programs listed below are designed for them. Some students who are at-risk may be asked to leave Great Neck South to attend a special education school, special class operated by another school district or other in-district special education program.[21] Parents are urged to look at these programs to determine if these are in the best interest of their child. If Great Neck South fails in providing the best interest for the child, parents are urged to use their "due process procedures" to challenge the school for not providing a "Free Appropriate Public Education" that is guaranteed by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).[22]

  • Peak Experience — Self-contained class.[7] The Peak Experience Program is located at Great Neck South High School.[23] The Peak Experience student is committed to a two-year program beginning in 9th grade.[23] It is designed to meet each student’s academic and behavioral needs based on their IEP goals.[23] The Peak Experience classroom enhances each student’s individual potential through a collaborative effort with guidance, the psychology team, and outdoor education.[23] Parent groups and ongoing communication with the classroom teacher and School Psychologist are established as an essential aspect of the program.[23] Functional Behavioral Assessments are developed and utilized with each student.[23]
  • Resource Room[24]
  • Special class (Individual Development)[7]
  • Team-taught classes (Integrated classes)[7][25]

Cultural Heritage

One of the most popular events at Great Neck South is Cultural Heritage Night, where students put on a two-hour extravaganza of multicultural art, theater and dance.[26]

Blazing Trails-4-Autism

Great Neck South has hosted the Blazing Trails-4-Autism on their campus.[27] In 2009 the Run/Walk was selected to be a part of the USATF-Long Island Grand Prix of Long Island Road Races.[27]



The student body in the 2014–2015 school year consisted of:[28]

  • 0 American Indian or Alaska Native students or 0% of the student body
  • 28 Black or African American students or 2% of the student body
  • 105 Hispanic or Latino students or 9% of the student body
  • 607 Asian or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students or 50% of the student body
  • 472 White students or 39% of the student body
  • 6 Multiracial students or 0% of the student body

The student population at Great Neck South is predominantly Asian American, with a large White minority and smaller Hispanic and Latino Americans and African American minorities. Approximately 128 students (11%) will be classified as Special Ed.[9] Approximately 103 (8.7%) students will be receiving TESL services.[9]

Great Neck South's total population is currently 1,198 (53.5% male, 46.5% female).[9]

  • Grade 9: 290 (2015: 271)[9]
  • Grade 10: 287 (2015: 302)[9]
  • Grade 11: 307 (2015: 299)[9]
  • Grade 12: 314 (2015: 328)[9]

From the 2016 senior class, 318 students graduated,[29] while 4 students did not.[9] However, 4 students graduated during the summer of 2016.[9]

Notable alumni


  1. District History; URL accessed October 27, 2009.
  2. NYS Admin Listing; URL accessed September 26, 2009.
  3. Principal's name; URL accessed February 27, 2019
  4. "GREAT NECK SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  5. School colors; URL accessed November 6, 2009.
  6. , accessed November 1, 2009
  7. special education; URL accessed July 22, 2011.
  8. "75 classrooms"; URL accessed February 18, 2018.
  9. Data Summary for 2015-16, accessed November 15, 2016
  10. "This is Great Neck", (The League of Women Voters of Great Neck).
  11. "Lucky 7", (Match, Richard).
  12. Henry Phipps, accessed July 26, 2011.
  13. Schools Split on 'Open Campus' - The New York Times; URL accessed November 2, 2009.
  14. South High To Be Named for Bill Shine; URL accessed July 13, 2006.
  15. Saslow, Linda. "Schools Split on 'Open Campus'." The New York Times. October 23, 1988. Retrieved on October 18, 2011.
  16. "Flag History". Great Neck South High School History. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
  17. "America's Top Public High Schools | Newsweek Best High Schools | Newsweek.com". Newsweek.com. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  18. Page 2; URL accessed July 22, 2011.
  19. Great Neck Public Schools Web site, PDF document titled "Great Neck Public Schools: South High School", accessed July 22, 2011
  20. Students Click, and a Quiz Becomes a Game; URL accessed July 26, 2011.
  21. In-district and out-of-district placements; URL accessed November 6, 2009.
  22. Free Appropriate Public Education under Section 504; URL accessed November 6, 2009.
  23. The Peak Experience, accessed September 24, 2009
  24. Resource Room, accessed September 24, 2009
  25. Page 7, accessed July 14, 2011
  26. Surge in Asian Enrollment Alters Schools; URL accessed July 27, 2011.
  27. Run/Walk; URL accessed November 6, 2009.
  28. Great Neck South High School, accessed December 29, 2015
  29. Great Neck South High School Class Of 2016, accessed November 15, 2016
  30. Fischler, Marcelle S "For ‘Hairspray’ Star, ‘My Darn Dream Come True’", The New York Times, July 8, 2007. Accessed July 11, 2007. "In her sophomore year, unable to find her niche, she switched from the John L. Miller-Great Neck North High School to the Village School, the district’s alternative high school, with 50 students. After class, she joined the theater program at the William A. Shine Great Neck South High School..."
  31. "Yin Chang". IMDb. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  32. "Famous Great Neck Alumni From 1980s", Great Neck Public Schools; URL accessed March 29, 2006.
  33. "Quinn Early" at ESPN; URL accessed March 29, 2006.
  34. "Famous Great Neck Alumni From the 1960s". Great Neck Public Schools. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  35. http://www.emmys.com/awards/nominees-winners/2010/comedy-series
  36. https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=26978360&privcapId=6100004
  37. "Zachary Wissner-Gross wins Hertz Fellowship", Hertz Foundation, November 30, 2007. Accessed January 5, 2017. "Wissner-Gross graduated in 2003 from Great Neck South High School, Great Neck, N.Y., where he was a National Merit Scholar."

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