Past Features

July 11, 2007 (Vol. 5, No. 10)

Celia Cruz High School Graduates First Class

Members of the Celia Cruz High School graduating class

Four years of music lessons coupled with an intense course schedule have come to an end for students in the first graduating class of the Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music. Surrounded by family, friends, and teachers, students celebrated their success while setting their sights on the future—ninety-six percent will be moving on to college.

Students prepare to turn their tassels.

Over the years, students in the school have continuously surpassed expectations, including academic targets set by the City and State. In addition, school ensembles have performed both locally and nationally at venues like Gracie Mansion, Lincoln Center, NYU, and Disney's Magic Kingdom. Every year, both as soloists and with their ensembles, students have received high ratings from the New York State School Music Association.

Lehman President Ricardo R. Fernández with Celia Cruz High School Principal Dr. William Rodriguez.

As they head toward college, members of the Class of '07 have received over $1.3 million in grants and scholarships. Graduates have been accepted to both public and private institutions, including Lehman College, Niagara University, Long Island University, NYU, SUNY-Oneonta, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Two students, Shavonne Bell and Saroya Williams, won two of the five $5,000 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame scholarships awarded to New York City high school students for the first time this year. Bell was also the class valedictorian.

School ensemble member performs at graduation ceremony.

Lehman President Ricardo R. Fernández, who delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremony, praised the class for its perseverance and hard work. "As the first students of this new school, you faced the new and unknown," he said. "You succeeded because you worked hard and because you faced the unfamiliar with grace and maturity."

Named after the legendary salsa queen Celia Cruz, the high school was founded in 2003 as part of the Bronx New Century High School Initiative/ New Visions for Public Schools. It is the first and only music high school in the Bronx.