Message to the Graduating Class of 2018

Congratulations Bronx Latin Class of 2018! Bronx Latin has been called a “breaking all odds school” – and it is true. I am inspired, each and every day that I step into this building by what is happening within these walls.  We are a small school, but we are a family – and a family where we persist and are pushing each other to be our best, rooting for success – and helping to pick each other up and support each other when we fail.

But this graduating class in particular has made Bronx Latin enormously proud, and attained successes that maybe many of you sitting in the audience or those of you in your caps and gowns may not be aware of.

This senior class – the Class of 2018 – is an inspiration to me and the community.

  • This cohort of 2018 boasts Bronx Latin’s 94%! Out of those graduates 64% are graduating considered “college ready” in both math and English.  According to the New York State Education Department statistics, the graduation rate in the South Bronx is only 56%, and just 12% of those are considered “college and career ready”. Our graduation rate far exceeds the average for the South Bronx, and New York City as a whole – and our college readiness rate is over 5 times the average college ready rate for the South Bronx. If that isn’t “breaking the odds” than I don’t know what is.
  • 31 out of 75 graduates today will also be graduating with their Advanced Regents diplomas! This is 40% of our graduating class!

Why, you may ask, am I spending so much time talking about these statistics? And my answer would be to tell you that these numbers matter. That the work we are doing here at Bronx Latin every day matters. Did you know, according to a research study from Georgetown University,  that in the last decade over 12 million jobs were created – and out of those 12 million jobs only 80,000 went to people with a high school diploma. That is less than ½% – not .05% but HALF of one percent. For all intensive purposes that number may as well be 0%. Yes – getting a high school diploma is important and that is why we are all gathered here today – but your high school diploma that you receive here today is not the end goal – but it is the key that will help you unlock and access college and attaining a college diploma. If you haven’t been privileged enough this year to be stopped by Ms. Fiorentino in the halls and read Bronx Latin’s mission statement – you will get a small taste now. Focus on the last line “We strive to empower our students to thrive in and graduate from college and positively impact their communities.” Did you catch that? The goal of Bronx Latin was never to get you to graduate high school – we knew with your hard work and the love and dedication of your teachers you would make that goal. Bronx Latin’s goal is for you to go to college. And not just go to college – but to thrive in college. To graduate in 4 years. And to come back to this community to make it a better place. And is Bronx Latin reaching that goal? I think we are. I follow many of our alumni, and it is with great pride I have watched so many in recent months and years posting pictures of themselves in their caps and gowns at their COLLEGE graduations. That is what Bronx Latin  -all the hard work, the constant pushing by teachers who love you, the push to take AP classes, SAT prep, the persistence of your college counselor Ms. Nova, the conversations with Ms. Fiorentino – that it is what it is all about. Ensuring that you all thrive and succeed in college.

In the end I hope you remember one word I hope it is this: persistence. Bronx Latin to me is the embodiment of persistence – the students, teachers, and parents. We all persist and keep pushing to be the best we can be. Brian Dyson, the former CEO of Coca Cola said “Don’t give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over til the moment you stop trying.” Persistence. You just finished 4 years of high school – the struggles, the fight for your grades, Regents exams, family issues – yet you are sitting before me in your caps and gowns. Why? Persistence. Some of you may have faced what seemed to be impossible odds and at the end may have slowed up or felt like quitting- yet you never gave up and you persisted.  In college you will face many obstacles. Look around this room – this is the last time that we will all be sitting in the same room together. When you leave for college you will be farther from home, separated from friends, and away from family. But if I know one thing – it is that you have learned how to persist. You will face dark times, you will be challenged. You may feel like giving up – but I encourage and implore you to take what you learned in the walls of this building – and continue to persist.

Bronx Latin Class of 2018 – you have made me so proud. You have made Bronx Latin proud. While so many people focus on what is wrong with the world around them – you here in this room are a shining example of what’s right. I love you. I have faith that you will continue to persist.

Congratulations Graduates!


Assistant Principal, Anna Nelson

Bronx Latin 2016 Alumni featured in Paul Smith College paper The Apollo

Bronx Latin 2016 alumni Cristhian Gonzalez, a sophomore at Paul Smith College in New York was featured the Paul Smith paper The Apollo! See the article here:

People of PSC: Cristhian Gonzalez

By Randy Martinez

People of PSC: Cristhian GonzalezThe Second Transition

A Native of the Dominican Republic, Cristhian Gonzalez came to the states 7 years ago; moving to the Bronx, New York. When he first arrived, it was an incredible learning curve to understand the cities’ inner workings and how to navigate it. He went from living in a country with a population in the low millions, to living in just a city of the same size, and transitioning was one of the most complex challenges Cristhian says he has had to face to date. Yet, he realized earlier on that to live in New York City was an opportunity many adults desired as a teenager; he had to embrace his chance to live in one of the most culturally stimulating places in the world. While living in the city and attending Bronx Latin High School, Cristhian never could have thought that at the end of his senior year of high school he would be transitioning once again, this time to the Adirondack State Park, a place completely different than what had just become his new normal over the years.

As the summer ended, I walked away with a newfound friend and a deep respect for his individual journey

Cristhian Gonzalez enjoys the freedom of living in the Adirondack wilderness, but that hasn’t always been the case. Through the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Cristhian, like a few others began a summer session at Paul Smith’s College to prepare for the coming year, and this is when I met him myself. There is a saying that when you are a Dominican you can always identify a fellow Dominican. Whether this is true or not I cannot say. But one math class I leaned over and complained to Cristhian in full blown Spanish, not forgetting the many colloquial words found on the island, just knowing he would understand; and I was right. We both talked frequently about the uniqueness of this campus, how free it feels to be a student amongst 14,000 acres and to view it all as your classroom. As the summer ended, I walked away with a newfound friend and a deep respect for his individual journey. Personally, for me it was challenging to move from my home in the city to this isolated campus, I could only imagine what it felt like for Cristhian to move from his home to a new home and then to start the process all over again.

Cristhian began his academic career at Paul Smith’s College in the Entrepreneurial Business Studies program, where after speaking to his advisors and Professor Joseph Conto, he found his way over to his current major: Hotel, Resort, and Tourism Management. As Cristhian put it, “…When I started in the Business program I liked it and thought it was a great start, but deep down I knew what I really wanted to do was work with people of all cultures and be in a position in which I could travel frequently, and I figured that was in the hospitality industry.”

Today, Cristhian continues to work toward his degree while also maintaining a role in our college local DECA Chapter. DECA is a global organization based around preparing future leaders in the hospitality and business field. After being at Paul Smith’s these last two years, it is clear to Cristhian that the Adirondacks and our campus is a special place to learn. In November, he traveled with a fellow hospitality student to Philadelphia to represent our college and let other students out there know that studying hospitality at Paul Smith’s College is an experience unlike any other. This April, Cristhian will be continuing his work with DECA and attending DECA’s International Career Development Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Meet Bronx Latin’s first published student author – Savana Rodriguez!

Bronx Latin 12th grade student Savana Rodriguez just published her first book, Ocean of Time, which is available on Amazon. Savana has been a student at Bronx Latin since the 6th grade, and will be graduating this year. The book is the first part in a series that Savana is writing. The description on the back of the book reads :

Delaney Cooper is the Captain of the Crescent Inferno, an all-male pirate crew with the ruthlessness of the most savage of thieves but morals of a knight in shining armor. She makes a life out of plunder, never taking more than she needed, with her second-in-command and lover at her side. She thinks she has decades of this life ahead of her. She is wrong. Soon, she is blindsided with the new knowledge that she can cross into different centuries through the passage of oceanic whirlpools but the discovery comes at a high, terrible price. When she crosses paths with Cassander Thatcher, another time-traveler, they butt heads almost instantly. Surprises come at her from every corner, and she’s suspicious of them all. He is a mysterious stranger in more ways than one, but he can show her the way to navigate her new, upturned life as a time-traveler. Fates are at play. Tables are turned. Neither of them know that something bigger is coming their way. But plans come in stages. Baby steps.

Ms. Nelson, the Assistant Principal, interviewed Savana to ask her about her first book.

Q: How long did this book take you to write?

A: A year and a half. Before that I had written another book about aliens. My love for reading helped me make sure I write this all the way through. Whenever I read I get new ideas. I read mostly teen fiction, action, and fantasy – but I’m also a sucker for romance. 

Q: What genre would you consider your novel to be and how did you go about publishing?

A: Ultimate reality and time travel is the genre. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of time travel. I used to watch Dr. Who, and that acted as a sort of inspiration as well. When thinking about publishing this book, I looked up editors and a publisher, and then looked up self publishing and used Create Space to design a cover.

Q: Do you see yourself writing more in the future?

A: I want to write at least two more books in this series, and I am writing more books now. I also know that in college I want to study creative writing. I don’t have a particular dream job in mind – I just know I want to write and that I want to be a writer.