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The Student News Site of Pace High School

Pacer NYC

Emma Lazarus High School: Empowering Students from Around the World

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Emma Lazarus “Enlightening the World” Mural (photo: Arabella Saunders)

Moving to a country where you don’t speak the predominant language is a daunting task.

Moving to a completely different place can become even more challenging with the stress of adjusting to a new school.

Emma Lazarus High School aims to ease this transition for students new to the United States.

“It’s really awesome to see students become who they are and see their growth throughout their time here,” principal Mr. Michael Giovacchini said.

Despite sharing the building, many students at Pace may not know much about the neighboring school’s history. Named after Emma Lazarus, author of “The New Colossus,” the poem etched into the lower level of the Statue of Liberty, Emma Lazarus High School opened in 2009 and welcomes English language learners from around the world.

The school provides a supportive environment with a hands-on curriculum, helping students graduate as multilingual speakers.

There are about 400 people in the school, including staff and 315 students. Students represent a variety of countries, from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic to Russia. More than 18 languages are spoken within the community.

Retired principal Melody Kellogg told Newsweek in 2014 that the goal of the school was “to create an environment where everything we did was about meeting the needs of second-language students who wanted to get a high school diploma and who wanted to graduate and go to college.”

In addition to academics, the school offers extracurriculars like paid internship opportunities, job-readiness training and a variety of clubs. Sports offered include soccer, basketball, volleyball and cross country.

The College Now program provides an opportunity for students to take college level courses to receive college credit. Through the Learning to Work Program, students learn about career options, develop work readiness skills, and achieve goals through educational and internship activities.

“I think it’s really important for families and students to know that what they do matters and that the future depends on you all,” Mr. Giovacchini said.

With the recent influx of immigrants to NYC, Emma Lazarus is welcoming many new students, highlighting the important role the school plays in the community.

“It’s important to provide a rich and positive community within the building,” Mr. Giovacchini said.

Reported with instructional assistance of Arabella Saunders, Report for America corps member and reporter with New York Focus.

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Andrea Moral-Lopez
Andrea Moral-Lopez, Reporter

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