Yailin Alcantara, who will be a freshman at Borough of Manhattan Community College of the CUNY this fall, stands with her graduation diploma and her Advanced Regents Diploma after the ceremony. Photo: Alexa Beyer

Hyde Charter School class makes school history

Yailin Alcantara, who will be a freshman at Borough of Manhattan Community College of the CUNY this fall, stands with her graduation diploma and her Advanced Regents Diploma after the ceremony. Photo: Alexa Beyer

100 percent of school’s graduates head to college

The inaugural kindergarten class of the Hyde Leadership Charter School is going to college—every last one of them.

Isaiah Best will begin his freshman year at Dartmouth College in September, and he’s bringing a piece of Hunts Point with him.

“I named two styles of dance, Reggaes and Pumps, and they didn’t know what it was,” said the National Honor Society recipient and passionate member of his high school dance team, recalling his conversation with the Ivy League university’s dance ensemble during one visit to the New Hampshire campus. “So I’m looking forward to bringing that to Dartmouth.”

Best entered Hyde as a member of its founding kindergarten class in 2006. He and his classmates leave as the first in the school’s 13-year history with a 100 percent college acceptance rate.

So far, 70 percent of Hyde’s graduates have graduated or are currently enrolled in college, which is five times the national average for students from the same demographic background.

This year’s graduating class also boasts three Ivy League acceptances, the highest SAT scores in the school’s history, and several prestigious scholarships, some worth tens of thousands of dollars. Nearly half of the graduates earned Advanced Regents Diplomas,a distinction reserved for students with top-tier GPAs and Advanced Placement test scores.

For Best, the rigorous academic experience he had at Hyde stood out in his memory, as did the school’s many immersive clubs, many of which he participated on.

But “the fact that the classes are designed to be academically challenging while the program that comes with it is designed to build your character, you end up just becoming a wonderful human being,” was what stood out the most, he said.

Hyde’s Associate Director of Communications and Development Jesse Arnholtz calls the approach a “family-based character education program,” a dynamic made possible by the high school’s small size. There are 273 students able to take advantage of an intimate 9-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

At the joyful graduation in June at Sympony Space on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, each graduate presented a two-minute speech reflecting on their personal growth at Hyde and their dreams for the future, to raucous applause from classmates, families and fellow graduates.

“I remember being that lost freshman…I didn’t know what I wanted or where I wanted to go,” said Ithaca College-bound Massaran Cisse. “Now I’m an outspoken woman. I go for what I want…I’m also the one who earned the Dell and MLK scholarships for a combined $64,000!” she exclaimed over the roars of the crowd.

CUNY New York City College of Technology-bound Alexis Adderley said that after losing her way earlier in high school, she was inspired to win her spot back on the basketball team and make the honor roll for the first time after watching her mother graduate college with a 3.9 GPA.

Meanwhile, Hunter College-bound Emely De La Iglesia opened up about her experience coming to Hyde after she and her family immigrated from Honduras.

“Being part of two different worlds created this conflict of not knowing who I was,” she said, pausing as she began to tear up. “You got this!” her classmates shouted to her. De La Iglesia said she channeled her feelings of confusion into excelling at school, but as time went on, she learned to integrate both her school life and home life into her identity. “This year taught me to be grateful for the obstacles that are thrown my way, because they’re gonna be stepping stones to my future success.”

Hyde’s faculty and administration shared the tight-knit vibe with their students. In his invocational speech, the school’s executive director Tom Sturtevant shouted out several students by name, and recalled the growth he had witnessed in them over their years at the school.

“Picture Lazje at her college orientation,” he said of SUNY Delhi-bound Lazje Sanchez. “The other students are gonna be thinking, ‘I couldn’t believe how confidently that woman Lazje talked about herself. How does she know so well what’s important to her?”

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