Creating Community at Baruch College Campus HS
It was still hot outside by 6 PM
on June 24, but the heat didn’t stop all 97 students of the Baruch College Campus
High School Class of 2003 from wearing their caps and gowns.
In high spirits, students, faculty, and family members packed
the Baruch College auditorium to witness the sixth graduating
class in the high school’s history.
They ignored the formality commonly seen at such a ceremony.
Parents, teachers and students cheered and hollered loudly
for one another. Students presented personal films and songs
at the graduation which expressed their emotions for thier
years at the school.
“We are very much a ‘we’ place,” said
Principal Jill Myers. Community is the quintessence of what
make the school outstanding. The school is structured around
a tightly knit system where personal relationships operate
as a “safety net over the Grand Canyon.” Myers
believes that “intellectual care” is of equal importance
to “social and emotional care.”
The foundation for this individualistic approach is the advisor
system, where teachers play the role of a mentor and keep in
close contact with students and parents. Not only does the
advisor discuss the daily life of the student, but actively
engages in his academic pursuits. For example, students and
teachers write bi-weekly letters to each other reflecting on
History teacher Kiara Vigil, who has taught and served as
an advisor at the school for five years, feels that the system
keeps students on track and challenges them on various levels.
While she recognizes the greater amount of work required by
both the teacher and the student, Vigil says the intrinsic
rewards more than compensate.
“You form a little family,” she said. “When
I saw my students at graduation, the feeling was overwhelmingly
Lauren Santiago, a member of the
2003 graduating class who will be attending Plattsburgh State
University next fall, said, “The
teachers’ high expectations push you to perform better.
Without the advisor system, I wouldn’t have gotten through
Baruch College Campus High School
is one of several schools linked to colleges in New York
City as part of Chancellor Matthew Goldstein’s vision of College Now. Some of the benefits
for the school include use of the college library, college
faculty providing professional development to the high school
teachers and high school students inclusion in the college
community. The school sets rigorous academic standards and
emphasis is placed on the student’s growth as an individual
and member of society.
“Students learn to self-evaluate,” said Myers. “They
may not always have the right answer but the important thing
is to be able to arrive at an answer.”
Vigil along with first-year history
teacher Catherine Turso shared Myers’ expectations for what students gain at
the school. Turso said she encourages her students to “find
their voice” and hopes to instill “empowerment” and “confidence” in
As a testament to the commitment
of Myers and her faculty, all 97 students of the Class of
2003 are enrolled in college next fall. Asked how she accomplished
this feat, Myers said, “the
vision was in place.” As for her future, Myers too is
graduating alongside her students. She will become a local
instructional supervisor of 10 schools in region 9, one of
which is the Baruch College Campus High School.#