clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Broadway stars among those taking stage at city graduations

Local politicians, stars of the stage, and a high-profile shoe designer will fete city graduates at commencement ceremonies over the next week.

The annual roster of graduation speakers includes three Broadway stars who themselves graduated from city public schools, according to a list the Department of Education distributed today. (The list is posted below. Fill us in on what’s missing.)

Lin-Manuel Miranda, author of “In The Heights,” will speak at Washington Heights in the neighborhood his Tony Award-winning play features, Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School. Jeannette Bayardelle, a Bronx native who graduated from Fiorella LaGuardia High School for Art and Music & the Performing Arts and has appeared in “Hair” and “The Color Purple,” will speak at M.S. 296 in the South Bronx. And Telly Leung, who vaulted onto the television show “Glee” last year after getting his start in Stuyvesant High School’s theater productions, will be speaking at his alma mater.

The graduation speaker with the most packed schedule is, as always, the city chancellor. Dennis Walcott will be speaking at 16 schools that span the range of options the city offers. Walcott will appear at elementary, middle, and high schools; selective schools and ones that accept students who have flunked out before; schools that prepare graduates for work as well as college; and one charter school in Harlem. At Truman High School, one of the few remaining large schools in the Bronx, Walcott will share the stage with Steven Madden, the founder and former CEO of the shoe company that bears his name. (Kenneth Cole, a competitor of Steven Madden, isn’t on the list.)

The city did not include information about the graduation ceremonies for any of the schools set to be renamed and reconstituted as part of a controversial “turnaround” process. But several of the schools have recruited high-profile speakers for their last graduating class before the changes. Michael Gianaris, a state senator from Queens, will speak at Long Island City High School. James Vacca, a member of the City Council, will appear at Lehman High School in his Bronx district. And Pedro Noguera, an urban sociologist who has studied schools, is the keynote speaker at Flushing High School. According to the department’s announcement, Noguera is also speaking at a small transfer school, West Brooklyn Community High School.

The city also released statistics about high schools’ top graduates:

For the Class of 2012, there are approximately 350 valedictorians. Of these students, 67 percent are female, 48 percent speak a language other than English at home and 65 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

Those statistics are virtually identical to those posted in each of the most recent years. Some of them also mirror national trends: Estimates put the proportion of valedictorians who are women at over 70 percent.

The city’s press release about the graduation ceremonies is below.


Business leaders, educators, authors, actors, and government officials this month are coming to New York City’s public schools to congratulate and offer words of wisdom to the graduates of 2012.

Here is a list that highlights some of the graduation keynote speakers by date of the graduation and school:

June 20

Mekbib Gemeda, the Assistant Dean for Diversity Affairs and Community Health and the Director of the Center for the Health of the African Diaspora at New York University School of Medicine – The Salk School of Science.

June 22

Dr. Pedro Noguera, urban sociologist at New York University – West Brooklyn Community High School.

Salvatore Cassano, FDNY Commissioner – FDNY High School.

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, author of Eighth Grade Superzero – Wagner Middle School in Manhattan.

June 25

Jeannette Bayardelle, Broadway actress – MS 296 in the Bronx.

Telly Leung, Broadway actor and alumnus – Stuyvesant High School.

Johanna Sambucini, Miss New York State – Fort Hamilton High School.

Brooklyn Congressman Ed Towns – Transit Tech Career and Technical Education High School

June 26

Dr. Christopher Emdin, Teachers College of Columbia University – The Bushwick School for Social Justice.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tony award-winner for In the Heights – Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School.

Dr. Umar Abdulla-Johnson, psychologist and radio personality – George Westinghouse High School.

Anita Sabatino, IBM managing director – Port Richmond High School.

June 27

Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium – Manhattan Night + Day School.

Steve Madden, shoe designer – Harry S. Truman High School.

State Sen. Eric Adams – ACORN Community High School.

Keynote addresses by Department of Education officials:

Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott – P176 in the Bronx, June 19; PS 35 on Staten Island, June 20, Young Women’s Leadership School in Manhattan, June 20; PS 216 in Brooklyn and MS 302 in the Bronx, both on June 21; Harlem Children’s Zone/Promise Academy, June 22; Brooklyn Latin, June 22; Preparatory Academy for Writers, June 23; Ralph McKee Career and Technical Education High School, June 25; Brooklyn High School for Leadership and Community Service, June 25; Newcomers High School, June 25; Academy of Innovative Technology, June 25; East River Academy in Queens, June 26; GED Plus, June 26; Truman High School, June 27; and Pathways Preparatory School in Queens, June 28.

Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky – Mark Twain for the Gifted and Talented, June 19; Wildcat Academy and English Language Learners and International Support (ELLIS) Preparatory Academy, both on June 26.

Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm – Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design, June 22; World Academy for Total Community Health High School, June 26.

Deputy Chancellor Dr. Dorita P. Gibson – Mark Twain for the Gifted and Talented, June 19; Bell Academy in Queens, June 22; Passages Academy in the Bronx, June 25; Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School on Staten Island, June 25; and East River Academy in Queens, June 26.

For the Class of 2012, there are approximately 350 valedictorians. Of these students, 67 percent are female, 48 percent speak a language other than English at home and 65 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

The COVID-19 outbreak is changing our daily reality

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to providing the information families and educators need, but this kind of work isn't possible without your help.

Sign up for the newsletter Chalkbeat New York

Sign up for our newsletter.