Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School - Wikipedia Jump to content

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School

Coordinates: 40°46′27″N 73°59′08″W / 40.77417°N 73.98556°W / 40.77417; -73.98556
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Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School
The exterior of LaGuardia, one block west of Lincoln Center
100 Amsterdam Ave


United States
Coordinates40°46′27″N 73°59′08″W / 40.77417°N 73.98556°W / 40.77417; -73.98556
TypePublic, Selective school
Established1961; 63 years ago (1961)
School districtNew York City Geographic District #3
NCES School ID360007804458[2]
PrincipalDeepak Marwah[1]
Teaching staff151.30 (on an FTE basis)[2]
Enrollment2,381 (2022-2023)[2]
Student to teacher ratio15.74[2]
CampusCity: Large
Color(s)Red and White

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, often referred to simply as LaGuardia or "LaG", is a public high school specializing in teaching visual arts and performing arts, located near Lincoln Center in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of the Upper West Side in Manhattan, New York City. Located at 100 Amsterdam Avenue between West 64th and 65th Streets, the school is operated by the New York City Department of Education, and resulted from the merger of the High School of Music & Art and the School of Performing Arts. The school has a dual mission of arts and academics, preparing students for a career in the arts or conservatory study as well as a pursuit of higher education. The school has a long history of producing many of the country's most talented artists and is considered to be one of the most prestigious performing-arts high schools in the nation.

The school is the only one of New York City's nine specialized high schools to receive special funding from the New York State Legislature through the Hecht-Calandra Act, as well as the only specialized high school that does not use the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) as admissions criteria.[3]

The school in 2019–2020 had 3,011[4] students and 164 staff members, with a teacher–student ratio of 1:20.


The High School of Music & Art was founded by Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia in 1936. He wanted to establish a public school in which students could hone their talents in music, art and the performing arts. In 1948, a similar institution – the High School of Performing Arts – was created in an effort to harness students' talents in dance. The schools merged on paper in 1961[5] and were to be combined in one building. However, this took many years.

In 1984, the schools moved to a new concrete building, designed by Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano and adjacent to Lincoln Center. The Board of education honored Mayor LaGuardia posthumously by naming the new building after him. Prior to the building's completion in 1985,[6] Music & Art – colloquially known as "The Castle on the Hill" – was located in Manhattan at Convent Avenue and 135th Street in what has since become part of City College of New York's South Campus; the building is home to A. Philip Randolph Campus High School. Performing Arts was located in Midtown Manhattan on West 46th Street. Mayor La Guardia regarded Music & Art as the "most hopeful accomplishment" of his long administration as mayor.[7]

Alumni from LaGuardia and its two legacy schools, High School of Music and Art and School of Performing Arts,[8] are active in supporting the students and the school through scholarships and support for special programs, school events, and reunions held at the school and throughout the world. The school's alumni organization has a full-time executive director and offices at the school.[9] It functions as an independent charitable organization organized under the laws of New York. The school is the top-ranked performing arts high school in NYC.

Academic curriculum[edit]

Students at LaGuardia take a full academic course load while participating in conservatory-style arts concentration. Each student majors in one studio, choosing from either Dance, Drama, Art, Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, or Technical Theater.[10]

Students can take honors classes by choice or programming. LaGuardia also offers several Advanced Placement courses.

Studio curriculum[edit]

The school presents an annual musical. The Musical Theater class, an elective school-wide course, is offered through the collaboration of faculty members from Music, Drama, Dance, and the Tech Theater Studios, culminating in a major musical theater performance. Recent productions have included Gypsy, Les Misérables, West Side Story, Hair, Ragtime, Hairspray, Guys and Dolls, Sweet Charity, Grease, In the Heights, Beauty and the Beast, The Sound of Music, and Cinderella.[11]


For the first two years of education, the art department stresses traditional artistic skills and discipline. Students work on drawing from observation, learning color theory, and the principles of design.[12] Following this, students elect vocationally oriented courses in the fine arts such as Digital Media, Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, Fashion Design, and Photography. In their senior year, art majors can submit portfolios to the department for consideration for a place in the senior galleries, which are a series of shows organized and constructed by the chosen students and a student curator.


The music department has two symphony orchestras, five choirs, four string ensembles, two concert bands, two jazz bands, a chamber group, a gospel choir, a show choir, and an opera company with a pit orchestra. Vocal and instrumental students study in a conservatory curriculum featuring three hours of music per day, including performing ensembles, electives (in areas such as music technology and composition), music theory and history. The department has worked with composers and organizations such as Eric Whitacre, Josh Groban, Arturo O'Farrill, Béla Fleck and NPR's Radiolab.

Instrumental programs[edit]

Every student in the instrumental department must join a performing ensemble as well as a class specific to their instrument's musicological classification (one of three winds ensembles, three string orchestras or a percussion corp). After completing their first year with an ensemble, students may fulfill the remainder of performance credits with electives.

  • The LaGuardia Symphony Orchestra ("Junior Orchestra") was formed with the goal of exposing students to more complex and professional repertoire.
  • The LaGuardia Philharmonic ("Senior Orchestra") accepts students through a secondary audition process. It is one of LaGuardia's best known ensembles.
  • Junior Jazz teaches elementary jazz performance and theory.
  • Senior Jazz is the school's jazz band.
  • Chamber Ensemble
  • Symphonic Winds ("Junior Band") was formed as an alternative to the orchestral program, exposing wind, brass and percussion students to repertoire that features their instruments.
  • Winds Symphony ("Senior Band") also necessitates a secondary audition process, and is slowly moving towards work with professional musicians and recording studios.
  • Pit Orchestra, a program consisting of two distinct ensembles that perform with the annual musical and opera. In 2014, the musical pit orchestra worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of In The Heights to help workshop their own production of the musical.[13]

Vocal programs[edit]

Every student in the vocal department must perform with Elementary Chorus in their first or second year. At the secondary level, students must perform with either Mixed Chorus or Girls' Chorus. Third-year vocal music majors must complete an additional year of chorus, performing either with Mixed Chorus, Women's Chorus, or Senior Chorus.

  • Women's Chorus is an all-female group that is open to third- and fourth-year voice students. It is not audition-based.
  • Senior Chorus is a competitive elective class open to juniors and seniors. The ensemble is one of LaGuardia's most well known and has been routinely selected to perform for the American Choral Directors Association.
  • Gospel Chorus is an elective open to all students.
  • Show Choir is also an elective course that accepts students from any studio.
  • Opera Workshop is open to third- and fourth-year vocal majors through audition, where operatic works are analyzed and studied. The opera of choice is performed halfway through the spring semester. In 2011, the Broadway musical team of Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin announced a musical with LaGuardia's Opera Workshop and Pit Orchestra. The musical, entitled Life of the Party, is a comedy based on Stalinist movie musicals of the Soviet Union. The work ran from May 3 through May 6, 2012.
  • Solo Voice teaches operatic solos through private instruction.

Musicology programs[edit]

Every music student must pass an elementary sight singing course as well as a year of music theory and history in order to graduate.

  • The LaGuardia New Music Ensemble focuses on popular music composition and theory. Students are able to compose their own original songs and perform them during school productions. The ensemble grants admission through auditions, in which a portfolio is required.
  • Music Technology is a class in music production, electronic music history and computer theory.
  • Composition is taught through private instruction, currently with composer Jim Pugliese.


There are several guest teachers in the drama department, who are featured particularly in the junior and senior courses. Jake Gyllenhaal,[14] Alan Rickman and Darren Criss have visited to speak with students, and recent graduates Timothée Chalamet[15] and Ansel Elgort have also returned. Rapper Nicki Minaj is also a drama department graduate. The faculty members of the department include AP Sandy Faison, Harry Shifman, Lee Lobenhoffer and Robert Krausz. Actress Ally Sheedy has temporarily taught at the school as well.[16]


The Dance Department is based strictly on pre-conservatory-based training in the field of dance. Students spend the first two years training solely in classical ballet and the combined modern techniques of Graham and Horton. In their junior year they are given the opportunity to take musical theater and tap classes. Beyond that, the junior class performs for the first time junior year. The second semester of junior year they take a choreography class in which they create pieces of their own to perform. Senior year, the dancers take career management classes to support their success and take part in two performances: the Winter Showcase and the Graduation Dance Concert of the spring.[citation needed]

Alumni of the program include Desmond Richardson and Suzanne Vega.[citation needed]

Technical theater[edit]

The Technical Theater Studio is a professional training program that provides students with the skills and techniques necessary to pursue a career in technical theater. Concepts and aesthetics are taught using contemporary teaching methods that utilize state-of-the-art equipment. Professionally produced events in the concert hall, thrust-stage theater, and black-box theater provide students with practical hands-on work experiences.[citation needed]


LaGuardia offers 21 different sports on the Varsity level. LaGuardia competes with the Public School Athletic League (PSAL).

Fall season sports[edit]

Fall season sports include bowling, swimming, volleyball, cross country (girls'), fencing (co-ed), soccer, and cross country (boys').

Winter season sports[edit]

Winter season sports include basketball, gymnastics, and indoor track (boys' and girls').

Spring season sports[edit]

In the spring, the school offers baseball, outdoor track, tennis, volleyball (boys'), handball, softball and tennis (girls').[17]

Representation in other media[edit]

The 1980 dramatic film Fame was based on student life at the School of Performing Arts before its merger into LaGuardia High School. A television series based on the film, Fame, aired in 1982. It was adapted again as a stage musical, which premiered in 1988. A loose remake of the film was released in 2009.[citation needed]

Drugs and mental health issues[edit]

The school has documented issues with heavy drugs such as opioids and other pharmaceuticals.[18]

Mental health is also a big issue at the school.[19] Students have sometimes struggled with the demanding workload at the school. Other obligations have taken a toll on the mental health of the student body, especially in recent years. The NYCDOE's school snapshot surveys shows that 81% of students at the school say they experienced stress.[20] In the 2019–2020 NYCDOE surveys, 46% of students reported that their teachers support them when they're upset.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Principal's Welcome". Retrieved August 26, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d "Search for Public Schools - FIORELLO H LAGUARDIA HIGH SCHOOL (360007804458)". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved May 27, 2024.
  3. ^ "2016-2017 Specialized High Schools Student Handbook" (PDF). New York City Department of Education. October 16, 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 2, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  4. ^ "Manhattan". Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  5. ^ "Mission & History". Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. Retrieved December 3, 2022.
  6. ^ White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot; Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 358. ISBN 978-0-19538-386-7.
  7. ^ Steigman, Benjamin. Accent on Talent – New York's High School of Music & Art. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1964. LCCN 64--13873
  8. ^ Andreano, Mick. "School of Performing Arts Alumni". Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  9. ^ "Alumni & Friends of LaGuardia". Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  10. ^ "S. 485 Fiorello H. LaGuardia HS of Music & Art and Performing Arts". Archived from the original on November 26, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  11. ^ "LaGuardia Arts". Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  12. ^ "LaGuardia Arts–Art Studio". Archived from the original on February 10, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  13. ^ Sperling, Benjamin. "Lin-Manuel Miranda Workshop at LaGuardia HS". In The Heights Rehearsal.
  14. ^ "Jake Gyllenhaal on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  15. ^ "Timothée Chalamet Fans on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  16. ^ "Ally Sheedy - Acting Coach". My Learning Springboard inc. April 22, 2014. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  17. ^ "LaGuardia Arts–Student Life". Archived from the original on March 24, 2010. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  18. ^ Chapman, Ben. "New York City's opioid crisis seeps into public schools as drug counselors see uptick in student addicts". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  19. ^ "Bell Schedules". Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  20. ^ "New York City Department of Education". Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  21. ^ "School Quality Guide – Online Edition – New York City Department of Education". Retrieved February 5, 2022.

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