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NEW YORK – October 29, 2019 – ( )

​​South Bronx Classical Charter School II was one of 362 outstanding public and non-public schools recognized as 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The prestigious national program and annual award celebrate school excellence, turnaround stories, and the closing of achievement gaps.

“I’m thrilled that South Bronx Classical Charter School II won the Blue Ribbon in its first year of eligibility,” said Classical Charter Schools Executive Director Lester Long. “Particularly gratifying is that we are listed as an Exemplary High Performing School, which indicates that our scholars are going beyond simply matching their more advantaged peers, but exceeding them.”

Minority students from impoverished families benefit most from New York City’s charter schools, which offer strong academics and the prospect of upward mobility. Over 89% of Classical Charter School’s students live below the poverty line, and 98% are African-American or Hispanic.

There is a palpable urgency and passion behind Classical’s mission to prepare scholars in the South Bronx to excel in college preparatory high schools. Benjamin Arabia, who sits on Classical’s Board of Trustees, noted, “We’re constantly striving to get better in every way. Our aim is to create replicable systems in all our schools that give our scholars the best opportunity to succeed.”

South Bronx Classical Charter School II opened in August 2013 and prepares K-8th-grade students in the South Bronx to excel in college-preparatory high schools. Through a rigorous, classical curriculum and highly structured approach, students become liberated scholars and citizens of impeccable character who achieve proficiency in and advanced mastery of New York State Performance Standards. School II Director Leena Gyftopoulos stated, “I’m so proud for our school to be recognized. This honor highlights the hard work and dedication that our entire team has demonstrated over the past six years.”

Gyftopoulos went on to say, “I attribute this achievement to the tireless work of our teachers, the constant leadership of our administrative team, and the tenacity of our scholars.” Charter schools like Classical provide a local high-quality public-school option to New York City’s students and put students first by leveraging the flexibility and autonomy of their charters to establish schools and create school cultures that are designed to serve the needs of the community.

The U.S. Department of Education will honor the 312 public and 50 private schools at a formal recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C., this November.

About Classical Charter Schools

Classical Charter Schools is an award-winning charter school network founded in 2006 in our nation’s poorest congressional district to address the South Bronx’s stark inequality of access to education. For more information on Classical, visit