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Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

Grades: 9-12
Staff Pick

Our Insights

What’s Special

A haven for artists with a nice racial mix

The Downside

The days are packed

Talented kids travel from distant corners of the city to study at the star-studded Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts. One of the most diverse and sought-after schools in the city, LaGuardia educates children of movie stars along with children poor enough to qualify for free lunch.

Students take a regular academic course load as well as two to three hours a day of their chosen art speciality: drama, dance, vocal music, instrumental music, studio art, or technical theater (which includes lighting, costume and set design). There are tons of performances ranging from opera to musical theater and a wide range of sports teams. The days are packed: Classes typically run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. With up to three hours of homework a night and rehearsals after school and even during school vacations, sleep deprivation is a common complaint.

The academics are traditional and the quality of teachers ranges from excellent to should-have-retired-long-ago. Students are assigned to "honors" or regular classes depending on their level of achievement. Some classes are lively, with lots of discussion among the teachers and students, while others are more by-the-book. Parents say the math, English and social studies departments are strong, while science is somewhat weaker. The school offers a wide range of Advanced Placement courses and offers Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese as foreign languages. Some parents complain that writing assignments in English and history tend to be short journal entries or responses to readings, rather than long research papers.

The eight-story building opened in 1984 with the merger of two older schools, the High School of Music and Art and the High School of Performing Arts (made famous by the movie "Fame.") The size of the school can be overwhelming for some kids, particularly in their first semester as they are getting used to their routines. And, however conscientious the teachers may be, it's hard to get a lot of individual attention in a class of 34 students. More than one quarter of kids complained in the Learning Environment survey t hat teachers didnt know their names.

Still, most kids are happy to be here. There is a spirited energy to the building that comes from being around students who are passionate about their work. On one of our visits, we heard an 80-member choir sing a beautiful gospel number in 4-part-harmony, listened to kids record music they wrote themselves in the school's recording studio, and watched while students made costumes on sewing machines in the basement. Art majors developed photos in a photography dark room.

[In 2013 long-time principal Kim Bruno announced that she was leaving LaGuardia for a job as the principal of the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles, California. Lisa Mars, former Assistant Principal of Language, Art and Music at Townsend Harris High School became principal.]

The school has attracted some celebrity children in recent years, including the offspring of Madonna, Robert De Niro and Suzanna Vega. It has a nice mix of white, black, Latino and Asian students as well as kids from all five boroughseven the southernmost tip of Staten Island. Nearly 30 percent of students qualify for free lunch. The student body is more than 70 percent female and has many openly gay and lesbian students.

College admissions: Most students go on either to 4-year liberal arts colleges or to conservatories including Julliard, the Manhattan School of Music, Berkelee School of Music, Rhode Island School of Design, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recent graduates attend Ivy League colleges including Harvard, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania, or other highly competitive schools such as Vassar College, Northwestern, and the University of Chicago. Many students go on to CUNY and SUNY schools. Dancers sometimes choose to go straight into professional performing, postponing college until their prime dancing years are over.

Special education: Fewer than one percent of students have Individual Education Plans (IEPs). The school has very limited special education services.

Admissions: Auditions are held from November through December and are highly competitive. In addition to talent, students must have good attendance, strong academics, with at least an 80 in each of their core academic courses and a Level 2 or higher on standardized ELA and math tests. Most admitted students score a 3 or 4 on state tests.

LaGuardia refused our repeated requests to visit. This report is based on interviews, a review of data, news reports and several prior visits to the school, most recently in 2007.(Clara Hemphill, updated November 2011)

School Stats


How many students graduate in 4 years?
How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
Average daily attendance
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
From the 2020-21 School Quality Guide and 2020-21 NYC School Survey


Number of students
644 Citywide Average


Low-income students
Students with disabilities
Multilingual learners
From the 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Safety & Vibe

How many students were suspended?
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
How many students say that some are bullied at their school because of their gender or sexual orientation?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey and 2019-20 NY State Report Card

Faculty & Staff

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
Years of principal experience at this school
7 Citywide Average
Number of students for each guidance counselor or social worker
157 Citywide Average

Teachers’ Race/Ethnicity

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
Are teachers effective?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey, 2020-21 School Quality Guide, 2019-20 NY State Report Card, 2021 Guidance Counselor Report and this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Advanced Courses

Which students have access to advanced courses at this school? Learn more



Computer Science




Advanced Foreign Language


AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science


AP/IB Math or Science



From unpublished, anonymized data from the 2019-20 school year provided by the New York State Education Department, brought to you by

College Readiness

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
From the 2020-21 School Quality Guide
How many students filled out a FAFSA form by the end of their senior year?
From the 2020-21 FAFSA data released by Federal Student Aid, brought you by
How many graduates of this school received Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funding to attend a NYS college?
How many of those TAP recipients made it through college? Learn more
From unpublished, anonymized student-level data for the class of 2014 provided by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) in coordination with the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), brought to you by
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs & Admissions

From the 2021 High School Directory

Fine Arts

Admissions Method: Audition

Program Description:

The first two years comprise of training in traditional skills and disciplines, which include drawing, painting in water-based media, graphic design, and painting in oils and acrylics. After taking the core art courses, students take advanced courses in the subjects listed and with other elective offerings such as architecture, art history, ceramics, computer graphics, digital media, fashion illustration, mural painting, photography, print making, and sculpture. Applicants must bring a portfolio of 8-15 pieces of original artwork done in a variety of media. The artwork should be from observation, imagination, and memory, and labeled appropriately. Photographs - not originals - of three-dimensional (3D) works may be included. For the audition, applicants will be given three drawing assignments, including drawing the human figure from observation, drawing a still life from memory, and creating a drawing in color, based on imagination. All drawing materials for auditions will be supplied by the school at the audition.


Admissions Method: Audition

Program Description:

Dancers receive four years of challenging conservatory-style training in ballet and modern dance through block programming. Supplementary courses include: anatomy, dance history, choreography, theater dance (tap and jazz), career management, repertory, and professional skills. Applicants participate in both a ballet class and a modern dance class. Applicants must wear ballet shoes and fitted black dance attire. Applicants are evaluated for their potential to succeed in the specific training offered.

Instrumental Music

Admissions Method: Audition

Program Description:

Participants study sight singing, music theory, and music history. This studio's performing groups include four symphony orchestras, two concert bands, two jazz bands, and two musical pit orchestras. Participants also have the opportunity to compose, conduct, and perform original repertoire and utilize a state-of-the-art SoundLab recording studio. Applicants should prepare a solo selection to perform without accompaniment and bring one copy of the music they plan to perform. Applicants should bring their instruments to the audition, except those auditioning on piano, percussion, tuba, double bass, and harp. These instruments will be provided by the school at the audition. Amplifiers will also be provided at the audition for electric guitarists. Applicants will be tested for rhythm and tonal memory and will be asked to complete a sight-reading of a given selection.

Vocal Music

Admissions Method: Audition

Program Description:

Participants study sight singing, music theory, and music history. Students receive training in Italian, German, and French vocal literature. This studio's performing groups include Elementary, Mixed, Girls, Women's, and Senior Choruses; Gospel Choir; and Show Choir. In addition there is an annual full-scale opera production. Music electives include chamber music, guitar, music technology, piano, and songwriting. Applicants should prepare a song to sing without accompaniment for the audition. The musical selection can be classical or popular in style. In the audition, applicants will be asked to sing back melodic patterns and tap back rhythmic patterns. LaGuardia High School has a suggested online song list (www.laguardiahs.org). Applicants are not required to select from the song list.


Admissions Method: Audition

Program Description:

The Drama program focuses on acting preparation through block-programmed courses in acting (Meisner and Stanislavsky method), voice and diction, physical techniques, theater history, musical theater, acting on film, career management, and script analysis. Students have numerous opportunities to perform in professional theater spaces throughout their four years, culminating in our Senior Drama Festival. Applicants should be prepared to perform two contrasting one-minute monologues. Applicants will be asked to do an impromptu reading and participate in an interview. Attire should allow free movement since applicants may be asked to demonstrate how well they move physically.

Technical Theater

Admissions Method: Audition

Program Description:

In block programs, students receive practical training in scenic carpentry, electrics, lighting technology, costume construction, sound properties, stage management, technical drawing (AutoCAD and Autodesk 3DS Max), welding, career management, and design. Students participate in both the production and performance aspects for the various school events. Students may earn transferable college credit through SUNY Potsdam. Applicants are expected to bring a prepared 3D design model/diorama for presentation, along with a photograph of the diorama. Applicants will be asked to participate in a small-group, hands-on practical in one or more aspects of technical theater.


From the 2021 High School Directory

Language Courses

French, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Italian Language and Culture, AP Comparative Government and Politics, AP Calculus AB, AP Music Theory, AP 2-D Art and Design, AP United States History, AP Statistics, AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP World History: Modern, AP French Language and Culture, AP Physics 1, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP Psychology, AP Biology, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Art History, AP Japanese Language and Culture, AP Calculus BC, AP Environmental Science, AP English Language and Composition, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Chemistry, AP Human Geography

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Gymnastics, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on NYCDOE’s MySchools

NYC Department of Education: MySchools

Contact & Location


100 Amsterdam Avenue
Manhattan NY 10023

Trains: 1 Line to 66th St-Lincoln Center; 2 Line, 3 Line to 72nd St; A Line, C Line, B Line, D Line to 59th St-Columbus Circle

Buses: BxM2, M10, M104, M11, M12, M20, M31, M5, M57, M66, M7, M72, X12, X14, X30, X42


Principal: Yeou Jey Vasconcelos

Parent Coordinator: Allison Price


Other Details

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No

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