Established just four years ago, Palisade Preparatory School celebrated its first graduating class during commencement exercises at the school Thursday, June 21.
“Palisade Preparatory School was created to level the playing field and give our students the same kind of opportunity afforded to children in college preparatory schools throughout Westchester,” said Superintendent of Schools Bernard P. Pierorazio. “It is inspiring to see our vision become a reality. We applaud the school’s first graduates and we celebrate their postsecondary aspirations."
Palisade Preparatory School opened its doors in 2008 in collaboration with the College Board and grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. Welcoming 160 students in grades six and nine in 2008, the school has grown to its full complement of grades seven through twelve.
Palisade Prep prepares all students for college success and aligns itself with College Board’s tenets and goals: class sizes are limited, each student is expected to take fine and performing arts courses from the time they enter as seventh graders and Advanced Placement courses throughout high school, ninth through eleventh grade students take the PSAT, eleventh grade students sit for the SAT, day and overnight trips are made to colleges and universities, and seniors are expected to be college-bound and mentored through the application and admissions process.
With an estimated 93 percent graduation rate, Palisade Prep will surpass College Board’s 90 percent graduation rate requirement. Every graduate has been accepted to, and plans to attend, a two or four year postsecondary institution. Leading the class is Valedictorian Marvin Phattanachitchon, who will study engineering at Binghamton University and Salutatorian Frank Thomson who has earned a scholarship to Cornell University.
Although academic rigor is the cornerstone of the school’s philosophy, Palisade Prep has no entrance requirements. Instead, admission is open to all students and placement is determined by the School Choice application process. “Every student who enters our school has the ambition to succeed,” said Palisade’s principal, Dr. Michelle Yazurlo. “It is our responsibility to ensure that their potential is optimized and college becomes a reality.”
To help students along this challenging journey are College Board advisories. Lead by a member of the school’s teaching or administrative staff, groups of 15 high school students begin meeting as freshmen for one period every week to support each other throughout their high school journey. The meetings are aligned with a set advisory curriculum designed to foster bonds among classmates, form strong mentor-student relationships, provide resources to support positive decision making, and educate students about the college application and admissions process.
“The Class of 2012 is making history,” said Principal Yazurlo. “We encourage our first graduates to return to Palisade Prep to share their success and inspire our future college-bound students.”