City Honors School

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City Honors School at Fosdick-Masten Park
City Honors frontview.JPG
The front of City Honors School
186 East North Street

, ,

United States
Coordinates42°54′11.16″N 78°51′38.2″W / 42.9031000°N 78.860611°W / 42.9031000; -78.860611Coordinates: 42°54′11.16″N 78°51′38.2″W / 42.9031000°N 78.860611°W / 42.9031000; -78.860611
TypePublic exam school
School districtBuffalo Public Schools
School number195
PrincipalWilliam A. Kresse
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)Cardinal red and silver          
National ranking10th (2010)[1]
NewspaperSilent Noise and Ques (Previous student newspapers include Quærere, Dimensions, and Triumph, along with the unofficial publications The Potters Field, Schism, Seditious Libel and The Liberator.)

City Honors School at Fosdick-Masten Park, known colloquially as City Honors, or CHS, is a college preparatory school in Buffalo, New York, United States. It is part of the Buffalo Public Schools system. The school was founded in 1975 for academically gifted and talented high school students by three faculty members from Bennett High School and Clinton Junior High School. In 1975, it was born as a school-within-a-school program, and in one year it became a school of its own. It is located in the historic Fosdick-Masten Park High School, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.[2]

Today, the school curriculum includes Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses as well as Regents courses required by New York State Education Department. Currently 885 students from grades 5-12 attend the school. In 2014, the Washington Post ranked City Honors as the most challenging high school in the northeast, based on the number of college level exams taken per graduate.[3]


School 8
School 56

City Honors began as a series of enrichment topics at Bennett High School in 1973, known as "Course Y". Selected students took classes in the evening that dealt with enrichment courses and interdisciplinary topics. Increased student demand led to these workshops becoming a "school-within-a-school" at Bennett beginning in 1975, with a partnership being forged with nearby Canisius College.

In 1976, City Honors landed its own building, the former P.S. 17 located at the corner of Main and Delavan, which would allow the school to add grades 5 through 8 and strengthen its affiliation with Canisius. This made City Honors one of the first magnet elementary schools in the district. The school eventually moved to its current location at the Fosdick-Masten Park High School building in 1980. In 1991, City Honors adopted the International Baccalaureate program.[4] From 2007 to 2009, the Masten/Fosdick location underwent a $40 million expansion and renovation project that included a new athletic complex. During that time, grades 5-8 were temporarily housed at School 56, and grades 9-12 at School 8.[5]

Former principals[edit]

Previous assignment and reason for departure are denoted in parentheses.


William Kresse, the current principal of City Honors School, with students (left to right) John Dracup '07, Joshua Wells '07, and Michael-Dane Alexander '08

City Honors School has such an academic intensive program that a test is required in order to enroll. This test can be taken in the November before the next school year. There are multiple testing days throughout the month. For example, to enter as a 5th grade student, the test must be taken in the student's 4th grade year.

City Honors currently offers Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses to its high school students. The IB program was adopted in 1991. IB coursesinclude English A1 HL (Higher Level), Language B SL (French, Spanish or Mandarin) (Standard Level), Economics SL, History of the Americas HL, Biology SL/HL, Physics SL/HL, Business and Management SL, Mathematics SL, Mathematics Studies SL, Film HL, Visual Arts HL, and Theory of Knowledge (ToK). The school was authorized as a Middle Years Program (MYP) school in summer 2008. This brought the IB program to grades 5-10 as well. At a minimum, all juniors and seniors take two years of IB English; this is a requirement to graduate from City Honors School and can bring college credit if a student does well enough in the course.

AP Exams offered at City Honors include English Language and Comp, English Literature (taken by all sophomores), World History (taken by all sophomores), U.S. History (taken by all juniors), Calculus, Statistics, Biology, Physics, Environmental Science, French, Spanish, Chinese, Art History, Geography, Music Theory, and Studio Art. All students must take AP Literature and AP World History in 10th grade and AP U.S. History and Government in 11th grade.

Bell Schedule[edit]

Period Begin End
Period 1 8:21 9:05
Period 2 9:09 9:53
Period 3 9:57 10:41
Period 4 10:45 11:29
Period 5 11:33 12:17
Period 6 12:21 1:05
Period 7 1:09 1:53
Period 8 1:57 2:41

2007 human remains found[edit]

In anticipation of the school reconstruction project, workers dug exploratory shafts in December 2007. This was done because the school building had been built on the site of an old potter's field and there was concern that not all remains had been moved when the school was originally built. Crews found the skeletal remains of two adults and one infant.

At that time, those remains were moved to Forest Lawn Cemetery. In May 2008, digging resumed and many more human remains were found. All remains in the reconstruction areas have been removed. They were examined at Utica College and were sent to Forest Lawn for re-interment.[6]

An old photo of the original school itself, Fosdick High School


An early drawing of what would become Chiron the Centaur, the school's mascot
An image of City Honors' hockey team, showing the centaur logo

City Honors students participate in a wide variety of varsity and club sports, including baseball, men's and women's basketball, bowling, cheerleading, men's and women's crew, men's and women's cross country, men's hockey, men's and women's rugby, men's and women's soccer, women's softball, men's and women's swim team, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's track & field, and women's volleyball.

  • The City Honors swim team compiled 13 undefeated seasons under coaches Drake Francescone and Michael Wech. This streak ended in 1997 in a loss to arch-rival Hutch Tech. The team set a Buffalo Public School record with over 130 victories. City Honors currently has a 14-year undefeated streak spanning from 1998-2012. City Honors has won 27 out of the last 28 Syracuse Cups, with the only loss being in 1997 to Hutchinson Central Technical High School. The current coaches are Kristy Mrugala (men's) and Heather Creighton (women's).[citation needed]
  • The men's basketball team won the New York State Class C Championship in 2003, defeating Cooperstown 66-59. In 2002, the team went to the title game but lost to Blind Brook 57-49. [7]
  • The men's soccer team has won the city championship multiple times, most recently in 2006 and 2007, both penalty shootout victories over rival Grover Cleveland High. In 2010 they won the City Championship with a 1-0 victory over Riverside Technical High School. They also won the Section 6 Class B2 Championship with a 1-0 win over Wilson High School.[citation needed]
  • From 1990 to 1993, the women's volleyball team won four straight New York State Class C Championships. [8] The team won back that title again during the 2009-10 school year. This was done while not losing a game up through to the championship. Their regular season has gone undefeated, not dropping a game in a match for over 20 years. The team is currently coached by Debra Matos.
  • City Honors was the first public school in western New York with its own rowing program. Founded in 1996, the men's and women's crew teams have consistently been amon the top teams in the nation, winning several state championships and even a national championship over the last few years. The team has also won medals in several regional regattas, and has participated in the prestigious Stotesbury Cup. Independently of City Honors Crew, members of the team have had success in the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta and the US Rowing Nationals, and one member even made it to the Junior National team. [9]
  • The City Honors men's hockey team won the Super Sunday High School Club Hockey Championship in 1990 and 2009. They were the runners-up in 2007 and 2010. They were NYS Small School semifinalists in 2005, and qualified for the NYS Small School Championships in 2006 and 2007. They were West Sectional quarterfinalists in 2005, 2006, and 2007.[citation needed]

In September 2005, CHS men's hockey coach Fred Korey, who was also the executive director of Hasek's Heroes, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease. Korey was forced to stop coaching in February 2006 due to his declining health, and died in fall 2009.

  • The men's baseball team has won the Cornell Cup 15 times, most recently in 2003, 2004, and 2005. They were runners-up in 2006 and 2008, and semifinalists in 2007.[citation needed]
  • Former City Honors physical education teacher Drake Francescone — who coached women's softball, men's basketball, women's volleyball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's swimming and men's and women's tennis — is one of only 25 members of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2006. [10] Francescone was diagnosed with cancer and died in May 2011.
  • City Honors was one of the first high schools in western New York to have a rugby team.[11] The men's team won the Division II state title in 2004-05. The women's team placed well in a national tournament in 2005-06. In January 2006, women's rugby team alumna Carretta Reese was named to the USA Rugby National Women's Team.[12]
  • The women's varsity soccer team has won the Buffalo Public Schools city championship every year.[citation needed]
  • In the 2007-2008 season the women's varsity basketball team went undefeated for the first time in league play, winning the Canisius Cup.[citation needed]

Clubs and extra-curricular activities[edit]

City Honors School has over 35 extra-curricular activities and clubs, as seen below.

African Dance, Amnesty International, Amnesty Local, AP Chemistry Club, Chess Club, Debate, Donate Life, GSA (Gay/Straight Alliance), Helicon Literary Magazine, High School and Middle School Ski Club, Jazz Band, Junior Chorus, Key Club, Marching Band, Masterminds, Media Club, NYS Math League, Middle School Chorus, Middle School Orchestra, Middle School Swim Club, Model U.N., Multi-Cultural Club, Orchestra, Silent Noise (School newspaper), Public Speaking, Science Olympiad, Select Chorus - High School, Student Council, Writer's Circle, Yearbook.

The City Honors Masterminds (formerly "It's Academic") Team won the New York State Championship in June 2011.

On May 18, 2008 City Honors Player's musical Children of Eden won several Kenny awards. The show, which was performed in November, won best choral performance, best actor in a leading role (West Richter, Jr. as Father), and best overall production. Winning best overall production included a monetary award for the musical theater department.[citation needed]

Additional facts[edit]

  • The building that houses City Honors is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[2]
  • In December 2008, City Honors School was again nationally recognized for its strong academic rigor as U.S. News & World Report ranked the Buffalo Public School the 35th best in the country. Last year the magazine ranked CHS the 50th best in the nation. The strength and rigor of the school’s International Baccalaureate Program is believed to be why there was an increase of 15 spots on the list.[citation needed]
  • City Honors School has been named as one of the top public high schools and middle schools in Western New York (or near the top) byBusiness First [13] every year since the publication began its rankings in 1997.
  • The school was named one of the top 50 public feeder high schools in the United States by Worth magazine.
  • In 1951 longtime City Honors staff member (she moved with the school when it relocated from School 17 to the new Fosdick Masten location in 1980) Irene McVay was involved in a student-led strike protesting racial segregation in the school system in Prince Edward county, Virginia. The two-week strike led to a lawsuit, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, which became part of the famous Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision.[citation needed]
  • Buffalo native and Canisius High School graduate, Tim Russert of NBC's Meet The Press, was named an honorary City Honors graduate by Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent James A. Williams on May 22, 2007.[citation needed]
  • City Honors School was ranked #4 on Newsweek magazine's list of America's Top Public High Schools[14] for 2006.
  • City Honors School was named #8 on Newsweek's list of America's Top Public High Schools[14] for 2007.
  • City Honors was ranked #11 on Newsweek's list of America's Top Public High Schools in 2008.[citation needed]
  • City Honors was ranked #10 on Newsweek's list of America's Top Public High Schools in 2010.[1]
  • City Honors began as a program at Bennett High School, moved to School 17 and then to its current location in 1980. Fosdick-Masten had been closed for several years when City Honors arrived.[citation needed]
  • Mary V. Kiefer was coordinator of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program from 1999 to 2007. She grew the program from an average of 16 IB Diploma Candidates to 48. She wa instrumental in implementing the policy that all juniors and seniors take IB English A1 HL. However, Mary's family, friends, and the City Honors Community lost her to cancer on October 10, 2007.
  • The City Honors Foundation was started in the mid-1990s. It is a 401(c)(3) non-profit organization and its purpose is to raise money to benefit the City Honors community. It merged with the City Honors Alumni Association and the Fosdick-Masten Park Alumni Association in 2007.
  • The Mary V. Kiefer International Baccalaureate Endowment Fund was created in March 2008. The purpose of the fund is to help the IB program grow and insulate it from possible budget cuts.
  • City Honors moved back to the Fosdick Masten location after being displaced for two years due to reconstruction. The school reopened on September 8, 2010. The reconstruction added a new building to the property to provide the students with a proper-sized gymnasium as well as an indoor swimming pool. The new building also includes multiple new classrooms. The reconstruction project helped improve and update classrooms in the main building as well.
  • In winter 2007, four gang members broke into the school and assaulted a student, leading to media coverage by the Buffalo News.

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable alumni from City Honors and Fosdick-Masten Park High School include:[15]

  • Lucille Clifton - poet; Class of '53
  • Richard Hofstadter, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian; often cited as one of the leading public intellectuals of the 20th century; Class of '33
  • Kit Klein, speed skater; won gold medals in the 1932 and 1936 Winter Olympics; Class of '28
  • Steve Mesler - member of the 2006 U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team; 2010 gold medal winner in the four-man bobsleigh with USA-1; Class of '96
  • Connie Porter - author; Class of '77
  • Buffalo Bob Smith - entertainer; host of the popular 1950s children's show Howdy Doody; Class of '33
  • Rexford Tugwell - economist; member of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Brain Trust"; served as one of the chief architects of the New Deal and directed many New Deal programs; Class of '11


  1. ^ a b "America's Best High Schools: The List - 2010". News Week. 13 June 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  2. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  3. ^ High School Challenge Washington Post
  4. ^ LaChiusa, C. (2000, May). A Brief History of City Honors High School
  5. ^ Simon, P. (2007, October 27). City Honors sets rise in security after attacks. The Buffalo News, p. B1.
  6. ^ Buckley, Eileen (2007-12-06). "Remains from 19th Century Discovered at City Honors School". Retrieved 2007-12-07.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ [4]
  11. ^ [5]
  12. ^ [6]
  13. ^ Business First
  14. ^ a b America's Top Public High Schools, Newsweek Magazine, 2006, 2007
  15. ^ Notable Alumni from City Honors and Fosdick-Masten Park High School

External links[edit]