DeWitt Clinton High School

Coordinates: 40°52′52″N 73°53′11″W / 40.8811°N 73.8865°W / 40.8811; -73.8865
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

DeWitt Clinton High School
100 W Mosholu Pkwy


United States
Coordinates40°52′52″N 73°53′11″W / 40.8811°N 73.8865°W / 40.8811; -73.8865
Established1897; 127 years ago (1897)
School districtNew York City Geographic District #10
NCES School ID360008701940[2]
PrincipalPierre Orbe[1]
Teaching staff84.67 (on an FTE basis)[2]
Enrollment1,026 (2021-2022)[2]
Student to teacher ratio12.12[2]
CampusCity: Large
Color(s)Red and Black
NewspaperThe Clinton News

DeWitt Clinton High School is a public high school located since 1929 in The Bronx, New York. Opened in 1897 in Lower Manhattan as an all-boys school, it maintained that status for 86 years. In 1983, it became co-ed. From its original building on West 13th Street in Manhattan, it moved in 1906 to its second home, located at 59th Street and Tenth Avenue (now the site of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice). In 1929, the school moved to its present home on Mosholu Parkway in The Bronx, across from the renowned Bronx High School of Science.

After more than a century of operations, producing a raft of accomplished alumni, DeWitt Clinton High School in the early 21st century has faced serious problems involving student performance, gang culture, and security.[3][4]


Manhattan history[edit]

Haaren Hall in 2008

Clinton opened in 1897 at 60 West 13th Street at the northern end of Greenwich Village under the name of Boys High School,[5] although this Boys High School was not related to the one in Brooklyn. This school was renamed for former New York governor DeWitt Clinton in 1900.[5]

In 1906, it moved to a newly constructed building on Tenth Avenue between 58th Street and 59th Street in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood—the same year as the opening of the nearby DeWitt Clinton Park where students farmed plots in what was the first community garden in New York.

The school's H-shaped building, designed by C. B. J. Snyder, was said to be the biggest high school building in the United States at the time.[6] After the school moved to the Bronx, this building became Haaren High School. It is now Haaren Hall on the campus of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.[7]

Until a high school education became compulsory in the early 1930s, Clinton, like all other public schools in the city, had a Classics Department, where Greek and Latin were taught. Perhaps its most famous teacher was history teacher Dr. Irwin Guernsey, known to generations of students as "Doc" Guernsey. He came to Clinton in the fall of 1914 and retired in the spring of 1959, due to illness. Using two "Irish" canes, he taught from the chair and won twice in his lifetime the title of Master Teacher in New York City. He was also head of the Honors Association, Arista. The History wing is named "Guernsey Hall" in his memory, and one can still see the library cart named "Doc's Special" on which he sat while students wheeled him to class during the last years of his tenure when he was sick.[8]

The Bronx history[edit]

DeWitt Clinton High School

The school moved to a new building on a 21-acre (85,000 m2) campus at 100 West Mosholu Parkway South and East 205th Street in the Bedford Park section of the Bronx in 1929,[5] where it has remained. Paul Avenue, which runs to the side of the school from Mosholu Parkway to Lehman College, is named after a DeWitt Clinton High School principal, Dr. Paul. It was under this principal that the school moved to its current location in the Bronx.

In the 1930s, its enrollment peaked at 12,000 and it was said to be the largest high school in the world. Enrollment by 1999 was about 4,000.[9][10] In 2021, the New York City Department of Education reports 1,118 students.[11]

It remained the last gender-segregated public school in New York City until 1983.

In 1996, Clinton was selected by Redbook magazine as one of the five most improved schools in America. In 1999, U.S. News & World Report designated Clinton as one of 96 outstanding schools in America.[9]

In 1999, Geraldine Ambrosio became the first woman to hold the principal's post at the school.

The school qualifies for government aid because of the low income status of its students. As of 2006, the school has a large Hispanic population, followed by African-Americans, Asians, non-Hispanic Whites, and Albanians.[12]

Clinton received poor evaluations from the New York City Department of Education in its 2010–11 Progress Report. It received a grade of F (39.4 out of 100) with the worst marks in school environment and closing the achievement gap.[13] The Quality Report for the academic year 2011-12 rated the school as "underdeveloped", its lowest rating. It particularly faulted the school for failing to design "engaging, rigorous and coherent curricula" and for failing to ensure that teaching was "aligned to the curriculum, engaging, and differentiated to enable all students to produce meaningful work products."[14] In 2013, to address these issues, the city's Department of Education tapped Santiago Taveras, one of its former deputy chancellors, as the school's principal to replace the retiring Ambrosio.[15] In November 2016, after Department of Education investigators found evidence of grade tampering, Taveras was removed as principal.[16]

Organization-houses and small learning communities[edit]

Clinton is split into several small learning communities. They include the Macy Honors Gifted Program (internally often called the Macy House), Health Professions, Veterinary Professions, Public Service, Business Enterprise, Future Educators, Academy House, and Varsity House.

The Macy Program, begun in 1985 with funding from the Macy Foundation,[9] attracts intelligent, hard-working children and preparing them for exceptionally selective colleges. The Macy program has been expanded to serve 1,200 students. The current Macy coordinator is Ernesta Consolazio.[17] The Macy Honors Gifted Program in the Sciences and Humanities has its own teachers, and a nine-period day compared to the regular New York City eight-period day. The program offers Specialized and Advanced Technology (SMT) courses, Science, Math, English, Law, Government, Philosophy and Great Books. All students in the program are required to have a minimum average of 80 and not to fail any courses. When Macy students are removed from the program, they are placed in Excel, a special Macy-run program just for its kick-outs and drop-outs, before being fully demoted to the lower programs. From at least 1998 to 2002, some students went directly into the Excel program.[clarification needed]

Advanced Macy students are invited to join the even more selective Einstein Program, which has about 50 students in each grade. This program has even more rigorous academic performance requirements. Einstein students in their junior year are required to take a College Now course for philosophy and government science, in their first and second semester, respectively. These courses allow students to earn college credits. Einstein students are automatically assigned to honors and AP classes as early as freshman year, followed by the mandatory AP United States History and AP English Language for Einstein students who make it to their junior year.

Many Macy students are invited to MASTERS, a month-long summer program that offers many hands-on college courses emphasizing mathematics and science. These include Forensic Science, Robotics, Anatomy, Business, Consumer Chemistry and Electricity.

Student organizations[edit]

The school has over 40 academic and interest clubs.

The Clinton News, the school's newspaper,[18] is written and managed by its students. However, like many other outstanding Clinton possessions, The Clinton News publishes several multi-page full color papers a year by a grant from the Christian A. Johnson Endeavour Foundation.

Another Clinton High School publication is The Magpie. Published yearly, the historic color edition of this magazine came out May 2007. This literary collection received the most attention for its association with the Harlem Renaissance.[19]


DeWitt Clinton High School athletic field

DeWitt Clinton teams are known as the Governors; there are approximately 35 teams. Some teams no longer exist, such as fencing and rifle. Teams for the 2007–2008 school year included:[20]

  • Baseball: boys' varsity, boys' JV
  • Basketball: boys' varsity, boys' JV, girls' varsity, girls' JV
  • Bowling: boys' varsity, girls' varsity
  • Cricket: co-ed
  • Cross country: boys' varsity, girls' varsity
  • Football: boys' varsity, boys' JV
  • Golf: girls' varsity
  • Gymnastics: boys' varsity, girls' varsity
  • Handball: girls' varsity
  • Indoor track: boys' varsity, girls' varsity
  • Outdoor track: boys' varsity, girls' varsity
  • Soccer: boys' varsity, girls' varsity
  • Softball: girls' varsity, girls' JV
  • Step: girls
  • Swimming: boys' varsity, girls' varsity
  • Tennis: boys' varsity, girls' varsity
  • Volleyball: boys' varsity, girls' varsity
  • Wrestling: boys' varsity

The cricket team's formation was encouraged by the large number of South Asians.[21][how?]

School facilities[edit]

DeWitt Clinton High School is located at 100 West Mosholu Parkway South. It dominates the entire block, excluding the ground at the south where the Bronx High School of Science is situated. Facing the main entrance of the building, Paul Avenue runs to the east and Goulden Avenue to the west. The school faces Mosholu Parkway, and has its turf field and track behind it, followed by the softball field, and then the school's baseball and grass football field, Alumni Field. It is after this point that DeWitt Clinton's territory ends, meeting that of Bronx Science.[22]

Clinton has a small branch of Montefiore Medical Clinic within it, capable of supplying essential services to the students of the campus.[23]

The ceiling of a hallway had a 1930s mural by Alfred Floegel called "Constellations", a part of the Federal Art Project. In 2018 the mural was painted over accidentally as part of a roof repair.[24]

In the media[edit]

The institution was featured in A Walk Through The Bronx with David Hartman and historian Barry Lewis. In it, Hartman and Lewis take a peek at the library.[25]

The DeWitt Clinton Chorus performed songs in the 2000 production, Finding Forrester.[26]

A book has been written about the school: Pelisson, Gerard J., and James A. Garvey III (2009). The Castle on the Parkway: The Story of New York City's DeWitt Clinton High School and Its Extraordinary Influence on American Life. Hutch Press. ISBN 978-1-883269-30-2.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

Clintonites made headlines and New York City School history in September 2005, when they walked out. The 1,500 strong walk out was a result of the installation of metal detectors.[27]

Notable alumni[edit]


  • DeWitt Clinton High School students organized one of the largest high school walkouts in New York on September 19, 2005. The protest occurred over installation of airport-style metal detectors and X-ray scanners, which had already been installed in many other schools throughout New York City.[105]


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  • Kelley, Frank Bergen, ed. The DeWitt Clinton Book, New York: Clinton Memorabilia Society, 1906.

External links[edit]