A high-performing Rochester charter school is celebrating a move to a new location. The spot may just surprise some folks.
Kydian Quinones Suarez seems like your typical high school junior. At first glance, her school seems like your typical school.
“Learning can be fun,” said Quinones Suarez. “If you make it fun."
It turns out that neither assumption is quite true. Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School is a bilingual school celebrating its 20th year. On Friday, the school marked its first year in a new location.
“It's a crazy idea. We have a school on the fifth floor of an office building,” Principal Wellinthon Munoz told an assembled crowd. “Crazy idea, but we're making it happen."
In April, school officials approached Kodak about vacant space in downtown Rochester. By September, construction crews had renovated parts of two floors in the Kodak Tower, making space for the school at the company’s world headquarters on State Street.
Kydian came to the school three years ago – forced from her native Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. She barely knew any English.
“This school showed me I can be who I want to be,” she told the audience. “I was scared, and it was a really big step for me to come here. But this school took me into their arms, and held me through all the things I had to go through."
EMHCS encourages students to serve their community. Many parents say they're drawn by the atmosphere, not to mention the location.
“I notice that the students walk a little taller, they have a little more professionalism,” said Nelida Torres, whose daughter is a 9th grader. “Walking in, they see the history and understand that Kodak helped build Rochester, and so they just have that extra layer of professionalism and support and dedication."
“Everybody helps each other because we want to see each other succeed so bad,” said Quinones Suarez. “We all know where we come from, and we all know the struggles we go through."
This spring, EMHCS will graduate its first class of seniors. A place that's anything but typical.
“The real world is out there,” she said. “Just one step away."