Students hold sit-in at LaGuardia High School to protest reduced focus on the arts

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Students at one of New York City's elite high schools staged a sit-in Friday.

The protest was held at LaGuardia High School of Music, Art and Performing Arts, the school that inspired the movie and television show "Fame".

But students say they are frustrated over what they say is a reduced focus on the arts by the administration in favor of a more rigorous academic standard.

They protested what they called drastic cuts in funding for arts programs.

One student referred to what has happened at LaGuardia High School as a broken promise, that they came there from all over the city with the hope of developing their talent as singers, actors and dancers.

The students say they hope to be challenged artistically, but the school insists on good grades in traditional classes as well.

"How are we able to call ourselves the 'Fame' school where we're supposed to be giving people who are so talented a place to cultivate their craft and be who they are and discover who they are as an artist and as a human being if we can't overlook a 79," said student Jordan Pitari.

"It's a school full of people that want to perform and act and make art and do all these really special things," said student Ethan Laird. "And I can speak for myself and a lot of other people that come to the school. I didn't feel the same creative energy and the same passion for arts as I feel like I should have."

Some say there are also issues with diversity that have to be addressed if the school is to reflect the real world.

The Department of Education released the following statement:
"LaGuardia has a long and proud history of both artistic and academic achievement and we'll ensure that students are receiving the support they need to thrive. The executive superintendent and superintendent will work closely with the school community and address any concerns."

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