Students, faculty assess impact of Kennedy’s graduation brawl


Over a week after a brawl broke out at John F. Kennedy High School’s last graduation, students and faculty say they have moved on. But the memory of a fight that brought an abrupt end to the festivities remains.

“For it to end like that, it was an embarrassment,” said Marylyn Cruz, a 2014 Kennedy graduate who was injured when two classmates and one of their fathers allegedly attacked her as she left Smith Auditorium on Manhattan College’s campus after the ceremony on June 26.

Ms. Cruz, 18, who suffered a scratch from her collarbone to her chest after the fighting broke out, said she believed security should have been present for the graduation, where 72 Kennedy seniors received their diplomas. This year marked the school’s last year in existence after the city decided to shut it down.

“There was no type of supervision. Imagine if my family weren’t there and I’d gotten choked to death,” Ms. Cruz said. “My family was the only one to help me.”

Security is tight on the Kennedy campus, where students and their belongings must pass through metal detectors to enter the building. Kennedy Principal Lisa Luft said the campus has three scanners on the first floor and one on the fourth floor; 16 security personnel and a commander comprise the eight-floor, eight school campus’ security detail.

Several students including Ms. Cruz alleged the fight was premeditated, but that administration had either not been alerted to the fight or did not take measures to prevent it.

Ms. Lisa Luft denied the claims.

“It wasn’t a planned fight,” she said. “The girls have had words before, but words are something lots of people [have].”

She said JFK administrators had mediated between Marilyn and one of her alleged attackers throughout the school year. Although Ms. Cruz alleges it was two classmates and their mother who began the fight, Ms. Luft, who did not witness the start of the altercation, pointed to the behavior of the guests, not the students, as the cause of the fight.

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