Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was greeted by a standing ovation and thunderous applause from students and parents as she took the stage at the Pompano Beach Middle School end-of-year award ceremony Monday evening.
Sotomayor spoke for about five minutes to an auditorium of about 1,000 students and families during the event at Pompano High.
Sotomayor briefly spoke of her childhood in the Bronx and of the decisions ahead for the Supreme Court this session. She closed her remarks by congratulating her niece, Michelle Zuniga, and wishing her and her fellow students "the happiest in life in reaching what you want to reach."
Principal Sonja Braziel said that Zuniga "told me that her aunt would be attending and asked if we would like her to say a few words. When she told me who it was, we thought of course. She was just coming to share in her niece's recognition. We are just so excited to have her."
Students did not know beforehand that Sotomayor would be attending the event.
"This was a big surprise for everyone," said Francesca Mundy, 62, whose granddaughter is a graduating eighth-grader. "This was something that I expect to be done in college, not at middle school.