Bronx singer and BAL alum Prince Royce paid a visit to the Bronx Academy of Letter High School Friday to spread a message of peace. His visit was part of the John Lennon Educational Bus Tour, a monthlong tour of peace, love and creativity. Together, they created and recorded an orginal song and music video!
The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation; United Healthcare and CBS EcoMedia made Bronx Academy of Letters its fifth stop during the 2017 Team8 Tour on Monday, September 18 and Tuesday, September 19. The visit emphasized the need for healthier food options, school facility improvements and creating opportunities for local youth to stay active in athletics and afterschool programs.
Sixteen-year-old Matt Diaz, a junior at Bronx Academy of Letters in Bronx, New York and a member of Integrate, NYC, an organization working to end de-facto racial segregation in New York City schools, was one of the many students who participated in the walkout. Not only did Diaz walk out of school alongside his peers, he also helped organize and publicize the walkout for all New York City schools through his work at Integrate, NYC. Broadly spoke to Diaz immediately after the walkout to learn about his experience, and what he hopes comes next.
In classrooms and hallways, kids struggled to understand the surprising upset of Clinton, who overwhelmingly carried New York in Tuesday's presidential election. Teachers said they heard feelings of betrayal and fear, especially among children of immigrants. At the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters, seventh-grade social studies teacher Eric Kossoff said his students were frightened by Trump's pledge to deport illegal immigrants and to build a wall on the Mexican border.
"They are immigrants, their parents are immigrants, some of their parents are illegal immigrants," he said. "They are basically living the things that Donald Trump is putting out there."
his can't be a one-time conversation, a solitary assembly or moment of silence because these are not discrete occurrences in the lives of our students. It must be embedded in our conversations with students, honored in our curriculum, visible in our hallways, present in our communications to the entire school community, and reflected on/with our students' communities and families.
There is no prescription. No right way. But, I am a firm believer that together, we can began to identify ways that allow schools to transform pedagogy so that it both honors our current realities and uses truth as a catalyst for student growth (and the growth of the entire school community).
In a conversation with WNYC, three student activists said they felt the effects of segregation, whether by attending schools that were entirely black and Latino and low income, or in schools with whiter and wealthier populations.
"We have someone every year of the way through high school who’s going to be able to make sure a kid is tuned in and focused on the academic prowess that’s going to allow them to access college and careers," said Cardet-Hernandez. "And that just hasn’t happened before. That to me is what happens at a private school."
Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, principal of the Bronx Academy of Letters in New York, sits in on a yoga and mediation session with students inside the “pass room.” The room is part of the school’s restorative-justice approach to dealing with students who misbehave.
The “School Diversity Advisory Group” includes more than 30 members from a range of backgrounds handpicked by City Hall. The task given to the group, which began meeting last month, is to evaluate the city’s current proposals and recommend additional ways to promote school integration.
Camiscoli wants her students to leave the program feeling like Kevin — stronger, more open-minded and hopeful about what’s possible — rather than downtrodden or bitter.
“These are stories of strength because integration needs to be a conversation about strengths,” she told her class. “All of you have beautiful strengths, and we are looking to see how we can most powerfully look at how we are not bringing them together and how we might in the future.”
Many students from the Bronx Academy of Letters have been aware of these disparities and started an organization called IntegrateNYC4me to address segregation of city schools and the inequities of resources that come along with that.
Cardet-Hernandez believes his school's approach has helped empower his students.
“We’re modeling a process [for our students],” Cardet-Hernandez said, “that we don’t accept the status quo.”
With extra hands on deck, Melendez has time to notice when a student’s grades start to slip. He can counsel students who are still learning English on the possibility of taking state tests in their native language, or schedule a phone call with a family that needs help navigating social services systems — rather than relying on an outside agency that may be too overwhelmed to follow up.
... at the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy, Principal Brandon Cardet-Hernandez projects that the Bronx Academy will have an 85-percent graduation rate, surpassing the city’s current average of 65 percent. He expects that Jeremiah, Jasherah, and Paula will graduate and go onto college.
“These digital sites are effective tools to incentivize our special-needs students to become active participants in their own education,” the principal said. “It’s also another way that we cultivate high-interest educational opportunities and redefine what learning looks and feels like.”
At Bronx Letters, a public school serving about 600 sixth- to 12th-graders in New York City’s poorest school district, students had left class with school permission to attend a demonstration on the athletic field. The event, organized by Robledo, Aileen Villa, 18, and Isis Brache, 17 — lasted 17 minutes, to commemorate the 17 students killed in Parkland.
In the South Bronx's District 7, students have created a project called IntegrateNYC4Me to push for student-led solutions to segregation. District 7 is almost exclusively black and Latino and therefore not very diverse, but students have collaborated with peers in largely white, wealthy District 2 and with other students in Central Brooklyn's District 22. The Department of Education will launch a pilot program aiming at creating diversity at seven elementary schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn.