Yesterday, in the midst of the wind and rain, more than 500 children tumbled out of buses and vans on upper Fifth Avenue, filling the auditorium of the New York Academy of Medicine with their enthusiastic cheers and goodwill. This diverse group of students, principals, teachers, and administrators from thirteen schools, parents, and other guests came together to shine a spotlight on the incredible work private and parochial schools are doing for their students each and every day.
The School Choice Week celebration kicked off with an energetic South African gumboot dance by Manhattan Christian Academy, and continued with choir performances by Saints Joachim and Anne School and Al-Ihsan Academy, and spirited African dancing and drumming by The Learning Tree Cultural Preparatory School.
After a welcome from CSF President Darla Romfo, we also heard from a trio of inspiring speakers. CSF Los Angeles Alumna Nicole Serrato, who now works part-time for CSF while she’s studying for a film degree, advised the students to recognize the investment their parents and others are making in them through their education and pay it back by working hard to fulfill their potential. Master of Ceremonies Derrell Bradford, executive vice-president of 50CAN and executive director of NYCAN, inspired the children with his own story of how a scholarship put him on a path that led him to the Ivy League and a career in education reform.
New York State Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo of the Bronx appeared by video, sharing his support for choice in education, and telling students: “It starts with us being proud of what we stand for, celebrating each other and our success, demonstrating that the students in many of our schools are amazing and you’re doing amazing work. You’re fulfilling a promise of what the intellectual capital of our youth has to offer. I believe in you and I support you.”
The grand finale came when students from eight schools – including Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Catholic, and Independent schools – performed an excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Click on the video below to watch – the end of the speech starting at one minute thirty seconds is particularly rousing. Don’t miss it!
The children and schools embody the hope that choice and access to a quality education provides. These very different schools are chosen by parents and serve children of diverse backgrounds all across New York City, but together they have a common purpose of giving children an opportunity to reach their full potential.
Thank you to everyone who made the joyful celebration possible, including our friends at: National School Choice Week; 50CAN; Al-Ihsan Academy; Futures in Education; Immaculate Conception School; Inner-City Scholarship Fund; The Learning Tree Cultural Preparatory School; Manhattan Christian Academy; Mount Carmel-Holy Rosary School; NYCAN; Our Lady of Lourdes School; Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Academy; Partnership for Inner-City Education; Sacred Heart School; Saints Joachim and Anne School; St. Athanasius School; St. Joan of Arc Catholic Academy; St. Leo Catholic Academy, and Solomon Schechter School of Queens.
CSF was featured in several media pieces this week: an op-ed by the Manhattan Institute’s Ray Domanico in the NY Daily News featuring CSF, a post by CSF Alumna Nicole Serrato in Education Post, and a post by CSF President Darla Romfo in New York School Talk.