Career Preparation: Hyde Partners with Here to Here & Futures and Options Program

Donovan
By Donovan Rice, Hyde Class of 2020

This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in Here to Here Futures and the Futures and Options program.  Every Monday, we had a workshop or would go on a field trip to different local businesses to see how they functioned. The rest of the week we worked in an internship at a local business. This is my second year with the program. I was also lucky enough to be joined by four of my classmates this year. We all worked in different locations. I worked at Zaro’s Bakery, and my classmates worked at Randall’s Island, the Bronx Borough President’s Office, and Krasdale Foods. 

I got the opportunity to work at the Zaro’s factory in the Bronx with the owner of the company, Michael Zaro. At first, when I was assigned to the job, I was really nervous because I’d never worked in a bakery before. By the end of the summer, I had a one-on-one connection with everyone in the bakery.  Every morning when I arrived, I would walk through each of the different departments, and answer about 30-40 checklist questions to make sure everything was running smoothly. I also helped to assign lot codes to each Zaro’s product. The job was difficult, but I am so thankful I got the opportunity to do it because it means that Zaro’s sees me as a responsible and capable employee. 

A big takeaway from the summer for me was to be outgoing. I think that being out of my comfort zone pushed me to be more outgoing and learn a lot of new skills. By opening myself up to people, and to feedback, I was able to gain a lot of responsibility. I was even offered a year-round job! 

 

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Hyde’s Summer Leap Program Enriches Academics and Ignites Passions

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As Hyde’s Summer Leap Program concludes its fifth year, elementary school teachers continue to watch their students blossom. “We started the program because we want to make sure students are still learning over the summer and that all the great work teachers are doing is not lost over summer vacation,” said elementary school special education teacher and Hyde Summer Leap Program Director, Davina Davis. “We want students to really foster a love of reading and show them that they shouldn’t stop reading when the school year stops.”

The summer program has evolved to also include a Pre-K for rising Hyde kindergartners. Rising kindergartners, Camilla De Paz, and Leonela Pichardo are very excited to start at Hyde and said they have already learned a lot! “My favorite part [of the program] was writing my name. I can write my name now! We did reading too. We read pattern books,” said Camilla. “I learned how to write the date,” Leonela added. “We danced too.” Each week a different group of rising kindergartners attended a combination summer enrichment and Hyde orientation. “Teachers get to see if the students have any number sense yet or if they know how to write their name and date,” said Ms. Davis. Before the Pre-K program, many teachers students and their families felt they were starting the year without really knowing their Hyde community. “So we started learning about our incoming students and their families over the summer,” said Ms. Davis. “By getting families involved, this helps create and start a great relationship with parents, teachers, and students. We begin to build a community.” 

Special thank you to our Summer Leap partners: Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr. and D’Arrigo New York! 

In their own words: 

Every grade got to further hone their math skills by practicing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and by doing number stories to bolster their mathematical comprehension. Math was rising third grader Abeyuwa “Starr” Uwoghiren’s favorite part of the summer. “I liked doing multiplication because it’s really fun for me, but my teacher made it even more fun for us. Every multiplication fact we did was a point towards getting an ice cream sundae! I can’t wait to learn more math this year,” said Starr pictured right with her friend Jada Paulino.

Every grade got to further hone their math skills by practicing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and by doing number stories to bolster their mathematical comprehension. Math was rising third grader Abeyuwa “Starr” Uwoghiren’s favorite part of the summer. “I liked doing multiplication because it’s really fun for me, but my teacher made it even more fun for us. Every multiplication fact we did was a point towards getting an ice cream sundae! I can’t wait to learn more math this year,” said Starr pictured right with her friend Jada Paulino.

Throughout the four weeks of summer enrichment, each grade was tasked with the One Hundred Book Challenge where every class had to read 100 books by the end of the program. Unsurprisingly, every grade met, and in some cases exceeded, the challenge! The One Hundred Book challenge had an especially large impact on rising third graders Maylin Reyes (left) and Jayson Sanchez (right). “My favorite part of the summer was when I learned about lightening. We read a book about lightening and now I want to know more,” Jayson said. “I want to read harder books now,” Maylin said. “This year I will challenge myself to read more chapter books!”

Throughout the four weeks of summer enrichment, each grade was tasked with the One Hundred Book Challenge where every class had to read 100 books by the end of the program. Unsurprisingly, every grade met, and in some cases, exceeded, the challenge! The One Hundred Book Challenge had an especially large impact on rising third graders Maylin Reyes (left) and Jayson Sanchez (right). “My favorite part of the summer was when I learned about lightening. We read a book about lightening and now I want to know more,” Jayson said. “I want to read harder books now,” Maylin said. “This year I will challenge myself to read more chapter books!”

Rising second grader, Jacob Dominguez especially enjoyed the math courses. “This summer I learned a lot of math” he said. “We did fun number stories and I learned how to count to a thousand!”

Rising second-grader, Jacob Dominguez especially enjoyed the math courses. “This summer I learned a lot of math” he said. “We did fun number stories and I learned how to count to a thousand!”

Rising first grader, Zoe Abreu said she learned a lot through play.“This summer I learned about sharing,” she said. “When I’m coloring and someone wants a color that I am using I let them share it with me and we both can use it.”

Rising first-grader, Zoe Abreu said she learned a lot through play.“This summer I learned about sharing,” she said. “When I’m coloring and someone wants a color that I am using I let them share it with me and we both can use it.”

“My favorite part [of the program] was writing my name. I can write my name now! We did reading too. We read pattern books,” said rising Hyde kindergartner Camilla De Paz.

“My favorite part [of the program] was writing my name. I can write my name now! We did reading too. We read pattern books,” said rising Hyde kindergartner Camilla De Paz.

“I learned how to write the date,” rising kindergartner Leonela Pichardo said. “We danced too.”

“I learned how to write the date,” rising kindergartner Leonela Pichardo said. “We danced too.”

 

Great Minds Think: Hyde Students Study At St. John’s Summer Academy

In addition to learning a lot in the classroom, Chelsea says that the program was also a great opportunity to meet new people and make friends from across the country.

In addition to learning a lot in the classroom, Chelsea said that the program was also a great opportunity to meet people and make friends from across the country.

At the beginning of July, three rising Hyde seniors and one rising junior attended the St. John’s Summer Academy at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. The St. John’s Summer Academy is a college summer program for high school students that is modeled after St. John’s discussion-based, interdisciplinary method of teaching through books. It also serves as a hands-on introduction to college life. Students are tasked with honing their reading, critical thinking, and discussion skills. They also get to take off-campus excursions. 

Chelsea Torres was accepted into the Revolution and Rebellion: Justice and Law program. The program examines the concept of revolution by exploring its role within social, political, and scientific life. Chelsea went to three different classes at St. John’s: a seminar, a language course, and a mathematics course. “The math class was definitely my favorite,” Chelsea said. “It taught me to view math in a more conceptual way.”  In addition to the courses, students could sign up for workshops. Chelsea went kayaking, made pottery, and took swing dance lessons. 

Nana Ampoma Mensah was accepted into the Freedom and Order: Creating Laws, Government, and Society program. In his program, students examined the concept of order out of chaos in the political, literary and scientific spheres. Students had to question whether governing structures restrict individual autonomy. Nana says the program was life-changing for him. “The big takeaway from the program for me was learning how to see things from other people’s perspectives,” he said. “Being in the program taught me that even my friend disagrees with me it doesn’t necessarily mean one of us is right and one of us wrong. Perhaps it means we just interpreted information in different ways. This program really opened my eyes.”

Special thank you to St. John’s College and Mr. Perry Lerner!

Students got to go Kayaking!

Students learned to kayak.

 

Nana took this photo of the moon using a high powered telescope as part of his science class

Nana took this photo of the moon using a high powered telescope as part of his science class.

 

The telescope Nana's science class got to use.

The telescope Nana’s science class used.

 

 

Leadership and Courage: The Hyde 101 New Faculty Retreat

“I was so excited about all the eagerness and wonderful energy I felt from Hyde 101! I'm happy to continue to be a part of the Hyde family. I can tell we are going to have a memorable school year,” said John Swader, elementary school performing arts teacher and Hyde 101 coordinator

“I was so excited about all the eagerness and wonderful energy I felt from Hyde 101! I’m happy to continue to be a part of the Hyde family. I can tell we are going to have a memorable school year,” said John Swader, elementary school performing arts teacher and Hyde 101 coordinator

At the end of August, new faculty embarked on a Hyde right of passage: Hyde 101. Hyde 101 is a Hyde signature practice where faculty communally explore their character on a three-day retreat. The purpose  is for faculty to engage in a reflective, restorative, and informational experience, so they return to Hyde with a deeper understanding of the words and principles and feel comfortable challenging themselves and their students to take steps towards exploring character in the classroom. “Employees at Hyde commit to a rigorous, continuous process of character development, not only for the students but also for themselves and our families,” said Thomas Sturtevant, our executive director.  “Among the outcomes of our Hyde 101 retreat is the intrinsic value participants realize in their own process of self-discovery.” 

Hyde 101 provides the opportunity, time, and a safe space for new teachers to deeply access their own conscience and explore the attitudes they carry. Attitudes and actions often hold us back from what we want to see in ourselves and what we want to be in life. New faculty also reflect and consider their personal growth and receive feedback from a challenging, yet supportive community. “I’m so grateful for the much-needed support system this retreat gave me,” said Naeha Sayed, middle school Data and Assessment Manager.

To get the most out of the retreat, each participant is asked to approach the three-day trip with integrity by being as honest as they can both with themselves and with others.  “I am starting the school year in a more open, honest and inspired way because of the New Teacher Retreat,” said Laura Troy, the high school Math Department Head and coordinator of the retreat.

Faculty at Hyde are not only tasked with  modeling, educating, and both showing and teaching leadership, but also inspiring. Inspiration in job # 1 and the most important thing we implore of  Hyde faculty. “Each year I am pushed, inspired, and grow from stories shared, courage expressed, and everyone’s openness to Hyde,” Ms. Troy said. Ms. Sayed said: “My biggest takeaway from the retreat would be, the sense of a newfound family, where everyone builds a relationship based on trust and sincerity.”

Special thank you to Malcolm Gauld, Laura Gauld, and Tom Bragg!

Class of 2019 Rocks: Thomas Sturtevant’s Graduation Speech

Mr. Sturtevant delivers his address at the 2019 graduation ceremony.

Mr. Sturtevant, our executive director, delivers his address at the 2019 graduation ceremony.

At the beginning of your freshman year, Jalen Rice walked into my office and said, “Hey Mister, this is nice! …So much light!…. What’s with all those rocks?” She was referring to a collection of rocks that decorate my window sill and conference table. I replied to Jalen, “Those are my rocks; I have collected them from special places, and they remind me of important journeys and people in my life. This one here, for example, is from Caumsett State Park on Long Island. I picked it up the day my daughter Lizzie learned to ride a bike. That rock reminds me of how much courage it took for Lizzie to overcome her fear and trust her new feeling of balance on two wheels.” Jalen said, “That’s cool. Maybe I’ll find you a rock for your office.” As the class of 2019 completes its journey at Hyde, some of you after 13 years, you are each taking with you a few special rocks, metaphorically speaking, wherever you end up spending your time in the future, be it college or work.

The best rocks are the ones that, if they could talk, would say something absolutely true that you know deep down about yourself and your purpose in life. You bring these rocks with you because they are like your character, the foundation of your values and the source of your greatest strengths. As you know, the Senior Evaluation Process at Hyde uncovers these character rocks, and the feedback you got in that process can form a few rocks worth carrying with you for the rest of your life.

One of my rocks is the truth about me as a competitor: I may not be the most talented, but I try really hard. I got that rock in Middle School from Colie Matheson on a bus ride home. Out of the blue he said to me: “Hey, Sturtevant. You know you aren’t the best athlete in our class. You just try harder.” At the time, I took his comment as a slight to my athleticism, but after thinking about it, I knew he was right. My success was and still is not from raw talent but from relentlessness. This quality of my character is as true today as it was in Middle School. However, what’s different now is that I know this about myself, and I put myself in situations that suit my relentlessness. That makes me happy and successful.

As you graduate from Hyde, I implore you to take some rocks of your own. What self-knowledge will you take with you that makes you successful and is essential to your purpose? Perhaps you will take a concern rock that you picked up when you heard your friend’s story of being afraid. Perhaps you will bring that integrity Rock you picked up in Ms. Mgbada’s basketball huddle. Maybe the curiosity rocks you collected making films are already in your pockets. I bet you will carry a handful of smooth, black feedback rocks you collected over the years in Discovery Group. Definitely take that big one that is all courage that you lugged home from the senior retreat. Maybe you haven’t yet found a leadership rock, but you will in time as you pursue your dreams and your vision for your life.

It would be easy to see college as a fresh start, a place where nobody knows your past, a place where you might become someone completely new. But that’s not how it works. You show up as you, and you stay you while trying to figure out how you will chart a course to a future you that is entirely up to you. Here’s where the rocks you bring come in. These “rocks” are really your truth, and you already know that “truth is your guide,” especially as you seek to understand your place in the world. That you know so much about your character, your strengths, what gets in your way, what it takes to stand in someone else’s shoes or to be a brother’s keeper… because you know as much about yourself and others, you have an important leadership capacity that your new peers will perceive and appreciate.

Here’s an imaginary example. Picture Lazje Sanchez at her college orientation. She is going to participate like everyone else and hear about all these amazingly talented and diversely oriented people who will be her college classmates at SUNY Delhi. As these new classmates introduce themselves during orientation, Lazje might be impressed: “That one played a concert at Carnegie Hall; this one wrote a children’s book; the person over there started a business; she is from Brazil and has designer clothes that she models professionally; he makes money on YouTube….” After the orientation get-to-know-you icebreakers, her thoughts might go something like this: “I am so ordinary compared to all these very cool and successful people. I wonder if I’ll ever stand out or become as accomplished as they are. What am I doing here? Do I belong?” Meanwhile other students are going to be thinking, “I couldn’t believe how confidently that woman Lazje talked about herself and how honestly she shared her strengths, weaknesses, and goals. How does she know so well what is important to her? I can trust her; I hope she will be my friend.” What happens next? Lazje reminds herself that she is in college to become a lawyer, not to compare herself to a bunch of people she doesn’t know yet. So she sticks to her plan and naturally makes friends who have the intelligence and sensitivity to appreciate her for who she is.

Class of 2019: You are among the most promising graduating HS students in the country because you understand that your success and happiness are rooted in your character and in your capacity to actively come up with, pursue, and realize your dreams.

When you go to college, you are going to encounter many differently advantaged students, some students who seem like they have everything already, some students who seem to already know how everything works at college and with getting jobs. It’s true; a lot of college students already have many social and economic advantages from the day they were born. That’s a fact; however, it’s also a fact that happiness and success are mostly determined by how well you align your dreams and values with the life you lead and your commitments. It’s not about where you start; it’s about where you are aimed— where you take yourself with intention. It’s not about luckiness nor about having many things go your way; happiness derives from making commitments, making good choices, and building relationships that call for your best and engage your special strengths and interests.

The Hyde character programs teach you to look back at your experiences with a wide-angle, summing up who you are deep down, by how you have grown and evolved as a person. You really know YOUR story and where it is leading you. This foundation of character is essential to your future success and happiness; you DO know your strengths and what sometimes gets in your way. You DO know what makes you special and how to help others be their best.

In your next phase of life, you are bound to encounter exciting opportunities and unexpected setbacks, and when you do, you will be prepared to make the most of both the good fortune or the bad luck by engaging your character as you have learned at Hyde.

One of the priorities of college communities is to create “safe spaces” for open dialog and critical examination of contemporary issues and beliefs. The world badly needs fresh leadership and new ideas, and no doubt colleges are essential institutions to addressing the challenge of imagining a sustainable and equitable future for our planet. As you participate in civil discussions about our future, bring your rocks; speak your truth and listen with concern for what others believe or have experienced; stand up for those threatened by bullies; be a skeptic of partisan thinking and self-serving agendas; get curious about what others find important… why do they love, hate, hurt, or heal? Seek significant truths in your inquiries, even if these truths are disruptive.

In a world that does not have guarantees about safety, a safe space is where people live with character; are curious about others; are courageous about saying the truth and facing conflicts and challenges; where people work from a place of concern and try to stand in other people’s shoes, even people who seem to hate you. A safe space is where bystanders stand up for the persecuted. A safe space is where you never give up, never go for blanket statements, never shut down dialogue, especially when it might be difficult or contentious. You make safe spaces by how you occupy them— with curiosity, concern, integrity, courage, and leadership.

Class of 2019, I am so eager for you to go forth as leaders, with some serious rocks in your pockets, ready to bring your best and to call for everyone’s best as we take responsibility for a sustainable and just society

Teaching to Conscience: The Bronx River Project Freshmen Symposium Showcases Interdisciplinary Activism

Students shared their research with their peers and teachers for the Bronx River Project Freshmen Symposium

Students shared their research with their peers and teachers for the Bronx River Project Freshmen Symposium

 At the beginning of the school year teachers across many disciplines discussed doing an interdisciplinary project with the freshmen. Science department chair, Colleen Brosnan took the lead in the project. Ms. Brosnan and other teachers including history teacher, Grace Mason decided to do the project on the Bronx River to bring a community aspect to the showcase. Celia Sosa, our High School Director remarked on how The Bronx River Project showed the impact of community partnerships and how the showcase made students grapple with and apply relevant concepts to their studies. She added: “Our students produced excellent work as a result.” Joe Appel, our High School Director of Academic Programs also added that the symposium set a tremendous precedent for what rigorous interdisciplinary learning can look like at Hyde. He said: “I was most impressed by how the students were able to discuss environmental issues through the lenses of science, history, and English.” 

Colleen Brosnan: 

One of my goals for earth science this year was to try to bring learning outside of the classroom and to show how everything students are learning is interconnected. 

Colleen Brosnan chats with students over Goldfish.

Colleen Brosnan chats with students over Goldfish.

 

Each floor of the school featured projects from different disciplines. On one floor we had History projects that featured the history of the Bronx River and how its resources have been used. For the Science project floor, we showcased how data was collected from the Bronx River to determine its water quality over time.  We went to the river four different times and partnered with Rocking the Boat, a nonprofit that encourages youth development through environmental science, to get the most accurate quality testing results we could. The English floor consisted of projects that explored what would happen if the full effects of climate change are realized. They read dystopian literature on the subject and combined that to their research. Students also coordinated a carnival in the gym! My favorite projects were the ones where students actually made recommendations on how they could improve the quality of the Bronx River. I was particularly impressed by Oslisa Encarnacion and Henderlis Feliz’s project. They didn’t just collect data; rather they collected data, analyzed it, thought carefully about what it meant, and then generated recommendations based on that data for their community. Oslisa and Henderlis even brought in a sample of permeable concrete and explained how it works and how we could use it at Hyde.

I think the Freshmen Symposium project pushes freshmen to be better public speakers and to be more invested in their work. The interdisciplinary aspect was also really special because it shows students the commonality in all that they are learning.

 

 

‘I can stand up to anyone and anything in my way’: Women in the World Conference Empowers Hyde Student Leaders

Women in the World

By Alyssa Soto, Hyde Class of 2019

“Why I say I’m the most beautiful because, in the eyes of my son, I am a beautiful mother. In the eyes of my mother, I am a beautiful daughter. In the eyes of my husband, I am a beautiful wife. Never let people tell you that you’re ugly.”

“The government called me ‘Ugly Duckling’ they don’t know even the end of the story of [the] Ugly Duckling”

These are the words said by Masih Alinejad, an Iranian women’s rights activist who is currently fighting for gender equity in her country.  Ms. Alinejad bravely shared with us her experience of being attacked by a man in London.

Ms. Alinejad is just one of the many women at the 2019 Women in the World Summit that really truly hit me and inspired me to try and take a stand. In the 6 hours I spent at the summit, I learned so much. I left that auditorium feeling as though I could stand up to anyone and everyone that stands in my way.

The conference taught me many things that you don’t learn in school. For example, the exploitation of women and girls around the world; that women are twice as likely as men to develop a form of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease; that more women hold higher levels of degrees than men. There were so many more important things that I never knew before that day. We also go to hear from many female CEOs and founders that hold such power and inspire so many people! 

This experience was single-handedly one of the most empowering and most inspiring experiences of my life. I feel honored and privileged just for being able to say that I was given this opportunity to attend. I left that auditorium feeling as though I can stand up to anyone and anything in my way.

*Special thank you to Wilmington Trust for sponsoring this opportunity!

Thais Gutierrez Discusses the Importance of Family and Hyde’s College Persistence Fund during her first year at Ithaca College

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By Thais Gutierrez-Hyde Class of 2018, Ithaca College Class of 2022

It was an honor to graduate from Hyde Leadership Charter in June of 2018. With the push that I received from my college counselors, my teachers, and my administrators I continue to be the leader I was at Hyde at Ithaca College.

To be honest, the first week of school was really hard.  I was without my family and friends and it was my first time being in a predominately white institution. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. All I did was think, “How in the world, am I supposed to fit in?” So many new faces, and I felt alone. It didn’t take long to realize that I was struggling because I had a negative mindset. I did not give Ithaca a chance. I realized I needed to explore and step out of my comfort zone. I was assigned a roommate during summer orientation. She was tall and slim with brunette hair. “Hi I’m Leah, what is your name?” she was actually really cool. I responded, “Thais.” Her eyes lit up with amazement. “That’s a unique name,” she excitedly responded. She played basketball just like me. She had younger brothers just like me and I was excited that we could hold a conversation. I judged her wrong, just like I judged Ithaca College all wrong.

Since I’ve been here, I have become very open-minded about Ithaca and I have made the best of my time here. Like my mother would say, I am living my best life. I have had opportunities to go to conferences at Cornell University with students also interested in the teaching field. I worked with an inspiring black woman named Bettina L. Love. Her research focuses on how teachers and schools working with parents and communities can build communal, civically engaged schools rooted in intersectional social justice to create equitable classrooms. One of my favorite classes Intro to Practice & Pedagogy. In this course, I get to teach in front of the class using different teaching methods. I’ve experimented with direct instruction, cooperative learning, inquiry-based,  learning and concept attainment. I have an opportunity to be exposed to all these new experiences, which I need in order to fulfill my destiny as a High School principal.

Hyde’s College Persistence Fund has helped me so much. Most importantly, it has helped me to commute from home and back to Ithaca College. My first semester my family and I struggled to afford travel back and forth. The thought of not being to able to see my family, the people I love most, during breaks was unbearable. I knew I couldn’t let this affect my academics, so I immediately sought a solution. I applied for Hyde’s College Persistence Fund and received the means to travel home and visit my family. I know that in order for me to do well in school, I must be able to see my family. When I’m home I always visit Hyde and say hello to my college counselors, who believe in me. This summer I hope to do a summer internship at Hyde to give back to others what was given to me and to give me some professional experience.

Hyde has and continues to help me reach my educational goals and my dreams of being a principal one day!

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How Will You Make History? Hyde Celebrates Black History Month

“We need yellow because the cars were going too fast!” Said kindergartner Immanuel Ojimba. Immnauel presented on Garrett Morgan, the inventor of the yellow light. Immanuel and his teacher did a demo where they asked members of the audience to come up on stage and run when they said green light and stop when they said red light. They did the same test again using the yellow light to show how it’s easier to stop when you have time to slow down.

“We need yellow because the cars were going too fast!” Said kindergartner Immanuel Ojimba. Immnauel presented on Garrett Morgan, the inventor of the yellow light. Immanuel and his teacher did a demo where they asked members of the audience to come up on stage and run when they said green light and stop when they said red light. They did the same test again using the yellow light to show how it’s easier to stop when you have time to slow down.

    3rd grader Starr Uwoghiren was especially excited for school on the morning of the Elementary School Black History Showcase. Not only was she emceeing the show, but she would be officiating the assembly in her traditional Ghanaian gown. “I wanted to wear it because I wanted to show people how it’s beautiful to be African,” she said. The assembly included singing, dancing and a recital of poems. Starr said her teachers didn’t just teach her facts and figures; they emphasized that she is beautiful as she is and that she comes from a profoundly beautiful culture. She said the biggest takeaway for her is the idea of “flexin’ in your complexion.” “Learning about Black History is so important because we need to know what people have been through,” she said, “and now we can go out and change the world and build good things.”

Students pay tribute to Diana Ross by playing the Supremes’ hit song “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

Students pay tribute to Diana Ross by playing the Supremes’ hit song “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

In the middle school this year they focused on black women who have shaped history with the theme “Legends… Past, Present and Future: Celebrating, Women of Color in the Arts”. At the showcase, students paid tribute to women of color who mean the most to them. One of the most moving moments came when 8th grader, Shaideed Grant read a poem he wrote to his mom.  “Even if I want to give up, she makes sure I do great,” he read. “Mom, this one’s for you and all the things you do. You say, ‘never give up don’t do this for me, be successful for you.’” His poem was met with a massive applause from students and teachers. Shaideed’s mom said he did a reading of the poem for her and she was so moved it brought tears to her eyes.

In the high school, 11th grader Iyana Providence was another student who delivered another moving performance. Iyana felt that Black History Month at Hyde gave her the opportunity to illustrate (and take her peers on a journey of) black female empowerment, through dance. She choreographed a piece that exemplified black women’s history while incorporating moments from her own life, through contemporary dance. Iyana felt she owed it to her community, her family and her friends to illustrate black history, the fact that it is currently being made, and that she can have a hand in making that history.

The Hyde Debate Team. From left: William Barkley (9th), Harumi Kameda (10th), Mark Fusco (Debate Coach), Adama Bah (9th), Jenice Alcantara (10th)

Building Sustainable Excellence: Hyde’s Debate Team Competes at Harvard University

The Hyde Debate Team. From left: William Barkley (9th), Harumi Kameda (10th), Mark Fusco (Debate Coach), Adama Bah (9th), Jenice Alcantara (10th)

The Hyde Debate Team. From left: William Barkley (9th), Harumi Kameda (10th), Mark Fusco (Debate Coach), Adama Bah (9th), Jenise Alcantara (10th)

10th grader Jenise Alcantara’s road to debate team success was not an easy one. For a long time, public speaking was her biggest fear. Debate team coach and English department head, Mark Fusco first met Jenise in the summer program he manages for rising high schoolers. He was impressed by her writing ability and spirit. Despite her fear, Mr. Fusco saw incredible potential. He told her if she worked at her public speaking, she could be an incredible debater. The more Mr. Fusco encouraged her to debate, the better Jenise became at debating. Now, two years later, Jenise leads the debate team.

After a stellar performance at a citywide debate in Queens, and thanks to the support of the Saltzman Foundation, our Hyde debaters were able to participate in an international debate competition at Harvard University. The topic to be debated was Resolved: The United States should end its arms sales to Saudi Arabia.”

 Jenice Alcantara, 10th grade, debates at Harvard University.

Jenise Alcantara, 10th grade, debates at Harvard University.

It was no small undertaking, but for Mr. Fusco and the students, it was worthwhile. Mr. Fusco views debate as the ability to use speaking, reading, and writing skills to passionately convey perspectives. For that reason, debating for Mr. Fusco falls perfectly in line with our core values at Hyde. “At Hyde, we teach kids skills for life,” he said, “other than empathy and a sense of connection to humanity and helping others, which are all huge, the skills that debate teaches you are essential for being successful in life.” At Harvard, the team competed with children from all over the country, as well as schools from the Dominican Republic and China. Although they didn’t win the tournament, they walked feeling like they won in many other ways including experiencing tough competition and being able to visit Harvard! They have also begun to strategize and prepare for next year. 

Debating has been life-changing for Jenise. She believes it has made her stronger. It has given her confidence in her convictions and speaking abilities. “Throughout a debate, you have to defend and advocate for yourself and arguments,” she said. Debate has shown Jenise how courageous, smart, and powerful she is. “I took all I’ve learned in debate and translated it into my personal life,” she said.  It is through debate that Jenise came to understand she can overcome any obstacle before her.