Seals, Rays, and Sharks, Oh My!: Hyde’s Summer Program Students Visit the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk Connecticut

Last Wednesday, the students of Hyde’s Summer Enrichment Program ventured out of the Bronx to visit Norwalk, Connecticut’s renowned Maritime Aquarium. Our elementary school students learned about marine life during this field trip by getting up close and personal with a diverse array of ocean residents – from seals, starfish, and otters to stingrays, jellyfish, and sharks! Our students had been studying ocean life this summer by learning about different species of marine animals such as sharks. Before visiting the aquarium, “They drew pictures and wrote sentences about what they might see at the aquarium and what they were most excited to see,” notes elementary teacher, Yashica Goulbourne.

Ms. G continues to explain, “Field trips such as this one enrich and expand the knowledge students already have while strengthening their observation skills. It provided a great social experience for students who have been deprived of that interaction because of remote learning. Learning for them has been visual for over a year and the experience at the aquarium allowed them to touch, feel, and listen.” One of our elementary schoolers shared, “My favorite part was when I got to touch the stingrays because it was the first time I got to touch a sea animal!” The Maritime Aquarium offered our students many different ways to interact with animals, encouraging them to respect the environment and its inhabitants. Visiting the aquarium to learn more about marine life and ecosystems reaffirms Hyde’s mission to continuously offer students opportunities to practice curiosity and experience new things. 

 

Class of 2021 Celebrates Their Post-Graduation Plans at College Signing Day

On June 9th, our high schoolers gathered to celebrate the Class of 2021 through an exciting virtual College Signing Day event! The celebration was led by Hyde’s widely adored College Program Team and filled with college-themed trivia, performances from our staff, and a slideshow showcasing the Class of 2021’s college decisions. We are so immensely proud of this graduating class, especially keeping in mind the perseverance it took for them to undergo the college application process in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. See below for a short speech delivered by esteemed college counselor and Hyde’s new High School Director, Mr. Hittenmark… 

Today is the culmination of four years of growth, humility, and dedication to excellence in and out of the classroom. The Class of 2021 started their college process by taking the most rigorous course load any freshman class had yet undertaken at Hyde. They visited colleges, submitted over 700 applications, met with representatives, undertook internships, and joined local organizations. They set themselves apart far before this pandemic arrived. 

Deciding on a college, a home for the next four years is not an easy task. It takes thoughtful consideration and commitment to explore your unique potential. The college experience has the capacity to push you outside your comfort zone, introduce you to people and experiences, a network of alumni that you can rely on, and inspire future Hyde Lions to follow in your footsteps!

Juniors, Sophomore, and Freshman, this will be you someday. Making a commitment in the pursuit of your unique potential. I hope you take some time to reflect, think about the schools and areas of study our scholars have chosen. 

Today would not be possible without our amazing staff challenging and guiding our scholars K-12, our families in choosing a college prep school and trusting us with their children, our amazing college prep counselors, and of course the hard work and dedication of the Class of 2021. 

It has been an honor to watch many of you grow from little Hyde Kindergarteners to your deep self-reflection during the senior process. I am exceptionally proud of the Class of 2021 and I hope everyone takes the opportunity to show them, love, as they announce their college commitments.

Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Signs $1.5 Million Check for 730 Bryant Avenue Renovations

Last year, over 788 community members came together to sign a petition to renovate our auditorium. This petition supported a lengthy campaign led by our families, including former Hyde parent Patricia Rodas and her friend Estela Medel. On June 11th, thanks to our community’s efforts, Councilmember Salamanca presented a check for 1.5 million dollars to renovate the 730 Bryant Avenue auditorium and playground! Mr. Salamanca’s check presentation was welcomed with vibrant dance performances from Hyde’s 3rd Grade Dance Company along with speeches from students, staff, and community members.

Patricia Rodas wrote a letter to be read during Councilmember Salamanca’s visit, in which she explains, “The renovation of the auditorium and playground will benefit over 1,400 students, over 250 teachers/staff, and 1,000 families in Hunts Point. The auditorium is the epicenter of the school and is used for classes, major performances, graduations, and student award assemblies.” 3rd grader Mikayla Johnson also presented a speech during which she articulated, “You really are helping our community. I can’t wait to see the changes… You’re helping us because we’ll have more places to play, perform and practice.” Ms. Rodas and Mikayla’s sentiments highlight the impact of this contribution on spaces of 730 Bryant Avenue which are dedicated to play and performance – two creative areas that are vital towards Hyde’s mission of fostering character development. 

Students left the event feeling inspired by Councilmember Salamanca’s leadership and excited for the upcoming renovations. We are immensely grateful for Councilmember Salamanca’s continuous partnership and generosity.

Read Patricia Rodas’ entire letter here: https://www.hydebronxny.org/letter-from-patricia-rodas/

Parent Celebration Night 2021: An Evening Honoring Hyde’s Parents as Superstars and Superheroes

On the evening of June 8th, over 150 Hyde parents and faculty came together (virtually) to enjoy 2021’s Parent Celebration Night! At Hyde, we recognize the ways in which our parents go above and beyond to make their children feel supported and encouraged throughout their academic lives. With this in mind, the evening was double-themed as it credited Hyde parents as being superstars and superheroes.

The celebration included group dance parties, a series of videos thanking parents for their perseverance, awards ceremonies, and entertaining games. While Hyde encourages authenticity, character development, and resourcefulness in our students, this evening was used as an opportunity to honor the ways in which our community’s parents have also exemplified these qualities throughout the pandemic. With this in mind, parents were nominated for awards such as Best at Being Your Authentic Self, Best at Exploring Your Potential, Best at Asking for Help, and more. 

Parent Celebration Night was a successful evening filled with fun, laughs, and uplifting sentiments. At the event’s conclusion, one parent expressed their gratitude when saying, “Thank you for this amazing tribute. I feel seen as a parent.” Hyde’s hardworking and supportive parents deserve to feel seen and appreciated each and every day. We look forward to hopefully hosting Parent Celebration Night in person next year and can’t wait to see what our families will continue to accomplish.

6th Graders Discover Unique Career Paths at Last Week’s Virtual Career Fair

 

On June 9th, our sixth graders attended a virtual career fair where they met professionals in varying fields, from actors to software engineers to nonprofit developers! This event gave our students an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about industries that they are curious about. Career fairs such as these reinforce Hyde’s mission by allowing our students to hear more about life skills, character development, and career exploration from a variety of professionals.  

Many of the guest panelists were friends of Hyde staff and came equipped with interactive presentations before the virtual floor was opened up for questions. Some of the panelists included Rachel Navaro, a NY-based actress, Claude Castille, a software engineer for Google, Caroline Freden, a researcher who works with children on the autism spectrum, Marcus Jackson, a game developer at Apple, and our very own Jennifer Hernandez, one of Hyde’s school counselors. Throughout the fair, students asked great questions such as “What is a Ph.D.?”, “Who inspired you to start your job?”, and “What is a project you are most proud of?” After the panel, one of our faculty members, Ms. Ada Garcia exclaimed, “What an amazing event! I loved the representation, the variety of careers, and the features of our own talented staff! The kids asked so many amazing questions. Amazing job, Ms. Ubini and 6th grade team!”

The fair’s panelists presented such a diverse and unique array of skills to our sixth graders. By hosting events such as these at Hyde, our students are given the opportunity to consider endless possibilities for their professional aspirations.

Marcus Jackson, a software engineer for Apple, guides students through a coding game he developed. 

Rachel Navarro tells students about her experience as a background actor in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s newest film, In the Heights (2021)

Researcher Caroline Freden speaks about her work in the field of child psychology

11th Grader Wins First Place at Bronx Rotary Club’s 2021 Essay Competition

 

Last week, 11th grader Jeleny Mendoza won first place in the Bronx Rotary Club’s 2021 Essay Writing Competition which was in honor of the organization’s founder, Bea Castiglia Catullo. Students were asked to write about how they’ve seen leadership and perseverance in their communities and within themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read Jeleny’s award-winning essay below…

 

The Benefit of Love: How My Neighborhood Changed Me by Jeleny Mendoza

This essay is in honor of Bea Castiglia Catullo who served her community. She helped those in need during tough times through her humanitarian work. She helped give millions a better life through being a nurse, building better places, and loving her community.

“I remember seeing the world shut off, my window was lonesome and pale. Not a single person in sight, and little by little my life felt like it was falling apart”. These were my grandmother’s first words after she recovered from the virus. She was able to finally speak and it was the only thing she could say with tears in her eyes. We only talked through the phone because we were restricted by the pandemic to even visit each other for my health, her well-being, and everyone else’s safety. I remember thinking to myself at that moment about the people who don’t have family members, who will never be able to touch or say hi to them ever again.

I finally realized the significance of kindness during these tough times as I saw outside in my neighborhood the joy and generosity many of my neighbors gave to each other. It’s not a surprise that the pandemic has left millions without jobs thus leaving them without income, resources, and most importantly tranquility from the uncertain. Although, seeing Mrs. Laura handing out boxes to all the people that were in need at the corner of Hunts Point and Bryant, Ms. Ivett knocking on our doors and asking us if we needed anything, handing out information about food banks and financial empowerment to the residents in our community. And how can I forget about my grandfather who handed every single person he knew an envelope with $50 for their necessities. My whole community chipped in. The owner at the corner store allowed for people to take a certain amount of items, go home, and pay whenever they could. For the last year or so, I was surrounded by incredibly kind individuals, families who gave each other a hand and thus made me reflect on the change I wanted to see in the world.

But change comes from within and I finally took a minute, realizing I hadn’t done enough, I set out to expand my services outside my home without actually leaving it – arriving at a beautiful internship that connected me to the Urban Health Clinic and programs such as the United Nations and National Honor Society that allowed me to see the change and make a difference through my actions. We made presentations on how to cope with the pandemic at the end of June 2020 and donated to an orphanage in The Dominican Republic. The most satisfying thing at the end of the day was seeing their smiles and the thought of them having new clothes – more instead of less which unfortunately is what many have experienced during these tough times.

Yes, it’s true I didn’t have much to give but sometimes there is nothing better than support or a helping hand, and like a wise man once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”- Martin Luther King Jr.

Hyde Community Comes Together Through Food and Flowers

On Friday, May 7th, Hyde hosted a community food giveaway outside of our high school building which provided food boxes to 925 Hyde and Hunts Point community members. Hyde also distributed direct cash assistance for groceries to 300 family members thanks to a special partnership with the Robin Hood Foundation. Through the teamwork of our dedicated Hyde teachers, staff, and board members, the food giveaway was open all day. When reflecting on the event, one parent said, “Hyde to me is an excellent resource and great help to myself and my daughter. They have come through more times than I can think of and I’m so very appreciative for that.”

The event was also adorned with red roses which were gifted to Hyde’s hard-working mothers and mother figures in celebration of Mother’s Day. Not only did this event equip our families with critical food resources and healthy foods, but it also provided our community the opportunity to visit with one another, enjoy the warmer weather, and celebrate Mother’s Day. The Hyde team is thrilled with the success of the afternoon, and we are so glad to have been able to see and assist our wonderful families in Hunts Point.

Hyde Juniors Win First Place at City-Wide American Debate Tournament

On Saturday, April 24th, Fatoumata Cisse and Adama Bah, two 11th graders at Hyde, won first place at the American Debate League 2021 Spring Classic Tournament! Fatoumata and Adama teamed up to debate if the benefits of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) outweigh the harms. Adama describes the IMF as being “a financial support team for any countries that need money.” They argued primarily for the cons of the IMF, citing that their main points aimed to expose the apparent corruption and ulterior agendas of the institution. They competed against ten other schools, including Riverdale Country School and Garden City High School, and took their arguments all the way to gold.
Upon being asked what the most exciting moment of the tournament was, Fatoumata notes, “When you’re in the debate and you realize the other team messed up and you know we can really jump on them in this argument, we can really beat them right now, that’s the most exciting part.” Adama echoes Fatoumata by adding, “It’s so exciting when, on the spot, you find a different way to attack the other team’s argument.” When reflecting on their biggest supporters, Fatoumata shouts out her father who helped them find strong pieces of evidence for their arguments. Additionally, Adama attributes much of her passion for debate to Mr. Fusco, Hyde’s debate team leader, and Ms. Hunsinger, who developed Hyde’s debate team. Fatoumata and Adama also attribute their accomplishments to their teamwork and friendship, “I think the main reason for our success at the tournament was because the both of us really get along together,” Fatoumata points out. “I got my best friend, Fatou to compete with!” exclaims Adama.
When considering potential career paths, Fatoumata describes, “Most of the career paths I want to go towards have to do with public speaking, and debate is a really good tool for that.” Adama reflects on her goals by adding, “I was always interested in law. I think I’d want to do criminal law and be a prosecutor… If I become a prosecutor I could have the power to change the system, and then hopefully over time I’ll become a senator or a mayor.” We can’t wait to see what these two first place debaters will do to change the world with their skills in public speaking, research, and argumentation.

Second Graders Practice their Financial Literacy with Ally Bank

On Friday, April 16th, our second grade students attended an exciting introductory lesson on finances which was hosted by Ms. Dana Sanker, the Chief Financial Officer at Ally Financial. Through this presentation, our students learned about the importance of beginning a savings account, collecting interest, and being able to differentiate between wants and needs. Ms. Sanker taught students about these concepts through a virtual picture book as well as an engaging game of jeopardy.

Ms. Sanker shared her screen to read aloud from a picture book titled Adventures with Money: Emma and the Cosmophone. This book shared the story of a young girl named Emma who learns about hard work, starting a bank account, earning interest, and spending her money wisely in order to eventually afford a “Cosmophone”. After reading the story, students were divided into two different groups for a game of jeopardy which included questions about important topics from the book. Our students were eager to answer questions about the story in order to put their knowledge to the test. Some of the questions were “What helped Emma decide to start working and save money?”, “What is the difference between a need and a want?”, and “What is interest?”

Mrs. Shirley-Clarke, a Hyde elementary teacher who facilitated this event, reflected on the valuable lessons our students learned when stating, “Events like these are super important to our scholars’ growth. It is not just building wise minds, but character…. Scholars got a chance to understand that being financially aware can start at a young age.” Ms. Sanker’s storybook and interactive game encouraged our students to listen to, learn about, and engage with important financial topics. Events like these help to teach our students necessary life skills from a young age which they can hone as they grow. Special thanks to Ms. Dana Sanker from Ally Financial for showing us that students of all ages can begin to practice financial literacy in unique and playful ways!