On the evening of July 7, 2017, we had our Each One Teach One Student Celebration and Awards Ceremony. Believe me when I say that it was a night we shall never forget. It honestly seemed the night grew in numbers. We estimated about 100 people would join us, but more than 150 of you did. This outstanding number of support and love just goes to show us that we are doing something right in our part of the Universe.
The evening began with live, musical entertainment. Kenneth Brady, one of our very own tutors, played a gorgeous solo on keyboard as everyone settled down into their seats. This was all very bittersweet for those at NYMA, as this was his last year with us. (We will miss you, Ken!) He recently told me something that definitely applies to the tone of the night: “I never gave up at the piano. My grandmother planted that spark in me, and if you keep trying to express a passion for 55 years, you will get good at it, maybe in slow-mo, but certainly in your own unique way.” This is something every student of ours was reminded of this very night, even parents!
After everyone settled down, most wanted to immediately jump back up and dance out of their seats when the next musical act got to the stage. Bolo Bolo Blauweh, an African Djembe Drum group, filled the room with rhythms from the Ivory Coast. It was a joy to watch and listen to.
Of course there was food. A lot of food. Fadhima Thiam made sure all were fed. There was Ponty Bistro’s well-known truffle mac-n-cheese and fried chicken (the kid’s favorite!), a variety of sandwiches, two trays of savory pastries stuffed with spiced fish made by Suzanne Diouf, sweets, and so much more! Here’s only a glimpse of what we had:
Francois Nzi, CEO and Founder of NYMACS, gave his welcome speech which was nothing short of all his gratitude he has for his staff, parents, students, distinguished guests and West Harlem Development Corporation, who has funded us since 2014. Gale Brewer, our Manhattan Borough President, was also in attendance. She gave a speech of encouragement as well as spoke about our active role in NYC, because while a lot of people say that they are going to do something about the state of education, few of them get to do it, and that’s where we come in, she says.
What truly spoke to the hearts and minds of children and parents was a speech given by Jaden Michael, whose been a student of ours for quite some time now. His core message was similar to Ken’s, in that you can honestly be whoever you want to be, and to absolutely never, ever give up. Always, always give your best. We are very proud of this young man who has been a shining example of one who is dedicated and passionate about life. Currently he stars in the movie Wonderstruck, and when he’s not working hard to pursue his passion, he’s working very hard here at NYMA so that he continues to get good grades. He kindly donated a copy of the book that this movie is based on and we thank him for that. It’s already being read by several students!
We then did what this event was truly about. We first welcomed and awarded NYMA’s alumni, who have graduated from schools such as KIPP NYC College Prep, Brooklyn Tech, and who are now in SUNY Plattsburgh, Pace University, to name a few. Each said a few words to the audience about their journey, and what a journey it has been! We then moved on to our current students who show up every day. They were the stars of the night. <3 Just look at them!
We’d like to thank every single one of you for showing your support on such an important evening, and for taking part any way you could. Sekayna rocked the stage with her MC-ing, and Mia put huge smiles on to the childrens’ faces as she handed them their award. Next year’s event is already anticipating to be spectacular.